More Leads Online Podcast Episode 008

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Alex Hallmark Round 2 1
Alex Hallmark Round 2 2
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Alex Hallmark Round 2 1
Alex Hallmark Round 2 2
Google Podcasts
YouTube Link

Alex Hallmark Round 2

Nathan Young, MLO (00:00:00):
Hey everybody. It’s Nathan Young, I’m back with the Home Service Leaders podcast. I’m here with Alex,

Alex. You’ve been here before. Welcome back.

Alex Hallmark (00:00:09): Happy to be here.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:00:10):
Remind us again. Who is Alex and what does he do?

Alex Hallmark (00:00:14):

I work for a few different companies, uh, fluid services, which is a marketing and operational and software as a service, uh, company, uh, for field service companies specifically really appliance repairs, our main bread and butter, but we will help folks in HPAC plumbing, et cetera. Uh, but my real, uh, background comes in the appliance repair industry, uh, specifically with Fred’s appliance, where I run the company with Adam butcher, who is the primary owner of Fred’s service. And we also have our own Academy called Fred’s appliance Academy, where we train technicians from all across the country to learn appliance repair. And that’s that’s me in a nutshell.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:00:47):
I feel like you’ve said that once or twice before,

Alex Hallmark (00:00:49): Just a few times, just a few,

Nathan Young, MLO (00:00:51):

The last time we talked, you actually talked to Austin, but the last time that you were on the podcast, first of all, we were called the More Leads Online podcast. We’ve since rebranded to the home service leaders podcast, which I’m super excited about because that’s what you are. You’re a leader in the home services. Um, and we’re hearing from you. And that’s what the most important thing is. Right? And so what’s been going on since we last spoke. Tell me a little, the reality is it’s been a shit year. Unpack that for me a little bit for you guys. How have things shifted for you?

Alex Hallmark (00:01:23):

Well, since when COVID hit the big panic was PPE procedures, how do we handle this? Is it safe for the techs to get in the home? Once that stuff kind of settled a little bit? The next major concern was the office staff and working remote and where we had areas with some companies that had to shut down for two weeks because they were all gathering in one location. One person gets COVID. The protocol is you got to shut everything down and that’s happened for a few different companies. We’ve been fortunate at Fred’s. We’ve been remote since 2019 at the beginning of it, a hundred percent. Uh, the techs have been re been remote since 2010. So they’ve been running from home since the last decade. So we were just trying to help scramble. We created a guide on our website to kind of try and spell out common areas that they needed to look at and where to address it.

Alex Hallmark (00:02:12):

Adam took the time to spell out a procedure list on what you should do in the home. Like what, you know, booties take a garbage bag, put it all in the garbage bag. So this was all back when we were afraid of our groceries and stuff like that too. So, you know, we weren’t sure if it was airborne or touch or wherever the primary concern was. So that was the scramble. Um, the business side of it. Once the, once the stimulus checks rolled out, it, it turned into a show. I mean, it was just whether you were selling the appliances, you couldn’t keep up with it. And you still can’t black Friday, uh, one dealer, uh, Yale appliance. I highly recommend them from a content standpoint. They post a ton of content where they’ll share their sales numbers and what’s trending. So they were sharing stuff like it was a three to six month.

Alex Hallmark (00:02:56):

Wait, if you were buying a new appliance that week. So hopefully you weren’t moving into the house next month because you’re not going to have the fridge. Sorry. So yeah, we had that. We had those concerns on the sales side and the repair side, and we’re still dealing with them today as prepare a supply chain issues, um, where you just can’t get the part. So this is one area where appliance repair really is different than everybody else plumbing. There’s a ton of SKUs, but when it comes to appliances, we destroy it. It’s like grains of sand on a beach when it comes to all the different types of part numbers that exist. And it’s not a matter of just having one part number. You could have a board it was made in China. Well, China, the boats won’t ship out. COVID whatever. Now it’s got to be made in Malaysia. Oh, Nope. Can’t make it there anymore. Now it’s gotta be made in Taiwan. All three of those have different part numbers. All of them might have different series and how they’re made. And then they’re shipped to us. They’re coming in the wrong box. They’re not coming at all. The tracking information is sometimes not accurate. And meanwhile, you’re the customer in all this trying to understand from our perspective that I can’t make the parts show up, but you know, I understand why you’re mad at me because we’re not able to fix it

Nathan Young, MLO (00:04:01):

Well. Right. And, and my experience as a customer, what I’ve gotten accustomed to is that I say fix it. And you say we did. And that’s like, that’s the end of my responsibility as a customer. And so now it’s three months later and you’re trying to explain what you just did to me, which is that your supply chain is disrupted in this hilariously impossible way. And as a customer, I’m like, why is this my problem? Right?

Alex Hallmark (00:04:28):

That it’s not their problem. You know, customers shouldn’t have to go through with all that, but at least it does seem like customer awareness is, is being realistic now because it’s not just us, you know, you go out and buy furniture, you go buy a bicycle, you know, anything where you were staying at home, everything’s sold out. It took me awhile to get a webcam. I think it was a two month back order. That’s why I was talking to you last time on a laptop.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:04:51):

So we started, we, uh, Samantha and I, we, we, our story’s ridiculous for the year 20, 20, but effectively I was supposed to move to Minnesota, my family and I were supposed to move to Minnesota, not just me, but, um, we were supposed to move to Minnesota in February and like right in February. So we were like looking at houses in February and we were supposed to be at an office there. And, uh, I was going to take a part-time position basically as an operations officer to help a guy like, uh, rebuild a

business. That’s just, you know, part of what I like to do. Um, so I’m running this company and I was like, sure, I’ll take on helping you rebuild some other company. Um, cause why wouldn’t I do that? And our company obviously is completely distributed. We’ve been digital since day one.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:05:36):

And I have a fantastic team and we have super clean processes and sales. We struggle with not systems. So I’m looking at this and I’m talking to Samantha and we’re in the very beginning of February and I’m looking at her and I’m going, I think maybe we should take this more seriously than we’re being told to right now. So we, we were pre like, you know, the grocery and all that stuff that happened. We did the same thing, but we were two weeks before it’s so many weird looks and our friends were like, what is the deal? And whatever. So we’re like two, three weeks before that. But the thing about that was I remember having that conversation with her and saying, you know, what, if things start to look like they might get a little dicey, like sure. Let’s buy out some blitz, buy some groceries out a few weeks ahead or whatever. I’m going to go buy a chest freezer.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:06:27):

No, you’re not like, so. And like the first week of March, I go to look for a chest freezer. I call every appliance store near me. You know, like I start with little guys. I go all the way up to box stores. And they’re like, we don’t know. It’s not, it’s not like a, this might take a month, two months, three months, wait time. They’re like, we don’t know when we’ll get another chest freezer in stock. It may not be this year. We’re at that point. And I was like, Oh, so like everything you’re saying rings true in my literal experience where we were like trying to get this stuff. And I was like that. I think that’s what set off all the alarms in my head as like, Oh, this is really real because I was trying to order these products, just appliances. I knew how the distribution channels worked because I use like, my family runs it appliance sales of retail appliance sales store. So I’m calling almo distributors or whatever it is, you know, and I’m going, I buy my appliances from the same place Lowe’s does and um, for wholesale. And so I’m calling them directly now and they’re like, no, it’s the last one. I went out of the warehouse a week ago. And like our guys in China, whatever are like, there aren’t any more coming.

Alex Hallmark (00:07:54):

Yeah. A lot of freezers don’t get made here. That’s what really spurred that, that whole thing. There’s a few, you know, the upright stuff, the bigger ones, but like they’re all the small chest ones. They’ll they’ll think that elite don’t look different regardless of the name that’s on it. And yeah, we should be making more stuff here. But then again, if we made that $200 chest freezer here, it’s not a hundred bucks. So that’s the paradigm, but obviously they’d sell right now. But as I got to sell in 2021, 2022, that’s right. Factories don’t know what to do at this point. I don’t think any of them really know what to do. Cause it’s hard to predict the buying patterns that you’re going to see this year. There was countless examples that I would see online of factory lines that have all this stuff all around the line nothing’s being made.

Alex Hallmark (00:08:37):

It was they’re missing one thing. And they have to just sit there because they’re like, well, we can’t keep, you can’t use this line for something else that requires all retrofitting what it needs to do. And so it’s just going to sit here for weeks and, and some of those would be parts that could help us fix stuff out in the field, but they’d have to unpack them, repack them. Retag who’s doing that. We don’t have enough labor probably to fix all the problems as it is. I don’t think that problem’s going to get sorted hopefully, probably for at least another year. Um, because all the manufacturers and one of the negatives in our

industry is all these skews with parts. Well that contribute that compounds. It is. They want to make a new product every year, even if it’s not really new, but it’s new to the parts distributors and the different man, those different mechanics. So they have to come up with new numbers and new things to stock. And then that continues to perpetuate. I’m hopeful that COVID will make them stop doing that. And they’ll just stop creating so many skews. Could you imagine if the iPhone had like 2000 different skews?

Nathan Young, MLO (00:09:31):
Oh my gosh. I get mad when there are five,

Alex Hallmark (00:09:36):

You know, and when you come in the, into a appliance store and you’re see a washing machine and they look at the other brand washing machine, you’re like, you open the top and you’re like, these look exactly the same inside. They are. What a great buying experience. Oh man. I, I trust these brands. So implicitly because of these games, they play with us as consumers and you can Google it and you’ll figure out what brand owns, who it’s not like it’s top secret info, so

Nathan Young, MLO (00:10:02):

Right. Yeah, exactly. Go up one or two levels in the chain. And you’re like, Oh, you guys are all, it’s this one company who makes all of it, you just slapped different labels on it. Fun facts for anyone who doesn’t know the label tag for the appliance gets when we were. So again, like my parents own a furniture and appliance retail store. When we swapped, we used to sell exclusively used appliances. We swapped over to new appliances because new appliances had gotten so cheap. We were carrying Frigidaire, bud and Maytag, but all the subsidiary brands. So like hot point is just Frigidaire. We would order some of these are supposed to be Frigidaire. Some of these are supposed to be hot point. Some of these are supposed to be, I’m thinking of a different one this time.

Alex Hallmark (00:10:45):
Um, Tappan, Calvinator Gibson. That’s I forget whatever. I know what you’re saying. Yeah. Do you try

and get that cheaper one, but go on.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:10:53):

But what we would get all the appliances and then they would also hand us a bag of labels. Like the little things that, so we are the guys in the retail store who are sticking the Frigidaire, like emblem on your thing. And if we screw that up and put the hot 0.1 on like, you’ll never know, there’s no difference.

Alex Hallmark (00:11:18):

It’s just such a disingenuous thing to do with customers. I think at the stage where we’re in the internet era, we have to start looking at it going there. They’re smart enough to just take the model number and go home and look it up. And we see this with parts, you know, it’s the same best buy. I dealt with it with Amazon. When it came out in the market, we have that problem with replacement parts. You can go if I quote you for something, Amazon’s very likely to have it cheaper. So it’s just being aware of that. And then working around that.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:11:42):

So as you’re training these guys as you’re training guys in the industry, both business owners and also journeymen, right? Cause I mean like you’re doing both, you’re helping both. I was recently talking to Derek Clarkin he is the president of a general contracting company in Minnesota. We talked a lot about how COVID has affected his teams. He said something very similar to you in that they do large commercial construction and some residential like, uh, renovations and things like that. But he was like, Oh, we had one building where an entire floor, like we were building a floor. We had like 50,000 square feet. And all of it was stuck because we couldn’t get the overhead light. So the entire project ground to this hall, they have materials everywhere. And he’s like, you can’t get these light installation fixtures. It’s impossible. But you have to get that because you know, in XYZ it’s

Alex Hallmark (00:12:35):
You can’t, you can’t finish the job. You can’t. Yeah.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:12:38):

And so, as we’re seeing that, what he basically said is, I mean, again and again, and again, he just stressed the importance of like being flexible, being able to adjust. How are you telling texts and telling business owners? Like we know there’s a problem. How are you helping them adjust to that?

Alex Hallmark (00:12:57):

Take a deep breath things. Aren’t going to go well and started trying to figure out how you can control stuff. So you can’t make the parts show up quicker. So are you notifying your customers that the parts on order are you rescheduling customers aggressively? So in other words, we typically pre COVID days, you, we could go into a house, we diagnose you needed something we didn’t have. We would reschedule you in the home. We took the time to make sure you’re in our slot in a future position. That is still very rare. We’ve been doing that for a decade and we’ve been preaching it for a decade. It’s still very rare that people are doing that. The burden is on us as the owners and the appliance repair company to execute when something goes wrong. What if this is? It’s like, that’s great. So that’s, that’s why you’re getting negative feedback because the customer has no freaking clue of these challenges you have to educate.

Alex Hallmark (00:13:49):

And so then they go another valid, a reasonable excuse would be, well, you pick up the phone, nobody wants to have to answer the call to hear these a hundred percent agree. We don’t pick up the phone either. And then that’s where their heads explode. What do you mean? We text them. We text them, text them. We just shoot a quick text like, yo, Hey, this is still on back order. We had you scheduled for this date. We’re going to push you a week back. Is that cool? Do you just want us to take off the schedule and say, go away until this part comes in? That’s it all done by text? Everyone leaves us alone. That’s it. And now, now our team is nowhere near as burdened. They’re not overwhelmed with the constant picking up the phone and doing that scenario every time where you have that conflict.

Alex Hallmark (00:14:30):

Cause you’ve got to have conflict because you’re not giving the customer what they want. So if we can, like at least parse that off, the, the, they really angry customers will pick up the phone and have a conversation. We can go from there. And then we have the energy to help those people. Or at least take the time to break down what’s going on. And at the time I would talk to a customer, I would take the time to explain to them how this is working. China’s doing this. We get the product from here. We bring

it over here. It’s a little overwhelming for a customer, but it’s like, Hey, you, you, you asked here’s the answer.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:15:00):

Great. One of the, again, I just mentioned Derek, but, um, it’s the most recent show that I did. So like it’s very much in my head right now, but also it kind of chimes to just how not different. A lot of like, yeah, sure. We’re technically in the home services are, I would consider this a trade and he’s in general contracting, they’re building buildings, but we have the same issues, which is people, people are people, right? So whether they’re in Minnesota or whether they’re in Utah or whatever, no matter who wants to argue that people are people and they want effectively the same stuff. And he basically just kept saying again and again, it was really, I would say it was impressive how consistent that he was sticking to this and how he had rolled this out throughout his company. He was like, we have to be agile.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:15:50):

And we have to be honest and transparent. He’s like gone is the day where your customer will say, Hey, aren’t we supposed to have that thing? Or won’t, won’t that thing be ready? Like by whatever day and in your head, you’re like, I haven’t even started on that. Sure. I’m just gonna scramble. And you know, like I’m going to pull a hail Mary and scramble and have that thing done in two days. You can’t there’s, there is no such thing as pulling a scramble and getting it done. Like you can’t, it’s, you’re stuck because you, that boat didn’t leave Malaysia. So either you bite the bullet and you get really honest and really transparent right away with your customer, Hey, how long will this take? I’m going to be really transparent with you. We have no idea. It honestly could be anywhere from two weeks, which is where we would love to schedule you. That’s what we’re hoping transparently. We might not get that part for another four months. And so how do we make a decision from there? And like, you will either keep a customer or lose them in this moment because of that transparency and honesty. If you don’t do that, you’re winning and losing based on that one willingness right now. And I’m saying that and you’re saying yes, no,

Alex Hallmark (00:17:13):

I, I agree. I agree with you. So the other thing too is we’re going even a step further and we used to have our 800 number and you would have to do touchstone stuff. It’s all gone. You immediately talk to a human. It sucks. You know? Cause sadly we are way easier to get in touch with than any other part of this entire repair supply chain. Um, so our team gets to deal with the, you know, uh, on the whole, with this manufacturer, I was on the whole with this insurance company for the last three hours. Yeah. You gotta call them again. And they’re the ones that authorize the repair. So it were more accessible, but I could, uh, that’s area where it’s like, why is these companies struggling? It’s like, well, can I get a human on the phone when I dial the number or do, are you gonna make me do homework as the customer?

Alex Hallmark (00:17:56):

I am to figure out which zip code to enter because I own a private apartment complex is I don’t know which fricking one you want. Oh, it doesn’t hear me. The automated message. Now wants me to do it again. Uh, all that. Stuff’s got to go away, not just for us, but big companies should be doing the same thing too. But you know, one thing at a time, but all small businesses just dump all that stuff. We used to do it because it was, we thought we were doing something that helped the customer. But ultimately all we’re doing is making it, trying to make it easier for us. Well, if I route them to the parts guy, the parts

guy doesn’t have that moment where he’s talking to a customer, God forbid the parts guy talks to a customer. Like that’s the whole fricking point where a year.

Alex Hallmark (00:18:33):

And sometimes if they talk to you, you could save the job, you know? And it’s just a matter of freeing up their time and being more efficient. So yeah, little stuff like it’s a bunch of little things and that’s what drives people nuts. As they’re hoping that when we talk to them that we have some awesome Fred’s solution that I just open a box and it’s ready to rock. And it’s like, no, no, it’s all little stuff in your procedures and how you’re interacting with your customers. Are you doing every, are you thinking ahead? You have to always have the answer ready before they even ask it. But you have to ask those questions internally. If you’re not asking those questions internally, none of this gets done. And then we just, we’re we’re talking about the same year after year. And it’s like, yeah, this is why nothing’s changing. Well,

Nathan Young, MLO (00:19:14):

Yeah. I mean, like you just said something, that’s a truism of business overall though, right? Like people constantly, I talk to people about their business ideas, why their business was successful, what failed about it, blah, blah, blah. And I mean, you can start a business by like choosing any of the things that you need in a business and just closing your eyes and throwing a dart at a board and be like, that’s the thing I’ll do first. But if you want to grow, right. Cause there’s a difference. If you want to, if you want to be an artisan, if you want to like ply your trade, but you don’t want to run a company. If you want to just be that like skilled individual specialist, whatever that has that small group, that tiny tribe of hyper loyal customers. Great. You don’t have to do any of the that we’re talking about, but you are because you have this practical, you basically have this personal relationship with them. So there’s just so much grace built in. If you don’t, if you actually want to grow, if you want to work with people that you’ve never met before, and you’re not doing the stuff that we’re talking about right now, the stuff you’re telling me about you’re going, gonna hit the ceiling. It’s it’s just, it’s not the new, it’s not the next automation. That’s the thing that gets you there because you’re literally telling me take some of that crap out of your business

Alex Hallmark (00:20:39):

In some cases. Yeah. It just depends. It depends on what you’re trying to accomplish our business as well is not a, uh, not a want, you know, there is some field services where there’s a one, you know, you’re doing landscaping. People want a nicer yard, you know, and they’ll pay extra because it’s going to look nice and make them feel better. No one feels great when their fridge breaks, but I’m never, I’m not going to make it any better than what it was. It’s a maintenance only, uh, uh, scenario. So because of that, we’re always dealing with hostility. So what can we improve? Well, we can improve. We can make this as painless as possible. I have a dentist. This guy is awesome. Uh, I haven’t gone since COVID, but man, when I went there before, he’s like, he pulls the gas right out. He’s like how much you want, because he’s just right out of the gate.

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Alex Hallmark (00:21:24):

Like how’s the chair chairs, nice and company, let’s get you drugged up. Like that’s his first priority, you know? And it’s not like a bad thing. Cause it seems like, you know, he’s not pushing it on you. He’s just, I want you to relax. I want you to just be a big smile. I have to say that was the best dentist appointment I’ve ever had because he was worried about me. He wasn’t worried about make sure you follow our

procedures. Well, you didn’t bring the right form. Get back in the waiting thing. Get another form. Yep. Now. Okay. Uh, you know, and that’s why I’m going to that dentist over somebody else. I don’t want to go to the dentist. I never want to go to the dentist. So the fact that they’re thinking about me and making it as easy as possible for me, I’ll come back and that’s really in a nutshell why Amazon is trillions of dollars. Cause they thought about me

Nathan Young, MLO (00:22:04):

When I asked my local anything. I want this thing, you have it in store. When can I have it? And they’re like, we can get it to you in five days. And I’m like, why would I, aside from just my personal loyalty to this concept of buying locally, why would I do that? It’s not the best for me. And on some level, I understand that there needs to be a break at some point at some point, right? Like we have to be people and be like, I do want to support the guy down the street. And I do it plays in, but on some level being a business owner, this is the reality that you’re going to smack into, which is if you take care of your customers really well, and your customers think that they have the best experience, that’s capitalism, right? It’s you have the opportunity to do the absolute best for a person.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:23:02):

And so when that person has a pain that they need to solve, or they have a thing that they want and they want to get it, the things standing between them and their current state and the end state of that thing being in their hands, whatever is the fastest route is the first one through their brain. This is true for me. No matter how altruistic I want to try to get the first place I’m going to go is what is the fastest? What is the right? I’m going to go convenience, price, quality. And somehow I’m going to manage those three things. And so is everyone else, convenience, price, quality. And you can shuffle those three things around in priority for any product, any given product. But like, even for, I thought it was hilarious. You were just saying this appliance repair is always a bad time.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:23:59):

Uh I’ve I got StoryBrand certified this year. I don’t know if you’re familiar with, it’s basically like a, it’s a system for, uh, clarifying your message and the amount of like, I can’t explain what I actually do in business. Right. I can tell you about it for days, but as a potential customer, how much do you want before you like tune out? And the answer is roughly one sentence. So you did extraordinarily well, you named Fred’s appliance repair Academy. You you’re done right. Hey, what do you do? I run Fred’s appliance repair Academy. Got it. Simple.

Alex Hallmark (00:24:37):

It comes to marketing and stuff like that. It’s it’s such a, it’s such a loaded question. We, uh, we, uh, I could spend 45 minutes with a client just discussing the differences of Google. Oh yeah. Because you have to, because they all think that maps and local and all that, it’s all the same. And it’s not, it’s all different machines, you know? So

Nathan Young, MLO (00:24:55):

That’s the, and that’s the reason. So like I went and got StoryBrand certified cause frankly I’m not very good at being, um, what’s the word at brevity. I was doing a StoryBrand. So I was like clarifying this ma the message of this roofer and where we landed on, what message they wanted to lead with was basically your roof is going to break. That will suck. Let’s make fixing that as painless as possible. So they just like right up front, right? Like just address the elephant right upfront. You do not want to talk to me.

If you’re talking to me, something terrible is happening and your life now sucks. Right? Like me being here in my uniform, professionally trying to serve you means your life blows right now at the faster that you can recognize that and like sort of deal with it and then move to the next thing. It sounds like you’re saying the more open, honest, transparent, you can be the faster you’re going to get to loyalty of customers. First of all, gaining of customers and also loyalty of customers over time.

Alex Hallmark (00:26:10):

Yes. Uh, the sooner, the better, because you can’t expedite this, there’s no way to trick the public into trusting you faster. All you can do is the opposite, right? It’s the catastrophic, uh, God forbid you burned a house down and it’s because of your negligence and it got on the news and then you might as well just change your brand. So yeah, it’s only that way. And I joke with clients if like, because Sears is still considered the biggest servicer in the country, cause they’re just nationwide. And I said, if Sears called me tomorrow and wanted to have me do their marketing, I don’t care how much they’re spending. I can’t guarantee that the results they want searcher’s intent, Google changes, algorithms all like they have the same challenges we all do. They just have more money to burn maybe.

Alex Hallmark (00:26:55):

Yeah. So it’s just a matter of just getting these folks to understand that, that this is an investment and your brand is more damaged. It’s just like reviews and anything else that goes with that, all of that stuff just takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. And the same with all these transitions for change. That’s the other, that’s why I say take a breath. It’s like my first thing. Cause it’s not going to happen overnight. Especially when I demo stuff at Fred’s and how we’re doing something. I know I’m overwhelming them right out of the gate, but I have to kind of like show them like the result. Here’s the result. All right. So how did we get here? Here’s your first thing you want to tackle? Get back to me when you’re done. You know, that’s really how we try. It’s all the baby steps stuff. And that’s usually one of the most frustrating things. I think I’ve had feedback wise from an owners. They wish I could just shut out the solutions faster, but I wish I did, but then you wouldn’t be able to afford it because I’d be Google or something like that at that point. Right? Yeah.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:27:46): Great. I don’t in my own platform.

Alex Hallmark (00:27:47):

Yeah. And then you’re not talking to me at all. Sadly. I mean, that’s just the reality of it. So, you know yeah. It’s, it’s the leading them to the water. We just can’t force them to drink. We just have to keep trying to lead them to the water and then hopefully we get them there and that’s the baby step stuff, small stuff. Are you texting? Are you doing this? You know, how many times have you had a client like complained to you? Cause they’re not getting enough, uh, engagements on their website and they’re not web chatting.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:28:10): Oh my God. I, what,

Alex Hallmark (00:28:12):

What I mean, how do, how do you know they’re not engaging with you? You’re not, you’re not, it’s like you have a storefront and you don’t open the door cause you’re not web chatting. So it’s just literally people driving by your building and you’re like, this doesn’t work. Yeah.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:28:25):

I think it’s worse. Uh, um, so like we, I mean I’ve lived, I’ve lived this out in person, right? So we had a furniture and appliance repair, sorry, furniture and appliance retail. And we did appliance repair cause we sold used appliances and we fixed them. So we had a 6,000 square foot space growing up. And that I was in almost every day, it was a family business. Right? Like I’m eight years old. I’m doing my homework behind the counter. One of the things my dad made sure of. Cause my dad was owner. Right. So then my dad’s the owner, which also means he’s the everything else manager. And I remember him being like, I remember us putting, um, tall things in front of the counter for a few days. And then him being like, Nope, that won’t work. Why? Because I have to be able to see the whole floor to know when people walk in and if I need to go help them or right.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:29:19):

Like you can see what their behavior is. But like one of the most critical things that we have to do is go interact with the customer when they walk in. And he’s like, it doesn’t matter if they don’t want to talk to you. The point is that you have to make sure that they understand you’re available. Always you are not secretly behind the counter. And if they want to talk to you, you’re bothering them. You can’t, you cannot make it hard. So he’s like, that’s what he drilled at eight years old, he’s drilling this into me. He’s like, you’re going to take the flyer that they, you know, they don’t necessarily want. And you’re going to go up there and you’re going to say hi, however I can help you. I’ll be sitting at the counter. Don’t want to bug you always available just yet.

Alex Hallmark (00:30:05):
And if we correlate that to online, that’s just having that little button in the lower right hand corner. So

the worst thing,

Nathan Young, MLO (00:30:12):
Right? The worst thing you can do is take everybody from the counter and leave the door open for

customers and take everybody from the counter and put them in the back room. Okay.

Alex Hallmark (00:30:24):
Yes. So that’s, that is worse than keeping the door closed. You’re a hundred percent, right?

Nathan Young, MLO (00:30:28):

It happened to my dad. Like my dad has gone, Oh, it’s a dead day. It’s a Saturday, but it’s a holiday. No one is coming in today. I’m going to go in the back room. We have a super loud doorbell. I’m just going to take a 20 minute power nap and he’s had customers. Right. He was just really tired that day. And they walked in, looked around, blocked out. That’s the end. Oh you missed it.

Alex Hallmark (00:30:47):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s that, that’s how quick it can happen.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:30:53):

So for 2021, I want to talk a little bit about, uh, appliance repair and specifically like the Academy. How are you guys preparing for, or what adjustments have you made to make sure that the Academy is relevant today and continuing into next year?

Alex Hallmark (00:31:10):

Our pivot with the Academy is to focus on online training. Our ultimate goal. If I had just said, gave me a blank check and a hundred instructors, then I can just this, what do you want to do? Our goal is to try and take our three week courses that we were doing in house and help others do it at their house. Not necessarily your house, but their business. So the, the initial part is that at least getting the knowledge stuff down, uh, so we’re creating, uh, interactive reference guides essentially that are based off customer complaints and trying to just get someone up to speed to where they, God forbid, they, you have to send them on the road tomorrow. We wouldn’t recommend doing that, but you’re going to do it. Especially if you’re a self servicing dealer. If you were servicing what you sell, you, you got two options.

Alex Hallmark (00:31:51):

You either swap in the unit which, or we’re fixing it. So that means, yes, I understand you only have a week experience get out there. So our courses, aren’t just about teaching you in the moment. You can go back to the course and look up something specific. Oh, I can’t remember how to check a split phase dryer, motor. Cool. There it is. You’ll search for it right in there. Uh, that’s been our focus. Um, I don’t know if we’ll be able to really achieve that. Our hope is, is that we’ll all the, the worst case scenario is, is that we’re going to have less classroom time when we reopened on, uh, live classes, where to spend even more time tearing stuff apart, which is really the most popular part of our classes is the hands-on application. But we have to make sure that you understand what you’re doing, not going to hurt yourself.

Alex Hallmark (00:32:30):

So if we can try and do some of that stuff ahead of time before you come, our way we can re we can do even more in less time. That’s been the, the goal is to try and flip that we’ve always had online in the background, but it’s just our live classes. We’re just selling all the time. We were running classes every month and we just couldn’t put the resources towards it. We were spending more time proving the live classes itself. So that’s where we’re at now. Um, and we’ve got washers, uh, specifically front, top load and dry or gas and electric. So we have laundry, uh, that we can teach you those basic fundamentals on online at any time, do it at your own pace.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:33:06):
How much do you feel like moving online? I’ve heard this again and again, the pandemic has not

changed things. It has accelerated things.

Alex Hallmark (00:33:16):

Uh, I’m an Andrew Yang guy. I’m not going to get political here, red, blue. I don’t really care what the color is to be quite honest. I just loved what yang had to say. Yang would spell out the fact that this is, you know, he’s, he’s exactly in that camp saying that this has only exacerbated the issues that we were already experiencing. Yeah. I I’ll try to think of a specific example to lean on, but it, it just shows that the, the flexibility of owners wasn’t good enough, how many restaurants closed when they should have went

to delivery service. That, that just, I couldn’t wrap my brain around it where they just kind of folded their hands and said, no, Uber and door dash need to fix this system and give us more of a cut and blah, blah, blah. And it’s like, guys, that’s their app.

Alex Hallmark (00:34:01):

Like you can’t tell these folks what to do. Why don’t you just do your own? You can go with Google, my business, set up a little link. There’s all these free softwares where you could set up a delivery schedule, set up your own menu, take your own pictures and post it and get done. You’re done. You’re safe. Now you can do that. All could have been done in April, but yet businesses are still today. Haven’t taken those steps and they’re still going, Oh, someone needs to bail us out. Now guys, like you got to start adapting and they’re not doing, and that’s all that same stuff. I still was always surprised pre COVID that people weren’t doing delivery more. Yeah. I just never could wrap my head around that, except for the fact that I understood the people in charge of those specific businesses. Like the model that I have to, I have to think. I have to think about how we’re going to engage these new streams of revenue. Um, I’d rather just sit back and just let how it currently works. I thought it was respect that, but you can’t, you can’t go. Can’t be upset now because you chose to sit back and that’s where, uh, yeah. I firmly believe that this just accelerated stuff. For sure.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:35:01):

I said a few things. I actually said this about 10 minutes ago in our conversation. But I was like, look, the benefit of capitalism is that you get the opportunity to serve anyone you want, basically in any way you want, as long as you can convince them that it’s worth it. But that freedom comes with equal risk, which is if you are ever not the best way, then you don’t get picked. Like your tribe has shockingly less loyalty than you think they do

Alex Hallmark (00:35:32):

A hundred percent. COVID proof that there’s the it’s not even debate. Why are restaurants closed local, local people. You probably knew them. How many times you go to eat? Oh, you can’t afford it. That’s Baja. So yeah, it’s just stuff like that. It’s just, uh, it’s, it’s a shame. But at the same time, it’s, it seems to be a cycle. These things seem to always keep coming around. It’s just, is it a pandemic that causes it? Is it mismanagement at the treasury, you know, stock market, stuff like that.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:36:00):

Inevitably the system that we live and die on currently, this is, I mean, this is just state of things. As we know it, and it has been the state of things. This is both how we got here. And so far where we have to go, which is, Hey, we’ve all agreed to live under a structure where we get nearly infinite opportunity on the way up and a total free fall on the way down. And it’s totally up to you. I would, I would argue there, there, this has also revealed that this statement that I just made is not always true and there’s a lot more nuance to that. But the basic idea is supposed to be infinite up total free, fall down, right? If you screw this up, you’re dead and you go out of business and that’s all there is. And so, and we’re watching that. We’re literally watching like, Oh, you, uh, you picked up Uber eats or you picked up door dash, or you pick up whatever. That’s like delivering your food. Cool. I’m going to continue ordering from you. Oh, I have to show up. And I have to, you have a dining room open and that’s the up. I’m not even gonna bother

Alex Hallmark (00:37:05):

Your menu’s wrong in these apps. That always drove me nuts too. How do you not? Yeah, I know I’m preaching to the choir with this stuff, but like, yeah, that kind of stuff just drives me nuts where it’s just like, well, no wonder. You’re closing your batteries inaccurate. The pricing’s not right. You know, there’s all these reasons for me not to buy from you. You’re getting all these opportunities to leave.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:37:25):

Yes. You’re giving me so many. That’s a man. That’s so good. You’re giving me so many opportunities to leave. I’m going to quit. I’m going to blow. You’re going to look at it a little dash in your name after that one then. So if you’re, I’m sorry, refocusing again on the, um, I said this to you before we started recording, but I was like, man, we could probably have this conversation all day

Alex Hallmark (00:37:43):
And I get on tangents. So I don’t mind you constantly bringing us back to center. Yeah,

Nathan Young, MLO (00:37:47):

No problem. So you guys are focusing on that. I just mentioned this capitalism thing, the whole point of me saying that is to basically ask you this question. This is true. Both for I’m asking this for you. And I’m also asking it for how you’re training business owners does the shift to online, present a moment where you’ve effectively opened the room to 400% more competition than you have

Alex Hallmark (00:38:15):

As far as competition as a service company or as a, as a educator, as a service company. No reason. The reason I say no so casually like that is because we’ve trained our own competition at the Academy, in our own service market. The guys that literally could take money out of my pocket, I’ve trained their techs. There’s two, there’s two major. There’s three, actually in our Cleveland market, all of them have sent texts to our Academy. They’ve heard of our pitches and how we operate, how we run. I haven’t seen them take market share from us though, but sorry guys, if you’re watching, what’s there, but seriously though, that’s just, you know, uh, more what, what’s the worst case scenario that we’re going to do is I’m going to have more, better qualified techs working in the marketplace and we need it. It’s not a matter of, uh, that I can get picky and just worry about ourselves.

Alex Hallmark (00:39:06):

There’s not enough of us. So if we lose two techs, we’re in tough. We’re all every company you talk to that would lose a couple field techs. It’s a tough battle at that point, we, especially with, COVID just randomly saying, Hey, two weeks now you’re going to lose this tech. So it’s just this. We need as many as we can get. Once we get to a point where there’s texts on a tree, that I can just go to a farm and pick them off. Okay. Maybe, maybe we’ll start bringing this in house and we’re not going to train people anymore, but we got a few decades to go, I think before we’re at that point. So yeah, I’m not, I encourage more and more companies to open up. Cause you’re gonna learn. I learned, I have, that’s the benefit. When you train people as, as a teacher, you still learn. You’re gonna go, why the hell are you doing it that way? And they explain it to you. And you’re like, Hmm, that’s actually better than our way. We’re taking that from you. Sorry. And I’m going to start training everybody else to do the same thing.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:39:55):

Right? Both the blessing and the curse of our training is that we’re learning from you, which means we’re going to teach you. But also we’re going to disseminate what you just said across everything else.

Alex Hallmark (00:40:03):

Yeah. But it’s a, it’s an open thing. Like we say, right out of the gate, like this is, we’re here to learn. We’re here to share, you know, the difference between us is we’re going to go back to those little things. That’s, what’s going to separate the customer, picking you versus me. Are you going to take the time to have the procedures in place to communicate by text and have the web chat and all that? Are you going to do? You’re not going to do that. All right. Yeah. I’ll train you all day.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:40:26):

The thing that we have done, uh, at More Leads Online, you focus heavily on appliance repair Academy. You also frankly have your own appliance repair company. Yes. Confirm. Yep. And also you run a marketing company that specializes, obviously in this, uh, you mentioned obviously you’re willing to go wider in the home and trade services. Similar to us. I have a saying, I have a similar statement about what you just said, which is technically aren’t we like aren’t you and I competing. And I would say technically, yes. And there’s no freaking chance that we can serve everyone who needs our support because they’re not even done growing. Right? Like I, we need to make a hundred percent more attacks.

Alex Hallmark (00:41:10):

That is exactly why fluid services exists. I was teaching, we kept hearing horror stories about how people are running their businesses. We’d have owners come and take the class because some of them would buy a company. And they’re like, I just need to have a kind of an idea what the hell these guys are talking about. Others I’ve just started my own. But whatever, every single one of those owners would open up our eyes to all these challenges that they’re having. And it’s like, well, how’s our Academy going to get more students. We can’t get more. Most of our students come from people that are already hired. We don’t tend to get general public people. It’s not a sexy job. People aren’t graduating from high school and going on Instagram, going, yo, man, I’m going to be going to fixed. Like, this is just, this is not happening.

Alex Hallmark (00:41:47):

You know? So the, the, the general public isn’t interested in our career and they’re not interested in a lot of traits. So it’s not just us, obviously. So, but once they, once they come through the ropes of an established company, that’s where we’re seeing a lot of the, the students for us and these established companies, we want to help them run better because you’re going to run better. Guess what means you’re going to have to hire more techs. And then that means more work for us. So it’s, uh, it’s, we’re I say that right out in front, when you’re working with fluid, you’re basically just giving us the money so we can invest the better tools. So you guys can make more money. So you can send me more techs.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:42:20):

Yeah. It’s like an altruistic flywheel. Like that makes a ton of sense to me that as your, so I think I understand it in what you just said, but something that we did as more leads online. So we’re like, Oh, we’re this, we’re this marketing company. We want to specialize in the home and trades. We have the, I often make this joke. I’m like, Oh, marketing companies are actually operations in disguise. And we just said this earlier, where it’s like, I can tell you on your website, if you have traffic that you should be engaging, but you’re not because we, you didn’t, you told me I couldn’t put live chat on your site. And like, that’s a, that’s a real conversation. I asked a dozen people at the beginning of 2020, can I put live chat on your site? I spent six months researching the absolute best easiest system. I got, I found one

where a person could live chat on the site and it would send a text, a real text, not like an app, an actual text, and the person could text back. And they were like, no, we don’t want to deal with it.

Alex Hallmark (00:43:30): Uh, and I was like, Oh,

Nathan Young, MLO (00:43:32):
I mean like what, what I, what was I going to say? I’m not going to fight the business owner. Right.

Alex Hallmark (00:43:36):

I actually casually joke with most people when they tell me no to stuff and just say, Hey, that’s cool. You’re just giving me a scapegoat. When you come to me and say, you’re not getting enough work. Cause I’m going to say, have you done this yet? Oh, you had it great. Then let me know when this is done and we’ll move to the next task, you know? So that, that, it’s, it’s sad that it has to get to that point. But yeah, I don’t know, especially when you were willing to conform it, to make it work for a technician lifestyle. Cause a lot of owners are out on the road. So they are afraid of adding additional applications for them to manage and you’re going to spoonfeed them by text. And they still said, no,

Learn the 6 things to do before hiring a marketing agency

Nathan Young, MLO (00:44:10):

We partnered with this company called garage starts and they’re out of upper Minnesota. And the whole idea for garage starts is that they really focus on helping a company scale from zero to 3 million. And that like, that’s, their specialty is we’ll take you from zero to 3 million. And really that’s my career specialty too. Like I’ve historically been a consultant or a fixer or grown my own built my own businesses. And yeah, I, but I, I have sort of historically capped out around that 3 million Mark where once you get to that point, like, I really need to bring in like a bigger, stronger team to sort of grow after that. But I can kind of like wrestle with force up to 3 million totally by myself, as long as other people will like do their jobs. And so we said, um, okay, well what we’re gonna do?

Nathan Young, MLO (00:45:04):

Cause we have the opportunity all the time, right? Who are you going to go partner with? And we were like, Oh, we could go partner with bright local, or we could go partner with our hosting company or we could go partner with another web design agency or we could go partner with, and we said, we’re going to go partner with a business consulting company. We’re going to go partner with a zero to 3 million specialty owner focused, uh, coaching consulting, a little bit of that boots on the ground. Right. And we said, that’s, that is what we’re going to go and make sure that we have next is we’re going to push this owner conversation out of our hands. And we’re going to hand this over to this consulting company who specializes in this. And that’s the pairing that we think is the most incredibly useful to our customers.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:45:54):

And so that was going to be my question to you is you’ve built a marketing company sort of as that next piece that you said, my customers desperately need something else besides the Academy. They need this marketing company too. And so where else do you think customers that between you and I, where can we take a next step and go, this is the most useful thing for business owners. So anyone listening to this podcast would say it would be great to hire those guys as marketing agency, or it would be great to hire those guys to send my texts to Fred’s appliance repair Academy. If you were going to recommend one other potential partner, who would you recommend them to?

Alex Hallmark (00:46:39):

Hmm. Another partner, I guess it depends on the overall question. So if it’s a matter of, I just want someone to generally help us. I, I guess my thing with me is I always lean on software. It’s how I’m able to do a lot for little, uh, labor. Um, this is because of the tools and uh, I hate to give somebody hell a shout out that doesn’t need it. But Google specifically Gmail that’s probably when I talked to a company, it’s okay, let me back up. Uh, you’re you’re a student at our Academy and you’re like, I want to start my own business. My first comment is don’t that’s my first comment is don’t do it because I usually already know at that time when they asked me how long they’ve been doing this and you’ve been doing it for two weeks, don’t I’m sure you could do it.

Alex Hallmark (00:47:26):

I’m sure it’ll go fantastic. You need time. You need to learn how to fix stuff. First, Fred, our, our founder, uh, Adam’s dad, who’s the primary owner. He started his own business when he was a kid was his brother. But I mean, he went to Sears, worked there for like a decade. Then that’s when Fred’s really started. And a lot of those procedures that he learned at Sears carried over to us and ultimately educated us when we were younger, uh, that, Hey, Sears, they ship parts direct to their customers. We should probably consider doing something like that. And you know, and we’re one of the few companies that still does it, um, where most companies are shipping to a centralized hub and then they distribute themselves, which, why would I do that? Ups was way better at that than me. Um, so you know, it was that kind of stuff.

Alex Hallmark (00:48:10):

And that all came from him, taking the time to learn from a big company and getting and perfecting something, just being really good at it. Fred is a, is a great leader, but he is a technician. That’s where his skill set was always his best. He never wanted to do the technology stuff. He knew he needed it, but it wasn’t his forte. He’d learned it dabble in it. But then that’s where his son, Adam and myself, we took that stuff on and helped him complete that side of it. Going back to your question, it’s a matter of just telling people to focus on that specific trade until your leadership that you’re working for is just not, you can clearly see it. And, and I should, at that point, it’s not something you need to ask somebody’s opinion on. It’s going to be man. I could probably, Oh, we’re not texting our customers.

Alex Hallmark (00:48:54):

We’re not getting back to them. We’re not following through there’s this, all these procedural issues, that’s a leadership problem. So that’s where there could be an opportunity. And maybe it’s you do it internally instead of opening up a new company, all that stuff. Just very, so my short answer is just focused on a, on a specific thing and, and that even trying and get into owning your own business, I it’s such a, it’s such a monumental task that most people just don’t understand what it’s going to take. Do you, do you know HR? Do you know what that takes and payroll and insurance, have you ever done an insurance claim before? Nope. Nope. Okay. Let’s back up. Let’s work for some work for somebody small learn about those challenges. The reason I’m confident in starting my own business with fluid, uh, branching off from the Academy is because I worked at serv Fred service at a young age.

Alex Hallmark (00:49:44):

And I learned, and I saw damage claims, insurance stuff, payroll issues, all these challenges that are very, just like you. When you were working at your parents, we were exposed that stuff. We don’t get taught that stuff in school. There was no classes for any of the. Right? So it’s experience and that’s really, yeah,

that’s my primary thing. Get more, get your feet, get so bored with the current path. You’re on to want to go do something else. And then you’ll be, then they’re much more likely to be successful because you be hungry. You’re going to have focus and you’re not going to get bogged down with some of these other things that Fred, wherever he had to learn, he didn’t have to at least know how to fix a washing machine. He knew that part, that part I’ll tell you on the phone wherever I had to do it. But it was then like, all right, here’s this situation. We damage this person’s floor. How do we handle this? Do we want to go to the insurance company? Do we want to try and pay out of pocket? W what’s the PR you know, so like it’s all that stuff nobody sees until it actually starts to hit him. So I, I, I just always encouraged not to go that route. I think I answered your question. See, I go on tangents.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:50:47):

So no I’m S I caught at least three things. I’m going to quote like, uh, we always turn, I mean, we always turn our, we follow the Gary Vaynerchuk model of content production, which is to do something like this. It’s a huge piece of content. There’s so much value here. Go make sure that I get someone who every couple of sentences out of their mouth and the gate, basically gonna be able to write it down and be like, we could probably just do this. And like, this is going to be good. So like, you’re just, uh, but you basically, like, you just speak in value, right? Like I’m just pulling it out of you left and right. And then I’m going to go take that. And I’m going to put it all over the place. Like I’m going to transcribe this and it’s going to go as a blog post on my website. I’m going to chop this up into a bunch of clips. Those are all going to go out on social. Like, and basically you just handed me fodder for weeks though. Like every time you go on a tangent, I’m like, that was four quotes. Like, those are solid. I’m going to repeat that. I’m going to stick that in our documentation somewhere. And I’m going to post it on Instagram.

Alex Hallmark (00:51:49):

I’m a huge fan of Gary V as well. He’s very, um, we, we, we speak the same language when he started, when I was first, hear him speak. I’m like, Hm. Yeah. I like, yeah. It’s like you got in my meetings. It’s like, yeah. His, his value approach, man, that is, it’s something very hard for businesses to understand it. So you’re sometimes going to have to give away for free. You know, it’s just, it’s not a matter of, you know, you have to educate, how else is anyone going to know that you bring value unless you start to show it.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:52:16):

One of the things that I’ve made a stand on. So we have two more. I have another question I want to focus specifically on marketing. And then I have another section that we’ve added since you’ve been here last, which I’ve called quickfire questions. One of the things that I did at more leads online is I looked at everything that marketing companies were doing on the whole. And I said, what can I do? That’s different. That’s incredibly valuable to my customers, really focusing on the customer themselves. And I said, I know marketing. And so I could teach them marketing. And I thought about that for a long time. And I looked at a lot of other marketing companies. And when every marketing company teaches you about marketing, I want to get them experts to help them run their own companies. Better, not by learning about marketing, but by learning about business, the realities of business today, how they need to adjust for things, how to treat customers, little things like the idea of texting. I think this is a true value that I can bring. And like, it’s going to be an expense to me. I’m not going to necessarily see a direct return this, but I think it’s the most valuable thing I can provide as an educational thing. And so that idea of what you just said and our decision to do this was like, we do need to teach. We do need to bring that value. We have to be doing that on the flip side. Let’s focus. Really? Yeah.

Alex Hallmark (00:53:47):

I was going to say real quick that, you know, most of my conversations with clients, even if it is a marketing conversation, it always tidbits right into operations because sadly, most of their questions are derivative from that. So yeah, you’re, you’re sniffing in the right area. I believe that’s most of my conversations. I don’t, I, I rarely talk about the actual marketing services that they’re hiring me for.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:54:07):

So from that, from exactly what I just said in what you just said, you run this marketing business, you found that that was this absolute need. How have you seen the needs of business owners change when it comes to marketing? Because of all this stuff that we’re dealing with, basically, like what has changed about their website? What has changed about their local SEO? Should they swap ad platforms? We had a lot of conversation around like, should I be switching to Facebook instead of Google paid search? Should we be doing Google local service ads? Which my answer is every single time. Absolutely. Yes. And how have you seen those things or needs accelerate change, whatever. From 2019 to today,

Alex Hallmark (00:54:50):

I haven’t seen it’s on a change. And I think that goes back to the fact that most of my clients, that when they hire me, they, they set it, forget it, you know? And I, you know, we, we, we do, I’m constantly looking at it myself and making determinations, but we tend to just what I, my approach is more of like, if we’re doing it at Fred’s, they almost always want to say yes to it, which is fair because that means somebody is actually actively doing it. So for example, we rolled out on the, on the websites this year, Google address autocomplete. So when you’re filling out an address on a web form, any anytime a web form had an address, it’s gonna ping Google. And we absorbed that cost as part of our monthly fees. We didn’t raise pricing and I just rolled it out.

Alex Hallmark (00:55:28):

It wasn’t a matter of just saying, Hey, do you want this? It was like, Hey, we’re using this spreads. It’s making life away easier. I just put it on yours. Let me know if you have any questions and the clients love it. At least they’re not complaining. So that’s, that’s been my approach. And I even do that with online chat. If I’m doing their website, now I put it on there. I even log in as them set up all the settings for them, spoonfeed it very similar to what you mentioned when you were talking about the texting situation from a web, from a web chat, whatever it takes for them to start using it. I’m trying to be like, here it is. It’s free. You don’t, unless you ready to start using it, then you’re gonna have to start doing some payment, but it’s all here. All you gotta do is when you’re in,

Nathan Young, MLO (00:56:05):

In the mood that, I mean, that’s a fantastic answer. What has changed? Nothing has changed. You should be doing the same crap you should have been doing this whole time. None of the platforms have made hilarious updates. The market demand the customer demand. And the way that we go about demanding things has not shifted that much. What we are demanding is still your service. The only real thing that has changed is how convenient are you? How honest are you?

Alex Hallmark (00:56:34):

There you go. That’s a good point. Yeah. If the consumer’s behavior has changed, changed in a way that as we were talking earlier, that we already kind of were seeing, we just only, it was a small percentage. Cause you didn’t have to figure out if your grocery store could deliver or not. It was only if you wanted them to now, it’s like, Oh my God, I could die. If I go to my grocery store, I definitely would prefer if they

deliver. So now all of a sudden you’ve got folks at any age, any technical skillset, trying to figure these things out. So it just, you know, yeah. It’s the consumer behavior that’s changed. I’d agree with that. For sure.

Nathan Young, MLO (00:57:03):

The one question I would ask based on that, and then I’m going to move to quickfire questions is I know I keep telling stories as a representation of context, but we grocery shop at all the mostly. And that’s how I grew up. All the has moved to this service that allows you to, they have internal shoppers for you and you can set that up and then they’ll give you like a pickup time. You drive in, you park in the pickup spot in the parking lot. You, you get a text, right? That says your groceries are ready. You send them a text that says, you know, it’s an auto response thing. It’s not like you have to customize anything. You just click some buttons. This is the color of my car. I’m in spot number three. Um, and I’m ready. I’m here. Right? And they walk out, you open up the hatch of your car either right then before they walk out or like, if you have an auto button or whatever, they load your groceries into the car, close the hatchet and walk on. I will never go back.

Alex Hallmark (00:58:04):

Yeah. Why would you, why would you do the work of the grocery store? Why would you go like, that’d be like going to Amazon and picking out in procuring your own. Like, Hey, gotta go down aisle seven, seven, 706. You know, it’s like, no makes no sense. Right? Yeah. I’m with you. I that’s the other thing too, where I’m still so confused where I’m like, why has no grocery store like converted to the Amazon model at this point? The Heinen’s giant Eagle, all these they’re all still, you still can come in and DIY, but we haven’t like taken half the store and say, let’s try and figure this out so we can roll out groceries ourselves. Right. Haven’t done it. I guess. I guess, you know,

Nathan Young, MLO (00:58:42):

Apparently all the has stepped one step into this. And so like, they are, they are doing what I just explained, which is I don’t have to do my own show. I now I just have placed an order show up, get the fulfillment done target actually. So I think my wife, Samantha is like a beta user or something like that. So she got this early, but they have where you can it locally to us. Cause we have a target about 10 minutes away. She can place an order. And I think it’s a target employee has that order at our, in like two hours. Oh my God. W w we said the same thing. We’re like, we’ll never be in target ever again. We’ll never shop inside of all the ever again, turn it into purely a warehouse. I don’t want any of the rest of it. Drop my groceries in my car, the end,

Alex Hallmark (00:59:41):

Uh, 85% of it should be aware. House 15% of it should be your display area. So if you want that window shot, cause there’s, I completely get there’s people that liked the shot. I’m not one of those folks, but I know I get it. The black Friday. I like to just go out and look and look at the new things and stores have to adjust for that, you know, put your best. What was it? Dwight troop, put your, put your money, beats up front. You know, when the prime beats up on the front of the street, that’s, you know, we’re not, we’re still going in the grocery store. You get to see the money beats and you get to see the horrible, ridiculous stuff that somebody picked up put in their shopping cart, went outside. Didn’t decide to buy it, brought it back in and put it back on the shelf. Like you’re involved in all of that chaos with it.

Nathan Young, MLO (01:00:24):

Absolutely for home service guys. What are the things that are the stuff that we’re talking about that won’t ever go back? Like this is the new bar. This is no longer an option. This is the new bar. Whether you will admit that or not live chat is no longer cool. It is mandatory.

Alex Hallmark (01:00:46):

I feel like that was the case before. COVID. I think the, the thing that COVID changed specifically is delivered to the door of a customer’s house is something you have to factor in no matter what your business model is, whether it’s been a restaurant, you built your whole restaurant because you want it to be on that corner. With this many tables, you have to think about what do I need to do to get to that front door. Even if it’s not my primary business model, just getting to that. So maybe it’s like, I make a special spice with my steaks. I’m going to sell that and make sure it gets to the front door. So they remember me when they’re tired of making their own steaks, you know, something like that. So it’s that I think is where we’re, we’re not going back. Everyone’s going to have to have some type of what am I, what can I bring to their door that I sell or that my services.

Nathan Young, MLO (01:01:34):

Excellent. Excellent. All right. This is it. I’m wrapping up a quick fire questions and then we’ll close out on where people can find you quick fire questions is almost exclusively. Yes. Or no questions. So you’re going to see me be like, Oh, really a lot, but we’re not going to dive in some of these things. I think you’ve already answered, but I’m just going to run down the questions. It’s all the same questions. Every single time, quick answers. Techs, schedule themselves, or use dispatch,

Alex Hallmark (01:02:00): use dispatch.

Nathan Young, MLO (01:02:01):
Job scheduling software you use or recommend?

Alex Hallmark (01:02:07):
N/A. I would need more information to recommend you.

Nathan Young, MLO (01:02:10): Allow customers to leave voicemails?

Alex Hallmark (01:02:12): No.

Nathan Young, MLO (01:02:13):
Do you allow people to submit contact forms? Yes. Do you text your customers? Yes or no? Yes. Do you

collect customer emails? Yes. Do you use those emails?

Alex Hallmark (01:02:25):

Yes and no. Yes. In operational stuff? No, not really in marketing, but that’s what it is. We’re an appliance repair,

Nathan Young, MLO (01:02:32):
A service company. What is the best platform you could spend a dollar on, on marketing right now?

New Speaker (01:02:39):
To accomplish something right now, Google guaranteed would probably be where I’d point most field

companies to go

Nathan Young, MLO (01:02:47):
Older or younger customers, more loyal over time?

Alex Hallmark (01:02:50):
I’m going to guess. Cause I don’t know, younger

Nathan Young, MLO (01:02:53):
Ask every customer for an honest review. Yes or no.

Alex Hallmark (01:02:57): Yes, absolutely.

Nathan Young, MLO (01:02:59):

What is the one thing to remember? And maybe you don’t experience this as much, but it sounds like you did. Um, I heard you sounds like you have a few like, um, multiunit owners, real estate people. Uh, so what’s the number one thing to remember when working the first time for a multi customer owner. So like a general contractor, a multiunit retail, uh, real estate owner. W what would be the one thing you would say you guys you’ve got,

Alex Hallmark (01:03:28):

I remember this. If you treat them like any other customer, it should work. Okay. As long as you’re treating your customers correctly. So I actually, uh, I mean, the thing with multiple is just making sure you’re going to the right place at the right time so that it’s just making sure your communication is on point. Regular customers tend to want to chit chat more than somebody who owns stuff. They’re usually busy. They got stuff to own and to maintain. So the idea behind that is just be, just be as prompt as you are with the regulars. And there’ll be just as happy. There’ll be happier because they’ll appreciate it more.

Nathan Young, MLO (01:03:58):
What are the top three things you wish every customer knew? And I mean, specifically homeowners,

Alex Hallmark (01:04:04):
How to research, how to balance a checkbook and how our economy works. If all three of them, if all

three of those things, we had a decent idea, we probably wouldn’t have to educate as much. Nathan Young, MLO (01:04:13):

What are the top three books that you would recommend for trade service, business leaders, specifically the owners and leaders of these companies.

Alex Hallmark (01:04:23):

I read mostly on the internet now. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but I tend to consume most of my content online. So I would recommend following three people on Twitter that you really like, because those people are going to drop knowledge all the time. I’ll just pick out one that most people could follow, just because he likes it. Anyways, Elon Musk, that guy is so active on Twitter for a billionaire. It kind of blows my mind a little bit, cause I know how busy he is yet, who will comment and post on such random scientific stuff. It’s great because it’s kind of neat to know what he’s doing. So if there’s three people that are on Twitter that you like, I’m on Twitter and I’m sure you are follow them. They tend to, they tend to drop better news than you’ll ever get in a book because it’s unfiltered. It may not be accurate, but it’s unfiltered, authentic. And uh, it’s engaging. And there’s a chance that they’ll talk back to you. And I think that’s way more powerful than a book. Now you may end up liking one of those people then read their book.

Nathan Young, MLO (01:05:20):

Uh, I would say it’s the most interesting answer to that I’ve ever gotten. And also I think probably the most actual following somebody on Twitter is so much easier than reading their book. Who do you think if you don’t mind, who would you nominate to hear from on this podcast next? Who should I go try and say, will you please tell us all, some things,

Alex Hallmark (01:05:39):

Steve Sheinkopf, I don’t know him personally. I’ll send you the contact info. He is the blogging guy, marketing manager at Yale appliance in Boston. They’re like I was mentioning earlier out of all the blogs in our industry. They’re one of the few that I actually actively read. Cause most of it is, you know, it’s just not that valuable, but they share they’ll share what they sold last year percentages and everything like, so you get an idea of like what’s selling one of their recent ones that I really liked. They just did a piece of content. I’m not [inaudible] I want to get the name right. Come on. It can’t be that old, um, top 10 appliances. People are not buying, which I, I went into it kind of like guessing, like which one are they going to be? And I, it wasn’t right on all of them.

Alex Hallmark (01:06:23):

So it’s a well worth the read. So Yale appliance.com. I’ll give them a special shout out. They’ve been extremely helpful with us at Fred service. They’ve been, um, very open and transparent to answering us when we have questions because they are bigger. So then they do self servicing as well. So that’s the other, there’s a couple areas that they don’t gamble in that we, that we are, that we’re not dabbling in. So that’s been very helpful and eye opening for us. So yeah, you should definitely see a feel. I have a very strong hunch, he’ll say yes,

Nathan Young, MLO (01:06:51):

That would be so awesome. Uh, every well, and the amount of like obvious respect for you have only makes me more excited to get a potential conversation last, uh, we’re we’re rolling out. We might have to split this one into two episodes. I don’t know. Um, closing and plugs basically. Like if people want to know more about you, what you do, they want to know more about the Academy, where did they go?

Alex Hallmark (01:07:16):

The best place to go for the Academy is Academy.Fred’sappliance.com. Or you can go to Academy.appliance either to place. We’ll take you to the same location there you can learn about our online classes. You can also learn when we will be bringing back our in-person classes, which we hope to do at the sometime summer of 2021 is where it’s kind of tentative. At this point. You can also find us, uh, fluid services, fluid.services. Um, my calendar is live on there. I’m probably going to regret saying that you can set a special time to talk to me at any time and we can have just the same kind of conversation that you and I are having right now.

Nathan Young, MLO (01:07:51):
I’m just going to schedule myself on there every couple of weeks from now on.

Alex Hallmark (01:07:56):
Oh cool. We can definitely do this again. I’m always down

Nathan Young, MLO (01:07:59):
Awesome. Alex. It has been an incredible conversation. The person who does our production is going to

cry because they’re going to be like, you want me to pull how many clips from that episode?

Alex Hallmark (01:08:09):
It’s content, baby. That’s what Gary V would say. Right?

Nathan Young, MLO (01:08:13):

So, so, uh, so many like things that you said that I was like, well, I gotta have that one. Gotta have that one. Gotta have that one. Gotta teach that one. Gonna to put that in an email that was awesome. Like I’m absolutely dropping golden nuggets everywhere. So

Alex Hallmark (01:08:30):

I appreciate that. I appreciate that you taking the time to do the clips. It’s been on my to-do list to send content out, but I’m, you know, busy like most owners. So I appreciate you guys doing this and taking the time and, and sharing this stuff. It’s two birds with one stone

Nathan Young, MLO (01:08:45):

For me. That’s right. So much fun. And plus, I mean, like it just gives me an excuse to have these hour long conversations with guys like you. All right. I’m gonna shut it down. Thank you so much. Uh, everyone who is listening, um, we’ll catch you next time.

Alex Hallmark

Alex Hallmark

Fred's Appliance Academy

Fred’s Appliance Academy and Fred’s Appliance have been in business since 2008 and 1996 respectively. They are experts in appliances and solving problems for their customers and getting their team trained up quickly.

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