Show Notes

Tersh talks with Bryan Clayton of GreenPal about the reasons we should convert our Service Business to A Tech Business Immediately!

"One thing I've learned is like it's better to hire the best four hours a week than to hire somebody who sucks for forty hours a week." -Bryan

Bryan has been in the lawn care industry for over 20 years. He has grown a business from 1 guy in a truck to a business with over 150 employees. This episode shares how he made that happen and some of the ways to avoid the pain points that plagued his business. 

In today's episode, Tersh and Bryan talk about 10 reasons service businesses should be converting to a Tech Business immediately!   

Our Deep Dive~

  1. Paper!
  2. Handwritten anything...
  3. Spreadsheets
  4. Manual reminders to clients
  5. ...you'll have to listen to the rest of the episode for these juicy details! 

 

RESOURCES

"If you know how people will emotionally react, you have an advantage more valuable than all of humanity's innovations."

Thank you for listening to another episode of the Service Business Mastery Podcast!

Learn more about Tersh at https://ServiceBusinessMastery.com 

 

Transcription

Why You Should Convert Your Service Business Into A Tech Business w Bryan Clayton of GreenPal

Tersh Blissett: [00:00:10] a Hello, everyone, out there in the podcast world. Hope you have a wonderful day. You were listening to or watching live the Service Business Mastery Podcast. I'm your host, Tersh Blissett. Today we have an awesome guest and there are going to be some questions that might sound like I know the answer to only because Brian Brian Clayton of https://yourgreenpal.com he is. He's been a guest. He was guest last year, almost a complete year to date. It is wild, but our recording didn't work out. It was just corrupted. And so I'm super honored for Brinda to take some time and spend some time to come back on the show and talk to us. Today, we're going to talk a lot about building your service company to operate more like a tech company. And that might sound weird, but I want you to just take a second and really listen to what Brian has to say about this because he personally has gone through this. He's experienced this transition. And then also a lot of times we're out in the field, we're in the trenches. There's a lot of listeners here to show that to do lawn care. And you're out there in the daily grind. And a lot of times you're like, how do I get out a truck or how do I really make this work more seamlessly? And that's what we're gonna talk about today.

 

Tersh Blissett: [00:01:31] We're going to talk about that tech, the technical side of running your business and how it can make your life just way more just enjoyable and less stressful. But with that being said, welcome to the show, man. 

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:01:47] Hey Tersh, Great to be here. Thanks for having me on.

 

Tersh Blissett: [00:01:50] Yeah, absolutely. It's my pleasure. So tell me a little bit about you, your background and a little bit about green power and what it does exactly.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:01:59] Yeah. So twenty years of entrepreneurship. I actually was drug into entrepreneurship, kicking and screaming while my father, made me mow the neighbor's yard on a hot summer day. He said, hey, get off your ass. You got a job to do. You look at the neighbor's yard. So he sounds like you to force me into my first business and something about just cutting that yard to make it twenty bucks stuck with me. And I just loved the idea of owning my own business even as a teenager. And so I just stuck with that little lawn business. I, I passed out door hangers and I had a handful of customers that first year, and it is little by little grew this little lawn mowing business through high school and college into a real company. And over a 15 year period of time, I, I built this lawn mowing business into one of the largest landscaping companies in the state of Tennessee where I live. Got it over one hundred and fifty employees, over ten million dollars a year in revenue. And in 2013, the company was acquired by one of the largest landscaping businesses in the United States. So growing that business in the late 90s, all through the 2000s, early 2010s, I you know, I saw a lot of change in evolution and how business gets done and just just a trial and error figured out how to grow a business of that scale.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:03:09] And in 2013, when I sold it, I retired. I took some time off. I got bored, realized, wow, I need get back in the game. I need to start my next thing. And so the idea for Green Power, which is my company I'm working on now, which is the number for lawn mowing, was really kind of clear and straightforward to me. I was kind of solving my own problem. I knew an app needed to exist to make ordering a lawn mowing service much easier. And so I recruited two co-founders and we've been working on this business for eight years, eight year overnight success. Over three hundred thousand people use the app to get their grass cut now. And we're doing twenty million dollars a year in revenue. And and and it's hard to believe it's been eight years. But I think what's gotten us here is just not giving up and is figuring out how to make this thing work. And so that's twenty years of entrepreneurship in one industry. I've kind of seen it from every angle and I've seen it from both sides of the table.

 

Tersh Blissett: [00:03:59] Oh, yeah. That's awesome, it's amazing that you've gone through that entire progression in and still in the same industry, which is amazing, too, because you found this need within our within that industry in particular and created a solution for it a lot. I mean, a massive solution. You've done that along the way, but now you've certainly created that solution for the consumer like myself, because here lately, over the past couple of years, whenever I didn't want to have well before my kids were old enough to cut the grass themselves and I didn't want to do it myself, I, I would have to ask in like a Facebook group or something like that, like who's the best lawn care company. Like who would you recommend who actually comes in our neighborhood or who comes out to our house because we live way out in the country type stuff? So you've created a solution to a problem that I really didn't realize I had, but now it's a super major convenience for us.

 

Tersh Blissett: [00:05:01] So what would you say? Really in with greenpal, is it like what's been your biggest pain point? What's been your biggest struggle that you've come to overcome with that with with green though,?

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:05:19] So going from running a traditional service based business in the trenches, blue collar style of business, hundreds of employees, trucks, lawn mowers, hand-to-hand combat. You know, it was a it was a traditional service based business. I mean, hell, at the end of the in the run in that company, I had four mechanics full time. Wow. All they did was fix trucks and lawn mowers. And so it was it was very much like a traditional style of business. And when I sold that, I thought, oh, well, that was really hard. And so now I just want to do something easy. I just want to like have a software business, because that's going to be easier. And and and I don't want all those people and all those all that equipment and all those customers. I just want I just want to run a software business. And so luckily, I didn't know what I didn't know. And I was I was very naive, my co-founders as well. We were naive as to how difficult it was going to be to build the Uber for lawn mowing. And so so fortunately, we didn't know how hard it was going to be, because if we did, we would have It's scared. We never would have done it. But the challenges in the early days were really, really tough. There's a big difference between building a traditional business where there's HVAC roofing, garage door repair, lawn mowing, home cleaning, you name it. Like these are straightforward businesses. If you work really hard and you just outhustle your competition and and you take care of your clientele and you figure out ways to do things better, cheaper, faster, you'll be successful.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:06:42] This was inventing a brand new product that did not yet exist from scratch and trying to figure it out as you went. And so it was kind of like jumping off the cliff. And so in like assembling an airplane on the way down. Right. You you don't really know what you have to do and what you have to build. So the only thing that kind of guides you through that is just listening to customers, listening to users. And it was really, really hard in there in the first few years, like just learning how to code and learning how to build software. My co-founders and I had to do that. And then learning the dynamics of a multisided marketplace, satisfying service providers needs and wants and homeowners and like striking a balance between the two. These are all very challenging things we kind of have figured out through trial and error. It took us four years to really figure out how to get it going, how to roll it out in the inner cities. But luckily we just stuck with it. You know, one of the thing about me is that I'm always going to be working on my best idea. And so that's just the default. Like giving up quitting is not an option. So so for me, like it was like, OK, well, this I'm not very creative. I don't have very many good ideas. I'm going to be working on this and that's it. And so that's kind of what kept us going. Is that, OK, the only way to move this forward and we're just going to keep going until we figure it out.

 

Tersh Blissett: [00:07:53] Cool, man. I like that. So what would you say would make would have made your life better with your lawn care business had you implemented it from from GreenPower? What what things do you wish you would have done earlier in the lawn care business or learned.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:08:11] Yeah. So as I'm spending eight years building this app marketplace from scratch, one of the really Eye-Opening things is like, oh God, if I'd just known these things when I was running my landscaping business, my life would have been so much easier. I'd had a much more profitable business. My customers would have been happier, you know, like all of these things. And so it's like it opened my eyes to I think in the future, every service based business, really every business is going to be at some shape or form a technology business. And so and so if you're not thinking about this now as a business owner now, whether you own a HVAC company or roof repair company or if you're a concrete contractor, if you're not thinking about, like, how you're going to leverage technology to operate smoother, more, more efficiently, how to serve your customers better, how to, how to how to treat your your your employees better, how to train your employees every facet of your business. There is software out there that you can buy off the shelf to do it better. And so like as soon as I'm building, like, this app from scratch, that basically is the operating system for lawn mowing services. I'm like, damn, I wish I had this. Yeah, I wish I had the capability to build these workflows and build these tools when I was running my last company.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:09:30] And so I think nowadays, like, you don't have to build these things from scratch. A lot of these these products exist and and you can actually wire them together if you want to to learn enough about it. And so, like, I guess the thing I challenge service based on entrepreneurs, whether it's just you in a pickup or you in 10 or 20 employees, it's like really focus on ways that you can leverage technology to do what you're doing better and don't get overwhelmed by all the things that are out there. Just focus on one thing and one place you can really focus on is. Removing the friction that it takes to do business with you. Like what I mean by that is like like removing all the things that your customer has to do to do business with you and figuring out ways to leverage technology to do that. Like, for example, when I go to the dentist today in two thousand twenty one, why is it that they still hand me a clipboard with a BIC pen and seven pieces of paper that I fill out? Like, why is that? That should not happen. There's no excuse for that. And maybe some dentists have adopted the ability to, like, you know, collect this data and store it and like have it to you as a customer.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:10:41] Don't have to do that. But like, why why does that happen? And and, you know, like why when when when my roof is leaking, you know, I've got to leave 12 voicemails for somebody just to even, like, hope. Hopefully somebody call me back. You know, if you're in the business of roof repair, you need to make it super simple for people to find you and hire you, ideally without even a phone call. And so looking for ways to leverage technology in your business to do it better, more efficient and and to and to cut costs and deliver a more delightful experience to your to your customer. There's all sorts of opportunities for that for business owners today. And like we're like in like minute one of day one. Yeah. Fast forward five or ten years from now. If you don't start thinking like this, either you'll have a business that sucks and you hate because it's not profitable and you're that you have to like work in it one hundred hours a week or you won't be in business at all.

 

Tersh Blissett: [00:11:34] Yeah. And also to to piggyback on that last statement that you made, if you are any type of person to where you watch your competitors, I'm not saying that that's good. I'm not saying you should you shouldn't do that type of thing. But if you happen to be that person where you're like, oh, this company over here is growing and I'm kind of stagnant and it seems like they're growing at a really rapid pace. Well, there's a good chance that that company has a lot of technology built into automation. And it if you were to look at the that company in depth, it's probably overwhelming. So people come and they see what we have going on and the automation that we've built. And they're like, whoa. How did you do all of that and it goes back to the old adage, how do you eat an elephant one bite at a time? It's just starting starting that Microsoft Office workflow and creating that automation, like if even as simple as creating rules inside your email. So if the email comes from this person and it has this in the subject line, Sinda straight to this folder like it's it's a email that I need to have, but it's not one that I need in my inbox that I need to see all the time. So why why create the work for me. So now that's a split second that I don't have to spend doing that. And it's all those split seconds added up together. Now I'm growing a business while I'm also able to do other things, like social media posts that are automated as well, you know.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:13:00] Exactly. And like to your point, just focus on one thing and just like improve one or two things every week and try to figure out how to use technology to improve those things over a year or two or three year period time. You'll have drastically improved your business and not just for you as the owner, but for your customer. So your customer doesn't have to doesn't have to, like, mail you a check, God forbid, or even call you with a credit card number like they should like It's table stakes these days. They should be a log into a portal and pay you and or your customers not getting a picture of the completed job email to them magically, like like people expect this kind of stuff. And and so this isn't some things, like some symptoms are paper. And where you see paper, it's a it's a symptom of something that you can automate and do better. If you're handwriting how to work order and you're like your handwriting out directions for your tech to go or whatever, it's like that's a symptom of a place that you can improve because paper almost should never exist in your organization. It's like so so why am I writing this down? Or if you're if you're in a spreadsheet, I mean, yeah, spreadsheets aren't never going. One hundred percent go away. But if you're in a spreadsheet that's in that's a symptom of a place that you might could automate, like why am I typing this into a spreadsheet, why do I have to type this in at all. Like they called somebody took down their information that should be put into a master CRM, CRM somewhere and that should just live forever. I should never have to write this person's name down on a piece of paper ever, and sort of like looking for these ways to to streamline things and do them more efficiently in your organization. And even better yet, reducing the friction and paying your customer has to go through to do business with you.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:14:44] Even better are ways you can leverage technology to to run a better business.

 

Tersh Blissett: [00:14:49] So for the people who are listening, who may be in lawn care, what would you say is a is a simple way to help? Like, what's what's a an app or maybe a program that they could use to help some of this automation?

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:15:06] Yeah. So for us, we have built the operating system for very small service providers in the long run. So let's say you're you're you want to do 20 or 30 yards a week, you jump on GreenPower, everything's handled for you from scheduling to really routing to getting new customers, getting paid, all of that. Now, let's say you you you are running like a three person show or five or five person company or ten person company. GreenPower is not a real good fit for you. You've got your systems. You've already got you've already got your processes.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:15:37] And so so what do you do then? You have to really be willing to eat your business from the inside out and customize it, you know.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:15:47] Yeah, sure. You've already got your spreadsheets and you print those off and you give them to the crew foreman and they write stuff on the paper and you take it back. You probably don't even look at it. Right. And it and it may be the secretary or somebody like mails out an invoice, but who knows if that's correct and who knows if we even made money on on any of this stuff. And you just kind of hope it all works out. And and so you've been doing it that way for five or ten years. And the idea of doing it any other way is just like is is scary to you. You have to that's the first thing you have to be willing to get over that and you have to be willing to to implement an operating system to do all this better. And so the good news is today, like twenty, twenty one, there are good platforms that you can operate your business on top of the fact there's almost too many. And that and I think that's a barrier as well. Some some ones. I recommend you take a look at jobber's good service autopilots. Good service Titan is good. And these are these are not necessarily lawncare specific. Yeah.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:16:47] And I recommend you look at those and just and do what I call fire bullets than cannonballs, like try to run one crew on one or one tack on one of these platforms and see if you can make it work. Then if you can then layer on some more and more and more operations on top of it.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:17:06] And if you don't like it, you know, really try to reach out to the to the people building this product and get support. And if and if if it's a dead end, cut it. Try another one. Yeah, the.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:17:16] It is that you have to you you have to be willing to to jump off the deep end and and put these things in your business and and be willing to disrupt the status quo if you're going to make that leap. Because if you don't, you're still going to be printing off the same damn route sheets that you typed up on Microsoft Office or some shit. And it is never going to get better. Got to be willing to, like, do that and willing to experiment and these things in order to level up and get to eight figures.

 

Tersh Blissett: [00:17:47] Yeah, I love that's massive what whenever there at what point do you feel like they are going to start using iPads in the field instead of getting papers in the field? Like how many how many trucks would you say that that would start out that today?

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:18:05] Like if you're not doing that today. Yeah. You may be behind and it's probably industry by industry, yeah, like I think today your tech needs to have the iPad.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:18:18] The work order should be on the iPad. All of the stuff around what the client needs and wants should be on the iPad. They should take the iPad and take pictures of before and after because everybody loves it before and after.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:18:28] It doesn't matter what you're doing, if it's house cleaning, garage door repair, pressure washing, HVAC like send me a picture of the HVAC unit, what the what the filter all clogged. And then like a before and after that makes your four hundred and twenty eight dollar invoice hurt less. Absolutely. And I guarantee if you're willing to do that and even if it's just manually at first like, like emailing these things and figuring out the workflow and then look for us for a free operating system that can help you do that. I know jobb and service titan do that. So a lot of these things might seem expensive, but like how many times have you had to eat an invoice because a mismanaged customer expectations?

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:19:13] I mean, this stuff pays for itself.

 

Tersh Blissett: [00:19:15] Absolutely. And it will actually the automation that's built into the software, they will. That's It's. The cost of the cost of that is program is far less than the additional employees you have to bring on to do the same amount of work.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:19:31] Right, exactly. Like you could almost eliminate like in my last business, we had we had a we had one lady that answered the phone. We had another lady that was an office manager. We had another lady that did like routing and and organization across crews. And then and then we had we had H.R. person, like all of that could be one person part time today because because it tools exist to make these things all operate much, much easier. And if you can combine that with like a couple of virtual people, like somebody to answer the phone virtually, what do you do, data entry, virtually, you can really, really, really supercharge your business.

 

Tersh Blissett: [00:20:13] That's funny you say that because I literally was getting ready to ask that as the next question, because I we use like our our CFOs remote, our bookkeeper's remote, our H.R. is remote, our CSR. So the people who answer our phones, they're all remote, outbound or remote. So we we function predominantly remotely. And, uh, so you're you're good with having like an app or or a paycheck's doing doing that kind of stuff. You're OK with that kind of thing?

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:20:49] I think the more you can leverage somebody remotely in fractionally, the better. So back in my day when I was running one hundred fifty person organization, one thing we always dealt with was like we needed to see a CFO that, you know, makes one hundred two hundred thousand a year, couldn't afford it. And these days you can hire that same CFO fractionally to look at your books once a month for two or three hours a month.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:21:16] And so one thing I've learned is like it's better to hire the best four hours a week than to hire somebody who sucks for forty hours a week.

 

Tersh Blissett: [00:21:24] Absolutely, man, I love that. What time is that? I quote that one is it's dream though, because like what you said, like having that controller or CFO, like you don't have to have that person for forty hours a week.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:21:39] Back in the day you used to get used to have the phrase used to have to like bite it off and be able to pay this person six figures to sit there in a in a leather backed chair in the office and It's nowadays on Upworthy, dotcom or other places, you can you can hire a fractional CFO to look over your books and close them out once a week for two hours a week.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:21:57] Yeah, they might make one hundred fifty bucks an hour, but they're worth it. And the same has to be said for for a CTO, somebody to look over all this technology we're talking about to guide you on that or a a chief of of legal or H.R. person.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:22:12] Like if you can hire a rock star, H.R. person for two hours a month to look over what you're doing, they will save you one hundred thousand dollar lawsuit at some point back in the day. Ten years ago, fifteen years ago, you know, if you didn't have the the the the room and your in your budget to hire this person full time, guess what? You just kind of had to figure it out on your own and take the lyrics. These days. There's no excuse. You don't have to do that.

 

Tersh Blissett: [00:22:38] Yeah. It's like fingers crossed until I get big enough to I don't get sued. Right.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:22:43] Yeah. The gap between when you get big enough to have this person on, on, on, on staff versus like you can afford them, used to be like really big and you were just like out there in the gantlet naked. And, you know, I've been sued probably fifty times in twenty years. And it was because I didn't have the processes and protections in place because I didn't know. Nowadays there's no excuse. You can hire. You can hire. Top level CFO to make sure you're you're compliant in terms of taxes, you can hire a top level H.R. person for a couple of hours a week or month and make sure you're doing what you're supposed to be doing. And it guess what technologies enables you to do that sort of circles back around to leveraging technology at twenty, twenty one to operate your garage door repair business like a tech company.

 

Tersh Blissett: [00:23:31] Mm hmm. Absolutely. And I'll give everybody a little tidbit of behind the scenes with our business. So Service Emperor our entire office staff is remote. So we have a Juleanna. She's in the office right next door. We have a monitor that's up and it has zun going all day long. So all of our remote office staff there on that Zoome screen, just like you're there, it's like we're sitting right next to each other and it's even better because nobody comes and knocks on the door and interrupts anything. They can see that, Hey, Tersh is on the middle of a podcast. Don't unmuted to ask him a question, you know, and the same with, like a phone call and is really awesome. And if something happens, they can just hit the chat right there and just shows up on on there and we can answer the question. So it is really an amazing workflow and accountability for remote staff.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:24:22] Yeah, and here's the other thing, too, is I don't know where you're at, but I, I'm willing to bet most every face on that screen is probably better what they do and more efficient than what you can find in your town. Oh yeah.

 

Tersh Blissett: [00:24:33] We're in a small town right outside of Savannah. So we like we're 60 miles away from downtown Savannah. And if we we we have a very small pool locally for what we needed for sure.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:24:48] Yeah. If I need, like, a rock star marketer, that's really going to help us, like, grow one hundred percent next year. What are the odds of you finding that. Right. Fit in much less where you're at or even Savannah. Probably very slim. But if you're willing to open that pool up nationwide or maybe even worldwide, you can find somebody who's a lot better, more efficient, who's been there, done that. And it's better to hire them for five hours a week rather than soozie marketer marketer quotes for forty hours a week.

 

Tersh Blissett: [00:25:17] Yeah, man, this is awesome. Dude, I appreciate it. This is I mean, we've gone like ten minutes over what we said we would. But if people want to get in touch with you, learn more about you, what's the best way for that to happen.

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:25:30] Yeah. So anybody listening to this doesn't want to like you talk about the highest, best use of your time. You don't need to cut your own grass. You can just download Repellant App Store. You hooked up with a great lawn mowing service. You can use it in anywhere in the United States. We're not yet in Canada yet, but will soon. Anybody wants to reach me personally linked. And I've been hanging out there a lot more lately. Just hit me like that.

 

Tersh Blissett: [00:25:51] All right. Cool man. And if I am a lawn care company that wants to get connected with you, what's the best way for that to happen?

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:25:57] Yeah, just go to your green dot com, scroll down to the bottom and click apply as a vendor and you can get set up. And I just listed fifteen minutes.

 

Tersh Blissett: [00:26:05] Sweet man, I appreciate it. Is there anything that I forgot to ask me?

 

Bryan Clayton: [00:26:09] I think we hopefully the people listening to this got got, got some value out of it. And I hope, I hope that, that people listening this will be encouraged to rebuild their business from the inside out and using technology to do it.

 

Tersh Blissett: [00:26:21] Absolutely. Absolutely. I agree with you a hundred percent. If you've watched this and you have any questions about anything, don't hesitate to reach out to Ryan or myself. As always, my email is Tersh, Service Emperor, dot com. All of this will be in the show next as well. I hope you have a wonderful day. And until we talk again next time, be safe.