Chris Lalomia Joins Us On The Steve Jobs Inspired Join Up Dots Podcast
Introducing Chris Lalomia
Chris Lalomia joins us on the Steve Jobs inspired Join Up Dots podcast today.
He is is a successful entrepreneur and change leader that has built on his experience working with the largest companies in America to start his own business
He brings his unique style to leadership to build a culture of professionalism to the blue collar world of home renovations.
He left the corporate zoo and ventured into the entrepreneurial wild and started The Trusted Toolbox: Home Repair and Projects in 2008.
YES, he started a business right before the Great Recession, so timing the market is not his strength.
He survived through that time and has grown his business into a multimillion dollar handyman and remodelling company which has won numerous awards in Atlanta, GA.
How The Dots Joined Up For Chris
As he says “Save yourself the time and aggravation of having to do repair work around your home on your own.
You don’t have the time, energy, or patience to do bathroom remodelling, kitchen remodelling, wood rot repair, home repair, deck remodel & installation, painting, window replacement, window repair, bathroom repair, kitchen repair, deck repair, or any of our other handyman services with other small odds and ends type jobs that keep piling up around your home.
It’s a much wiser idea to let our handymen do the work for you.
And its a very wise idea to build an evergreen business, around peoples pain points and limitations first and foremost.
So is he happier now, running his own businesses or does he look back to the turn up and get paid corporate life with fondness?
And what would be the biggest lesson he learnt which he always shares as his “Make sure you don’t do what i did moment” ?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr Chris Lalomia
During the show we discussed such weighty subjects with Chris such as:
Chris shares how he went from the large corporate world and persevered through the dark nights of the soul to make things happen.
We talk openly about the importance of finding mentors and gaining access to mastermind groups.
Chris talks about starting his first business and why he feels that creativity is far more important than hustle.
Why the feeling of scarcity is a mindset shift that has to be overcome if you ever want true success in life.
How To Connect With Chris Lalomia
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy
Full Transcription Of Chris Lalomia
Life shouldn’t be hard life should be a fun filled adventure every day. So now start joining up dots tap into your talents, your skills, your God given gifts and tell your boss, you don’t deserve me. I’m out of here. It’s time for you to smash that alarm clock and start getting the dream business and life you will of course, are dreaming God. Let’s join your host, David Ralph from the back of his garden in the UK, or wherever he might be today with another JAM PACKED episode of the number one hit podcast. Join Up Dots.
David Ralph [0:41]
Hello, good morning to you. Good afternoon. Good evening, whatever time it is in your world. Thank you so much for being here with us on the Join Up Dots podcast. Now today’s show is going to be an interview show. And we’ve got a successful entrepreneur and change leader who has built on his experience working with the largest companies in America to start his own business from scratch. Now he brings his unique style to leadership to build a culture of professionalism to the blue collar world of home renovations. Yes, the DIY market as we say, he left the corporate zoo and ventured into into the entrepreneurial world and started the trusted toolbox Home Repair and projects in 2008. He started a business right before the Great Recession. So timing the market is not his strength but he survived through that time and he’s grown his business into a multimillion dollar handyman and remodelling company which has won numerous awards in Atlanta, Georgia. Now as he says Save yourself the time and aggravation of having to do repair work around your home on your own. You don’t have the time energy or patience to do bathroom remodelling, kitchen remodelling, wood rot repair home repair deck model, it goes on and on. It’s a much wiser idea to let our handyman do the work for you. And it’s a very wise idea to build an evergreen business around people’s pain points and limitations first and foremost. So is he happier now running his own businesses? Or does he look back to the turn up and get paid corporate life with fondness? And what would be the biggest lesson he’s learned which he always shares as these? Make sure you don’t do what I did moment? Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Chris Lalomia.
Chris Lalomia [2:31]
Great, David, glad to be here. This is exciting.
David Ralph [2:33]
Do you notice I said your surname really quickly just to get it out of there. I thought it’s like a brain blister. When somebody tells me even the simplest names you think, what did he say? What did he say? So So tell us again? How do we say it?
Chris Lalomia [2:47]
So it’s Chris Lalomia are gonna call me Chris for short.
David Ralph [2:51]
Yeah, I’m gonna go with Chris. I’ve got it wrong. And I tried my hardest. Right? So let’s jump straight into this. What I love about the trusted toolbox is I teach loads of people how to create online businesses. And one of the things I always say is the kind of non sexy businesses are some of the best that we can get into the ones that you might just say, are, you know, humdrum, have been around for years and years. Plumbers, decorators, fence panel, people, it’s the kind of things now, but as generations move on, we can’t do ourselves. Our granddad’s probably could have done it and our great grandkids but now, it’s hard enough to put up on the upper shelf. Was that something that you was aware of? But actually, these kind of skills are drifting away?
Chris Lalomia [3:39]
Absolutely. That’s exactly where I went. I went to the humdrum world of being a handyman because I realised a lot of my people my age weren’t even gonna do work in their house didn’t even have tools in their house. As one guy put it, I have a, I have a credit card and a hammer. And I call you guys. So we’re here for you.
David Ralph [3:57]
Oh, yeah, he sounds like me, I’ve probably spoken to you myself. Because I what I find as a man, and this is going to be sexist, and I apologise, but as a man in my household, it’s kind of expected, just because I’ve got, I don’t know, dangly bits that I can also use at all. I can use you know, put up shelves. And over the years, I’ve kind of lost my competence with putting things up even simple things where I used to do it years ago, I can’t I can’t be bothered now as your market your your trusted toolbox are focused in on men, or is it ladies getting annoyed with their men for not actually doing it? Is it the men’s pain point or is it the ladies pain point?
Chris Lalomia [4:42]
I like to say we’re ladies man. So yes, we play to the ladies. Because the ladies when we walk in, they’ll say well, he doesn’t know how to do it. And so I let them know in a nice way that we all have different skills and tools and my tools and skills and my company’s tools, the skills will allow you guys to have a little bit more time together.
David Ralph [5:00]
Take you back in time, you’re in a corporate job. And you decided that it wasn’t for you. Now, anybody who listens to Join Up Dots is either moving towards that point in their life, or they might have already taken that leap. I certainly did it when I just thought I can’t do this anymore and sort of leaped now, was it a gradual? Or was it an epiphany, but you saw an opportunity and thought, I’m gonna get this before anybody else does.
Chris Lalomia [5:29]
So it wasn’t the position in the position the the job that we started the trust toolbox that wasn’t the epiphany. I’ve always wanted to run my own business since I was 17. And I found myself in the corporate world, at 35, kind of drunk and intoxicated on the corner office to 400 people, the parking spot, the Mercedes, and I realised I just wasn’t being fulfilled. I was that gorilla in the zoo, as I put in my book from the zoo to the wild. And that was the epiphany. I was like, You know what, I’m just not doing everything I want to do I get it, we’ll figure out something to do. And I did journey off to try to go find the sexy idea that the next.com Boom, the next cool technology, the next rocket into space and try to see if I can’t meet Sir Richard Branson, but I couldn’t. And I realised that all the people I emulated and wanted to be like, around me had humdrum businesses. Tire makers, handyman. They were remodelers. There were awnings above people doing awnings. They weren’t really sexy businesses, but they were doing really well. They were out there in the wild world of small business ownership making that leader and they left and they were running.
David Ralph [6:33]
Was it a run for you? Or was it a leap and a stumble? Was it something that took off straightaway? Because at its core, you think, well, it can’t fail. But a course a lot of businesses that we would say that too, because the owner doesn’t understand the marketing or the positioning of the business. They struggle. It’s a great business, but nobody knows about it. So was yours, a leap and a run or a leap and a limp? How did you get going?
Chris Lalomia [7:02]
Well, I left and the next thing I know here in the US, we have the 2008 recession, and I had started six months before it really took off. And while I say everybody always needs a handyman, you don’t need a handyman if you don’t have a job, because you can’t afford him. So I left I rumbled I bumbled, I stumbled, I scraped my knees. I kept on going, I persevered, I problem solved. I tried to figure things out. I slept on the couch a lot. I didn’t sleep a whole lot. And eventually, 13 years later, here, I am an overnight success.
David Ralph [7:33]
And when you’re dying on that sofa, because I certainly had moments in my, my dark days of the early stage of running bis where it was like, Why did I do it? Why did I leave the job? I could have been there for years. And certainly I think people looked in my direction and thought the same thing. But I could never go back. And a lot of it was ego. But I didn’t want to sort of backtrack. But I just knew in my heart of hearts, I couldn’t go back. So when you were laying on that that sofa, and sort of Jimmy Fallon and finished and it’s getting later and later in the night, how did you keep the dark doubts away from you and keep moving forward?
Chris Lalomia [8:16]
You one thing I learned about myself, David was I got into the business. And I said, you know, I’m a I’m a realist, which really, most people when they say that mean, they’re a pessimist. And I would have said that about myself. What I realised, though, is that I was an optimist. And I would wake up in the morning and say I’m here to solve problems. And by God, I’m going to do it. And that’s the thing that kept me going. But I will tell you, there were some dark and lonely nights, and you’re sitting there the whole time with your gut just turned over going, What have I done to myself and my family.
David Ralph [8:42]
So so how did you get through that? Or did you just swallow it up and deal with it yourself? Because my wife even to this day, she moans but I don’t share when I have issues. And I always say to one of two reasons. One, I am a great believer that if you share an issue, somebody else has got the issue. And the second thing is, even with the greatest respect, people will give you advice, but they don’t know what you’re going through. And I used to find that with my family. They would say why don’t you do this? Why don’t you do that? And in my head, I was thinking, Oh, shut up you you’ve got no idea. And so how did you get through?
Chris Lalomia [9:22]
Yeah, that’s a great point. Well, the first thing I would tell you is with my wife, the question is when did I first start lying to my wife? The second day after I started my business, Hey, how’s your day going? Great. I would say I had a lot of mentors. I pride myself on networking and getting out there and I would share a lot with people. What I learned later on was I’m actually part of a monthly mastermind group. Now that really helps me solve my issues and work through it because you’re right. It’s a lonely time when you’re starting up your business, whether you’re a solopreneur or my case now I have 28 employees. You’re still only at the top you don’t have anybody you can really share with and when you share And you hit start to hear other people’s issues. Isn’t it amazing how easily you can solve somebody else’s issue? Yeah. And then you realise you’re solving your own issue at the same time. So knowing people and getting out there that that was big for me, networking was a big energy source for me in the beginning as well.
David Ralph [10:14]
Now you, you’re in a situation now, where a lot of people have the idea of, you know, creating a business, to give them lifestyle control. But you’re at the stage now that you’ve got employees that rely on you to keep the business going. And when it goes down, if it did go down, heaven forbid, it doesn’t. But if it did, it’s not just you dealing with it, it’s you dealing with 28 other sort of livelihoods as well. Is that something that you grown into? Or from the corporate world? Was that something that you already got the skills for?
Chris Lalomia [10:50]
I felt like I had the skills for that. One of the things I you know, you have to be really very real with yourself is not for what are you good at? What are you not doing, and focus on it, I always felt like leading people and working with people was one of my was one of my strengths. So I’ve never really felt daunted by the fact that I’ve got 28 families to provide for, it actually kind of came naturally, I still my motivation is still keeping the lights on and getting going and get growing. And I still have some of that same angst I had when I first started. I just, I, you know, again, Am I successful, it depends on how you measure it. But right now we’re able to make it happen. But I still feel like that same drivers in me.
David Ralph [11:29]
You said something brilliantly, they’re about I want to do a deep dive into Are you successful, it’s how you define success. And that is one of those things that I think people don’t really think about. It’s it’s very much monetary success. But there’s time success, there’s location success, there’s the ability to just walk away from it, I suppose that still type? Where is your success metric? Is it that you can, you know, go off on vacations whenever you want? Or is it the case for you know, you just like being in control.
Chris Lalomia [12:07]
So I like to control that’s definitely a success factor. And it doesn’t sound sexy. That doesn’t sound like you’re a servant leader. It doesn’t sound like you should be talking to this. finding your why. But I do like to control. I do like having fun with life. And I’ve been able to have some good times, I’ve made some great friends and have some time with them. But I like seeing this business continue to thrive. And that’s the success metric for me. I don’t need the jet. I don’t need the yacht. But I’ve got a pretty good lifestyle now. And and that’s that’s important to me. But more importantly, you hit on it. And again, it’s not something you put out there bulletin board and say I love the control. I love being the man I love being the one where everybody has to count on to make this happen.
David Ralph [12:47]
Because I a very aware of there’s never enough, you know, the majority of people that become a billionaire want to become a trillionaire everybody wants to become a millionaire. Very few people go, I am all right. I’m happy. I’ve got enough to pay the bills, the businesses is thriving without too much stress on me. I just want to keep it at this level. So with yourself, is it about scale that you say you want to keep on growing and thriving? Is it about scale? Is it about the foundations? Where are you heading? Now?
Chris Lalomia [13:26]
That’s a great question. I actually doing kind of that halftime pivot, I’ve been running this business for 13 years, I actually went started another business called the Home Service Institute this year, where we provide training to other home service companies around customer service. So I love the creation of it. This is the thing that’s actually getting me very excited. So I’ve got two businesses one in infancy. And I’m back at the beginning again, back at losing money back at not getting up there and getting going. But I really love the challenge and strive for it. So it’s not necessarily scaling the trusted toolbox. But I do like scaling what I’m doing because I’ve got to be busy, and I love being busy.
David Ralph [14:02]
Let’s talk about finances, okay, when you start a business, you quite often have to invest your own money into it. And ultimately, you want the business to provide enough that you can take your money back and then the business sort of runs on its own. When you say about your back in the early stages of losing money. Is that something that you know, sits comfortably with you now? Or is it something that you put in from one business to another? Or do you put it in from your own finances, Chris?
Chris Lalomia [14:35]
So I use the trust toolbox to fund the Home Service Institute in this case, but I’ll go back to when I first started. And again, I had three levels of funding. I was going to self fund using some bonus money and some savings that I had. My second level was going to be taking out a second mortgage on my home. And the third level was going to be my 401k Because remember, I was in the corporate America world and I had been putting away a lot of money. Now in reality I probably never would have been able to touch that third tranche of money, my wife would have probably left me, and we probably been over. But those first two are big and having the right funding kept me going through those recession years, and having the funding that I got with a trusted toolbox to help me get the Home Service Institute off the ground.
David Ralph [15:16]
Because you do have to have the ability to deal with risk. And there’s no doubt about it. I think entrepreneurship is just simply about calculated risk takers, some people have it, and some people don’t you grow into it. And you certainly do look at it in a certain stage, but some people can invest millions that I haven’t got. And I think, Oh, bloody hell. That’s it. That’s a scary time, but they seem to breathe into it. I’m very much I invest with all the competence in the world. And then I stew about it afterwards. I in vain is something that seems natural to me to do it. But then I kind of worry about the After Effects. What about yourself?
Chris Lalomia [15:59]
Yeah, absolutely. I when you’re putting that money in, and in the beginning, you’re like, you know, you got to do this, you have a plan, you stick to your plan, you stay at the task, because you’ve got to develop those habits day in and day out to grow it, you can’t just sit there and look at oh my gosh, I just put this money in and get locked up and freeze, you’ve got to keep rolling. But at some point, you’ve got to take a checkpoint and look. And that’s the especially this time of year coming into the holiday season. This is my time to do strategic planning for both of my businesses. And that’s where I’ve been taking a hard look at the Home Service Institute and saying, Okay, how do we get this thing going? It’s a really good idea. It’s a million dollar idea. But right now, it’s more like $1,000 idea. So how do you get it going, and that’s where you start getting that creative frustration going. And that drive that keeps me up, again, keeps rolling.
David Ralph [16:42]
Because in the United Kingdom, I often think that there should be a business teaching like evening classes, where they teach people to put a shelf up or hang a flat screen Telly or, or cook. Now it might be out there. But I’ve never seen it out there not in the way that I would want it. So that, you know, the the about six weeks ago, I realised I had a bit of a leak under my sink. So I thought, Oh, I’ll do the plumbing. That’s no problem at all. And I ended up spending nearly $1,000 on an emergency plumber because I separate through the pipe and the water was spurting all around the kitchen. And it was Oh, get it done. Get it done. Those skills, you know, that’s a business in its own, isn’t it? But I don’t see people doing that kind of tuition.
Chris Lalomia [17:30]
Yeah, I, I’m hoping that more and more people will start getting into the trades, the skilled trades coming out of high school and opting out to go into universities that they really love working with their hands. And I’m seeing some trade schools popping up here in the US. And I’m trying to partner with them to provide that customer service piece, which is what we’re doing with our Home Service Institute. So we really don’t train people on how to fix the stuff in house, but we train them on how to do a better have a better customer service experience. Because I do think that more and more people are going to go to the outsourcing model of everything, your house will be outsourced. The cleaning laundry, the home repairs, the the window cleaning, and you’re just going to do we’re more used to having outsourced activities more than we ever did. And you mentioned that early like your granddad would have never used my service. And my dad, my grandfather would have thought I was an idiot if I was trying to sell this service to them. And like that we just do it ourselves.
David Ralph [18:20]
Awful. I was gonna get out of sourcing when I got married. But it didn’t didn’t turn out that way. Chris, it seems a lot of a lot of it has come back to me. Let’s hear from Oprah. And we’ll be back with Chris,
Oprah Winfrey [18:32]
the way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself, what is the next right move? not think about, oh, I got all of this. What is the next right move? And then from that space, make the next right move and the next right move and not to be overwhelmed by it. Because you know, your life is bigger than that one moment. No, you’re not defined by what somebody says is a failure for you. Because failure is just there to point you in a different direction.
David Ralph [19:03]
Now, Oprah is talking about taking one dot after another, having a decision. And a lot of people say to me about business plans. And I’ve never been a great lover of business plans, because I feel they’re they’re hypothetical, futuristic focused, but isn’t like the real life and things are getting thrown at you over time that you could never plan for. And you could never expect as I say starting a business will always take you twice as long and twice as much financially as you expected. When you started, but toolbox. They’re a business plan. Did you have an exit strategy? Or did you just kind of make it up as you went along, Chris?
Chris Lalomia [19:47]
So I did work on my business plan. I’m a big believer in them because of the way I did it. I didn’t go for that a paper and that hypothetical all the way taking me out for 15 to 20 years for exit strategy. I put the exit strategy on what they wanted Do what what I used it is I took this two smarter people than me and people who are in the business already, and had them read my business plan and got down and had no coffee bought lunch, put the business at, let’s just focus on this one section, I get specific questions about this, this and this. And that did save me a lot of headache and money in the beginning. Now that being said,
David Ralph [20:20]
They point out, Chris, when you showed it to them, what did they say? Oh, hang on, I think you need to think about this. Yeah,
Chris Lalomia [20:26]
the biggest one was the marketing piece, you know, how do you think you’re gonna get to them? I’m like, Well, I’ve been doing this studies on this and this, and they’re like, is that really how you think you’re gonna make the phone ring? Right off the bat? I’m like, Yes. And they said, No, the way you’re gonna make that phone ring off the back is you, you’re going to have to get out there ground and pound get in front of other people who can refer you so who are people that are going to refer you as a handyman company, they are real estate agents, they were other contractors. And that was that was genius. And that paid off, it’s a lot of your time. But that sweat equity saved me, at the time print was one of the bigger vehicles and you’d have to invest five to $10,000 a month, in print and commit for six months to a year, I chose not to do it, I actually chose not to even go in the phonebook at the time, and pay that money. And it paid off all because I asked specific questions and people who are really smart.
David Ralph [21:16]
So what you actually did was you looked at the marketplace, and you decided who already got your ideal customer, and then went for them. And that tapping into pools of ready made congregations of ideal customers is something that is so powerful. But once again, it’s something that isn’t sexy. And I would say the majority of people skip over it, they don’t do the work. They don’t think where are my customers already staying? Let’s go to let’s go there.
Chris Lalomia [21:50]
I think that’s another great point is, you know, by asking specific questions of people with your business plan, you get a better business plan. I’m not again, looking for that a paper of hypotheticals, where you keep it to yourself, the one thing I learned coming from the corporate world to the the wild world of entrepreneurship, a lot of people out in the entrepreneur world will share everything with you. I’ve done it with two other handyman that started up after me. They came in they said, Hey, what do you what are you doing? How do your finances look? And I said flipped around my screen and like you want to see here you go. Here’s my QuickBooks, take a look. And they’re like, Wow, I can’t believe you’re sharing. And I said, Because I learned that I should have asked those questions of more people. Because I was afraid because in corporate America, you kind of hold those cards close to your vest or your Invoker.
David Ralph [22:33]
You do. And I have a lot of people with ideas. And I say, Okay, what’s your business idea? And they won’t tell me? They go, Oh, no, no, I want to keep that one to myself. And it’s a scarcity mindset, isn’t it? Because there is, you know, I billion people on the planet, how many do you need to make? They say 1000 customers to make a lovely lifestyle? You know, and I think that’s probably about right. So that scarcity, has to be one of the mindset shifts that you get rid of it? I would say that’s probably in the top three. Chris,
Chris Lalomia [23:06]
I agree with you. That’s a gold nugget for me. I agree. 100% When you’re thinking about this, and you’re not sharing with people, Oh, get real. I mean, you can come and tell me I’m gonna start a handyman business compete with you. I’m like, okay, great. Are you gonna do it? Go ahead. I mean, there’s plenty of competition out there. But my competition isn’t you it’s the homeowner. And when you start sharing those ideas, you start getting back again, if you ask specific good questions, people who are smart in that field and smarter than you, you’re going to get great answers.
David Ralph [23:33]
Yeah, you say you saying, you know, I could go around my town. I don’t know there must be 1011 people doing carwash businesses, you know, and you can literally drive down the same street, and they’re all fall, your have to queue up to go around the car wash, but they’re still making a lovely living. Now, if you think of them actually creating a mastermind of how can we get more cars into this vicinity? How can we work together? But I bet you they don’t. I bet they don’t sort of sit together and, and share sponges and buckets.
Chris Lalomia [24:07]
Now I agree with you, they won’t do that. But if you go to somebody who’s got a carwash business in the neighbouring town and asked him how they do it, and he’d be like, Sure, I’ll share with you whatever you want. You’re not directly competing with me. I, I found that that’s been really good. And that’s why the mastermind group for me, while not other handyman, necessarily. They’re different businesses, but they’re all home services related.
David Ralph [24:28]
So how did you find your mastermind because the old thinking Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill, he is very big on masterminds and finding people to, you know, just sit there and let the ideas flow around you and he does a lot of virtual masterminds when you almost create fantastic individuals from the past and the present to become your, your gurus and your mentors. So how did you actually find the right people?
Chris Lalomia [24:56]
It was a mentor. It was a person who I came to him and I shared My story and I’ll tell you first time he asked me, I was three years into my business. And he was about 10 years ahead of me doing a different business, but still home services. He says, How’s your net profit? I said on 15 to 20%. He goes, Wow. In our business, I have never seen that. I’m usually more like, seven, sometimes three, best service 10%. It’s like, wow, I lied. He goes, Okay, now we’re talking and he became event. And then he came to me and said, You need to take one day a month and go meet with these guys. I said, I’ll have one day a month. He says, you have one day a month, you have to do this. And I went, Okay. And he was right. And two years later, it’s been helping me out a tonne.
David Ralph [25:37]
And when you first did it, did you sit there feeling like I sort of brought stuff, but these people were, you know, so clued up, and they understood everything, and you had nothing to bring to the table? Did you sort of sit there just sort of quietly, waiting for a moment that you might be able to say something,
Chris Lalomia [25:54]
they did a good job of integrating us and we’ve integrated people since then. So they welcomed me in. But you’re right, I was holding back, you know, like, Hey, do you want to share anything? I’m like, No, we’re good. Yeah, no. And then eventually, now, these guys know more about my business. And my wife does
David Ralph [26:09]
it because it’s, I offer total free coaching. And I say, you can come over to the website, you can connect with me. Now I get hundreds of 1000s of people listening every month, and very few people actually take that options option up. And even, you know, all those, the majority of them don’t even turn up anyway. So I put myself in a position I wait for them. And they don’t actually turn up. And I pondered whether it’s, it’s like it’s too real. Somehow, they’re actually taking a step into reality and not sitting there in the wish zone. Do you? Do you know what I mean? Chris is like, by actually speaking to me and connecting with me live, no actually saying, I should be doing this instead of actually thinking about it all the time.
Chris Lalomia [27:00]
I think if you think about especially at professional athletes, you know, obviously for you, football in the UK is big, but we have American football here. How many coaches does your high school quarterback have here in the US? one, maybe two, by the time they’re in the professional leagues, they have six to eight. You know, they have all kinds of coaches and professional people helping them with their diet. So why not use a coach to help you get better at what you want to do? If you want to be a professional in your business?
David Ralph [27:27]
When people connect with me, number one, because you know, you had that idea. You saw it and you realise there was a marketplace for it. And I think in every town, there’s a marketplace for your business, you know, and you don’t just want like a handyman handy, Andy, but people say oh, he’s quite good, you know, you turn up your professional, you’re branded on your website, you show exactly what you can do. And it’s not just the big jobs, it’s the little jobs as well is the things that you just sort of turn up. Now with that. It that grow sort of overnight did. Because a lot of people will try to start a business by throwing a kitchen sink at it by saying, Yes, we can do all these things. And they’re not willing to start with just one thing, and then build up to something else. How did you actually do it.
Chris Lalomia [28:18]
So in the beginning, I did any job that came up in any location that came up for anybody who would have me to get out there and get our name going and to bring in some revenue. Over the years I have refined and we do even less today in terms of offerings than we did in the beginning, especially in the handyman world where it’s a really loosely defined, and it’s not an aggregated business model. There are franchises out there who could do it. But you really got to find your niche, and really niche in and today my niche is going to be in the handyman world. But we’re still always refining it and moving it in. So that was I wish I could say I just did one thing, the only thing I did smart was I stayed away from apartment maintenance contracts. That’s the only thing I could say I did smartly. Everything else I probably screwed up.
David Ralph [29:03]
So if somebody wanted a hand or put on the toilet door, you would go around and you would do a simple jobs as that.
Chris Lalomia [29:12]
Absolutely would have done that in the beginning. Today with our model, people can subscribe and ask for our service online. And then I have the my CSRS who actually can interact with me either online or through the phone. So we figure out if it’s the right fit, and if it’s in the right territory. I mean, I’ve had people call us and they’re three hours away saying can you come work on our house I’m like now at this point that’s too far away.
David Ralph [29:37]
There’s one of the things I looked on your website and I thought I would pay for this is a sort of membership site but teaches me the basics that the kinds of things on my have to do around my house, sort of video base where you don’t actually want to go around and do it yourself. But there’s money in it. And most of these things you can do yourself and it’s always like, things aren’t too hard, as long as you know where to start, and you’ve got the right tools.
Chris Lalomia [30:07]
Yeah, that’s a great point. What you’re talking about is, if I have an educated customer, you’re going to know when to call me and when not to call me. And you’re going to know when to do that. So why not educate them? I think Marcus Sheridan puts it best, you know, if you if they ask you answer, we want educated customers. Because when I come in and say it’s $690, for a handyman for the day, and people don’t blink, they get why we can do things that they can’t do. When people go, Wow, that sounds like a lot of money. I’m like, well, you’re just not educated enough to understand what we do in a service. And you don’t really value what we do.
David Ralph [30:42]
And that’s, that’s a lot of the problem that so many coaching businesses have VAT. People don’t value the 20 years of day after day after day test an error and failure and success. They look at it and think, Ah, I can do that. I can throw up a website, I can throw up this. And it’s not until you get to a point where you actually think to yourself, I think I’ve wasted more money than I’ve got back, I should have just hired somebody in the first place, that the switch goes in your head, you know, I don’t really do anything in my house. Now, I just say I’ll get somebody in where pay them. Because I know that I’m actually losing money. By spending time doing that when I can actually be doing my own business.
Chris Lalomia [31:27]
And that’s the educated consumer, you realise that you’re worth so many hundreds of dollars an hour, whatever that may be. And it’s really probably something you don’t really enjoy doing anyway. So why not hire an expert? To make it easy. I used to say, if you want me to do it, in the beginning, when I was an amateur, if you will, before I started my business, I was Mr. Five trips to the hardware store, because I would always forget something just to finish one simple task, where my guys have been steadily trained, but they’re skilled and they have the tools and they’ve seen it before. And they can knock it out in an hour. And somebody says I can’t believe I just paid you for that hour. And in my case, what I tell people is, yeah, but I just saved you a whole Saturday of trips back and forth to the hardware store.
David Ralph [32:09]
When you are starting on VAT, what what was the annoyances that you wish you could bypass as we said into production? What is the kind of our make sure you don’t do what I did moment that you will share with people time and time again, when dealing with the general public?
Chris Lalomia [32:29]
Oh, that’s a good one. I’ve had so many of them. I actually the one that really hit me as I put this in my book, at one point, I
David Ralph [32:37]
said really excited there, Chris, like, Oh, don’t talk to me about the general public.
Chris Lalomia [32:43]
The general public, and what’s makes the world go round is that we’re all different. But what makes the world go round is we’re all different. And when you have to deal with these folks, I had a rash of what I call reduce. And that’s people call up and say, hey, the service wasn’t performed as I expected. So I shut my business down for two days. And I went out and took care of every review. And there were five of them. And what I realised what had happened at the time was I didn’t have the right process in place to start scaling. And my guys were not delivering the service the way I expected it. But there was also some things that I was screwing up myself, I was the one who estimated the job and told him what to do. And I I flat out told him I didn’t even tell them to do something on the right side of the house, the customer said, Hey, we talked about that. And so why are you not finished. So dealing with the general public, setting an expectation and then meeting and exceeding that expectation is critical. But don’t do what I did and start scaling and start doing everything to anybody anytime you could not have the right processes in place. But I would also say you don’t have to define every single process, you got to go out there and bump and scrape and grind through it. But just keep your keep reminding yourself that you are the problem solver and you are the harbinger of your customer experience.
David Ralph [33:53]
Because the trustee toolbox is very much focused on the general public, but you could easily start the trustee toolbox, mansions or the elite trustee toolbox where you then go off into the next level that people are willing to pay. We see we have restoration on cars, where people will pay a million pounds for something to be restored, where the majority of people will never pay back. No matter how high you go up in a business. There’s still a market that’s willing to pay. And if you tap into that you need less customers. So your life becomes easy, but it’s that mindset again, isn’t it Chris? Is that ability to go? Yes, somebody will pay you back where you kind of get routed in the spot of who’s gonna pay back. It was gonna do that.
Chris Lalomia [34:43]
I agree with you. I think in the beginning. Today we charge $180 For our first hour $84 An hour after that, or 694 Our day rate. When I first started I wasn’t worth that. I didn’t have the right systems and processes in place, and people who use me in the first first yours probably won’t use me today because they think I’m quote unquote, too expensive. And then I was keeping that mindset because I had a really good target market to find, for my people, I’m looking for that busy family of four, where he and she don’t have time, because they’re running the kids around all weekend, they have a little bit more money than time, they don’t have to have the billionaire money, they don’t have to have the Jets, they just have to have a little bit more money than time. And then they are actually more appreciative of us taking care of their house and letting them go off and do the things they’re best at.
David Ralph [35:29]
Because I think what I would do, I would target doctors, and dentists, and all these people that are on good salaries, and really can’t be bothered, I think I would go back. And I’d probably even do old school marketing, go to hospitals and put it under their windscreen wipers, and you know, leaflets and all the old. It’s not all about being online and Facebook ads and Google ads is about blending the two,
Chris Lalomia [35:58]
I think that’s actually gave me a good idea. That’s, so there you go, you’ve dropped a gold nugget for me, I’m taking it away. Today, 40% of our business comes from repeat customers. So what we’ve done a good job of is connecting with our repeat customers through a newsletter, and taking the people that we have, and trying to turn them into raving fans who also will be out there being a town crier saying how great you are. So it is definitely a mix for us. Because all of my vans are wrapped as we run around the metro Atlanta area. There is a digital presence. Of course, you have to have that. But there is I’m still in some print media that do very well.
David Ralph [36:35]
Yeah, I think the old thing about I’ve actually got an offline business, I’ve got a shop. And one thing that I always get the staff to do is give them a business card, you know, and I think it was like 14 pounds for 4000 business cards, you know, it’s nothing, and they put it in their wallet. And sometimes they won’t look at it. And then they pull out their credit card one day and think oh, yeah, I forgot about that. You know, and it just keeps you front and centre all the time and doesn’t cost anything other than saying take a card.
Chris Lalomia [37:06]
Yeah, I we all have business cards. So my handyman have, we have blank business cards, they can write their name on, of course that they can leave that we always have brochures, but the newsletter, that’s that’s a good one for me, because about six or seven years ago, I was telling somebody, Hey, what you need to do is take care of your captive market that people have already used your service, you get to touch them at least once a month. And I went back and looked and I hadn’t done it for eight months. And I’m like, Oh, whoops. So now I’m religious about put a video small one minute video out with a newsletter and giving them ideas about what they can do around the house. Not necessarily Hey, just give me a call. But adding value to their wife. Hey, here’s a really good idea for a man cave or a new bathroom idea or a new kitchen or a new wall.
David Ralph [37:49]
Now, you own because one of the things I advocate is a Google My Business. I imagine you all Yeah, yeah. I’ve clicked on it. And I found the link on there. Okay. Dan was here.
Chris Lalomia [38:01]
It’s been a big push for us. The last year and a half. I unbeknownst to me, I had a new social media guy due to COVID via social media person I had before COVID had to go back and work in his family business. He said, You got to go work with this guy. I’m like, Alright, so I told him like, your job is to get our Facebook page up, get her Instagram count up. He goes, I go, that’s what I want. He goes in the beginning, I want to do this, this and this. And I wasn’t really paying attention. So by happenstance, really by his plan, not me directing him. He got my Google My Business page, which is now seven to one, it’s on my Google My Business page over my own website.
David Ralph [38:38]
And he’s done something wrong on it. I’m going to tell you this because I I’ve done the same and I’ve seen exponential growth is the number one thing that you can do. There’s two things really, okay. Number one is a title. Yours is called the trustee toolbox, which is your business, but what you want to call it is like local handyman or, or something that people will type in what is the key word, and then the trust toolbox. So for example, I’ve got a shop. And the name of the shop is the last bit in the name on Google My Business, I call it car parts van spares and motor accessories, then the name of the shop because that’s not keyword focused. And then the second most important thing is the categories. You’ve got yours as handyman and you can actually do nine different categories, which also works as an Uber powered search request the Google My Business, so it could be plumber, handyman, Electrician, you’ve got nine opportunities on that. So I would say with your profile, it’s great, but that’s the number one thing that I did that exponentially increased the amount of custom that I’ve got, and it makes sense people aren’t typing in the trusty toolbox, but they would type in local plumbers or local carpenters or something You know, play around with the words, and you will see a big boost in your customer.
Chris Lalomia [40:04]
All right, I love it. Thank you know, you’re getting nuggets out there. Everybody’s getting them now and I’m getting them to.
David Ralph [40:10]
Yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s what it’s all about. And I’ll send you a link of my business after this. And you can see how I’ve structured it so that you can play around with the keywords to get the maximum bang, bang for your buck. Right? Okay, so let’s step away from that. And let’s listen to the words of Steve Jobs, he created a whole theme of Join Up Dots,
Steve Jobs [40:30]
horse, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [41:06]
I always asked this but that’s it. Does that trust really sort of naturally come? Or is it something that you’ve got to work out that ability? Just know that? Yeah, okay. But dots will join up.
Chris Lalomia [41:20]
I think that’s something you got to work at. I’ve listened to that before, as well. And I see where he’s going. But I think for me, there’s I’m optimistic. I’m a problem solver. I’ll get after it. So did I trust the dots? I don’t know. I don’t, I wouldn’t say I did. I definitely do
David Ralph [41:39]
trust to the now.
Chris Lalomia [41:40]
I trust them. Now I really do. I wouldn’t say I’m the smartest guy out there. But I definitely am trusting my decision making process. I do have a rule. I never make a big decision on a Monday in my business. So I make decisions after that. But I do think that that I think
David Ralph [41:57]
was the What’s that rule? What’s that rule about?
Chris Lalomia [42:00]
Alright, so in home services on Mondays, people have had all weekend to look at their house. So they have a lot of things they want to get done. Maybe some of the things that we did didn’t go as well. I have my staff who may or may not show up on Mondays after a big weekend. There’s always a lot of stuff to happen. And there’s always a lot of chaos on Mondays. So I made it a rule that I don’t make any big decisions about my business on a Monday.
David Ralph [42:26]
I don’t know if I’m gonna go with that. It’s, it’s okay, it’s your thing, but it’s just blowing my mind. I’m thinking to myself,
Chris Lalomia [42:35]
I’m a little bit more negative on Monday, I’m sitting there, I’m fighting a lot of fires, usually solving a lot of problems, not having that chance to kind of look at the week. I always have a plan to look at the week. But I usually do that on Sunday night to get ready. But Mondays usually come at me. And there’s always a lot of things that pop up and a few too many. And sometimes I may make a rash, big decision. And I don’t want to ever do that. So I won’t decide to buy a van on a Monday. I won’t decide. I won’t decide to necessarily fire anybody on a Monday, but Tuesday morning after I’ve had a night to think about it. And I usually make those decisions on Tuesday through the rest of the week.
David Ralph [43:08]
Wow, wow. Okay, so looking at the dots was there a big.in your life, Chris, when you went, I understand this. Now you did this, this makes sense to me that dots have joined up, I’ve got the competence. This is where I’m heading.
Chris Lalomia [43:21]
It was before I started my business, I had an epiphany moment. And I put that in my book as well about seeing the gorilla in the zoo. And the dots came together where I started to really think about what I was doing. And I felt like I was only using like half of my brain, I wasn’t using my full capacity. And I started looking at my skill sets and really start to look at them. And I had a master’s in mechanical engineering. So I’m pretty good at details and problem solving. I worked at a big consulting firm called Accenture. Then I went and ran a 400 person division at SunTrust. I had a lot of the tools. And I had a lot of the skills and I was like, Okay, it’s all sitting there. Let’s go do something with it. It’s now time let’s go find something.
David Ralph [44:03]
When did it all really go to the point you thought this can’t fail? You know, because I think there’s three stages. There’s one way you get the competence of Yes, I can do this. And then one when you go hang on this is really this is big business. This could go off wherever. But the
Chris Lalomia [44:21]
first time I think it happened. I was 10 years into my business. So that’s 20 2018. I will tell you the next time was the pandemic. Last year on March 9, a guy called and said, Hey, this COVID thing is going to shut us all down. I’m like that you’re crazy. And I march 16 I cut it down to the bone I cut where I had to I lean and mean and we had our best year ever last year and now I’m going to be almost a half a million more than I was last year. And we’re just under 5 million this year in revenue. So it was during the pandemic where even a pandemic couldn’t knock me down. I really start to feel now like okay, Is this really gonna work?
David Ralph [45:01]
Really and stuff? You’ve got the competence, you got the tiger, nothing’s gonna, nothing’s gonna knock you off? Well, this is the part of the show that we’ve been building up to this is the part that we called a sermon on the mic when we send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could speak to the young Chris, what age would you choose? And what advice would you give him a course? Well, we’re going to find out because I’m going to play the theme. And when it fades, it’s your time to talk to each other. This is a B sermon on the mind.
Unknown Speaker [45:35]
We go with the speed of the shop, the centre man on the mind, the same man on.
Chris Lalomia [45:53]
Chris, I’m talking to you know, and I’m double your age. But back when you were 26, you had a chance. You were just recently getting married, you were going out and you’re going to go into the engineering world, and you got sucked into it. And you went into the world and you started making money. And it was the first time you ever had any money in your life. And you said to yourself before, then you didn’t need to have money, you just needed to start your own business. And you kind of got off track for a while I got you got stuck into that lotus flower of going in there and getting intoxicated with the trappings of the designer suits and the fine cars and having a second home and getting into the country club community. And that was not really you next time. If you’re thinking about this again, don’t go for that go for what you know is going to be good. And I think at the end of the day, you would have been happier earlier in your life. Because right now I’m just happiest I’ve ever been.
David Ralph [46:46]
Oh, yeah, coming online. Okay. I was I was hanging on every word you were saying there, Chris. So what’s the number one best way that our audience can connect with you?
Chris Lalomia [46:56]
Yeah, you can connect with me. Of course, we’ve been talking about the trusted toolbox calm. But my email address is Chris at the trusted toolbox calm. I’m also on Instagram and Facebook at Chris Lala Mia all one word. And you can connect with me there love to connect with anybody. And my offer is anybody who reaches out to me, I’d be happy to give them 15 to 30 minutes and talk with them about all the mistakes I’ve made. And if I can help in any way I will.
David Ralph [47:22]
Radiant, that’s so generous, tight tight Chris up on it, because he’s been on a journey. We’ve all been on a journey, as I say in the show, we’re willing to share is up to you guys to to go from point into the real world. And Chris has given that to you. Well, Chris, thank you so much for spending time with us today, joining up those dots. And of course, please come back again when you’ve got more dots to join up. Because I do believe that by joining up those dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Chris, thank you so much,
Chris Lalomia [47:51]
David, I really enjoyed it. Thanks for having me.
David Ralph [47:55]
So have a trusted toolbox. So every town needs things done in houses and every town is full of husbands that can’t be bothered, and women are moaning because the husbands can’t be bothered is a non sexy business that is profitable. He turns over 5 million this year, you can do exactly the same. If you’re good at tools. Yeah, you got to start somewhere. But get your client base and then get somebody else. Make sure that they’re operating on the same standard as you and you know, hire a husband kind of thing and you will be up and running I think is a really good business idea. And it’s something that you can all do. Until next time, my friends. You look after yourselves, you stay sexy, and I’ll see you again. Cheers. See ya. Bye bye. DESE
Yad Join Up Dots. You heard the conversation. Now it’s time for you to start taking massive action. Create your life is he only Eli we’ll be back again real soon. Join Up Dots join the gods. Gods, the gods Jolina Join Up Dots