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    A Podcast | Josh Huite

    Pete Neubig: [00:00:04] All right. Welcome back everybody. And as promised I got Josh Huite here with he I met him through uh, through Steve Rosenberg. And he runs an incredible podcast called The Tradesman Experience. And so Josh, thanks so much for being here today.

    Josh Huite: [00:00:21] Pete. Thanks for having me. Good to see you again.

    Pete Neubig: [00:00:24] So I gave kind of a little, uh, a little intro before we got on, but just tell us a little bit about your journey with your HVAC company and just kind of give us kind of like a two minute, like, you know, this is what I did, and and this is what I'm doing now.

    Josh Huite: [00:00:40] Yeah. So I got into the HVAC industry in 2001, worked my way up through the ranks, started as a an apprentice through the vocational school, into a maintenance technician, into a service technician, into a service manager. And that evolved into me going into partners and starting a business in 2013. And I exited that business in 2018. But those five years as a business owner and you know, you know what it's like going out into the market every day and trying to stand out. And what I learned, Pete, was a couple things. One was the the necessity and extreme value of of high level leadership. And two, I rewrote my golden rule of business. It to be. People don't remember what you did. They remember how you made them feel. And with our HVAC company, we embodied those two things. I embodied the the leadership development and growth as an individual. But it was so ingrained and embedded into our culture that we were going to create the best experience. It's not an accident that the name of my company now is The Tradesman Experience. That's how much I believe in this concept. And through that five, five year span, actually in a three year span, we did a purchase of assets. We bought out a one man shop. Which a lot of, uh, a lot of the small businesses and the skilled trades are one man warriors.

    Pete Neubig: [00:02:14] We call them. We call them Chuck in the truck.

    Josh Huite: [00:02:17] Chuck In the truck. And that's exactly what we bought. We bought a little building that hadn't been cleaned out in 50 years. It had a little van that had almost 300,000 miles on it. We bought this business. That was doing about 300,000 a year in revenue, and in three years we were doing almost 2.5 million. And and we did that. And I don't want to take away from the fact that it was just revenue growth. We did that in the backbone of our growth was culture and leadership.

    Pete Neubig: [00:02:51] So I think it's amazing that you literally started, as we'll call it, a grunt. Right? You worked in it's kind of like, uh, some of our property managers that are listening. You know, you start off as a property manager, maybe work for another company. And you did all that. We call them all the hats or all the hats in the industry. And then eventually you end up buying the property management company that you work for, uh, or you start your own. And our 2024, uh, president right now of NARPM is Melissa Sharon and Melissa literally did that. She did what you did. And she bought the company she was working for. So she spun off a little bit different. You started, you know, you worked and you bought a company. She did that. So this is a spirit that's inside of NARPM. So the reason why I wanted to get you on, though, Josh, is I want to talk a little bit about like for from a property management, uh, you know, perspective and talk to you about like, the trades perspective. And so with property managers, uh, property management firms, we're only as good as our vendors, right? So if we have a bad contract or a bad vendor, and then that and then that looks bad upon, you know, our owner or our, uh, resident client, then all of a sudden, the negative review goes to us, the lawsuit goes to us, it becomes really, really difficult. And so it's important that we have a good Rolodex of contractors. So the first question I'm going to ask you is you are on the other side. Um, if I'm looking for a contractor, what is it like? Are there tells? Can I tell if there's going to be a good contractor versus a bad contractor to work with? Is there anything that would tell me like, this is a kind of a red flag?

    Josh Huite: [00:04:31] Yeah. One for me. I, one of the things I look at is immediately is, uh, visual representation if you've got the chuck in the truck. And I always joked about this specific guy because I was sitting at a stoplight one day next to this individual. Don't know the guy, don't know the name of the company. Uh, but this guy's got a beat up van with what I took to be some kind of motorcycle gang, chopper emblem as part of his company logo. And he's in a sawed-off t-shirt, no sleeves, you know, full handlebar mustache, and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, sitting at the stoplight. Well, to me that is a complete picture of what you represent. And if I'm looking to do business with someone, I want to know what they look like. I think that's going to give me a fair representation of how they're willing to behave because I, you know, people will often rise to the standard, but they always fall to their habit. And so if we have an interview and you kill it, okay, well, you rose to the standard, but I can look at again how you represent yourself, how you present your brand. How you are in public, how your team is in public because your team is a direct representation of you. And I'm going to start looking for some of those telltale signs of professionalism. Um, as a as a first indicator for me to see if I want to have a conversation or not.

    Pete Neubig: [00:06:12] You know, you hit on something you said during the interview, and I bet you there's people listening here that have never interviewed their contractor. The contractor either called them or they needed somebody. They made the phone call. They were they were desperate and they just they just said, yep, I need you to go out there. And now, you know, you become my contractor. So I think the first thing that I would tell people is find contractors when you don't need them. Right? Like, definitely the worst time to find an HVAC guy is probably July in Houston, when you have ten ACs going out and you need an AC guy. Yeah. So that's the first thing. The second thing is, right, interviewing them is is intelligent. Now I will tell you this. When I first started my business, when I saw the chuck in the truck took out the handlebar mustaches and the cigarette. You know what that told me? Honestly. And I hate to say this, but it told me it's going to be cheap. Yeah, his his pricing is going to be affordable. Right. And, uh, and if I see someone who's polished with the nice Ford 350. Mhm. They got the logo shirt and uh, and they're all polished and uh, maybe they even have manicured hands. Uh, I'm already thinking that I can't afford that guy. So let's talk about cheaper is not always cheaper. And you talk. You know what I'm saying? You know what. Have you heard? You've heard that term? I'm sure. So tell me. Tell me what? What you know, as from a contractor perspective. What happens and why is it cheaper? Not always cheaper.

    Josh Huite: [00:07:34] Well, there's a couple of things real quick. One is, um, cheap labor isn't skilled, and skilled labor isn't cheap.

    Pete Neubig: [00:07:40] I love that. Say that again.

    Josh Huite: [00:07:43] Cheap labor isn't skilled, and skilled labor isn't cheap. So from a contractor perspective, if I'm looking at equipping my company with qualified professionals, I'm not buying cheap labor. I'm, I'm I'm acquiring skilled people. And then from a sales perspective, it's always, do you want it done right or do you want it done cheap? And, you know, so there's that always that kind of dichotomy. And you use the word affordable and I like that. Use the word affordable, because one of the things that I really try to be an advocate for is companies being in a position where they can afford to take risk. A lot of companies, especially chuck in a truck or small organizations don't play the volumes game because they just can't. They they don't have the capacity for it. So it is the money's game if you're going to be profitable. When I start having a conversation with property managers and by the way, I worked with a couple that had hundreds and hundreds of doors in a college town. Um, it was about an interview. It was about an initial conversation. So we had the chance to set clear expectations. And that expectation also came down to money. And, uh, uh, Peter may be jumping ahead, but you know that. Give me an opportunity for both of us to negotiate an agreement that involved pricing, that maybe they were going to get a little bit of a what I what would be considered a discount because of the volume. Um.

    Pete Neubig: [00:09:20] Well, I'll stop there because. Yeah. Go ahead. I've worked with tons of companies when I own my property management firm, and I could never get a pricing manual. I can't get one. Um, so I know HVAC is probably a little bit easier to do than some, like a general contractor, and I get that. But man, it would be nice to just have, you know, here are the top 40 things, 20 things. And this is kind of the pricing. And then here's your discounted price because you're going to give me volume. Uh why why can't people why can't contractors create those. Is there a reason for that or is it just that they're.

    Josh Huite: [00:09:53] Yeah. Oh, I love that question. Um, because the mistake that a lot of contractors make is they try to sell labor. Okay. And anybody that's listening if in a, in a service industry. Okay. And even your, uh, the property managers that are listening, this is another indicator that I would look at find contractors that that price on flat rate, not hourly. Because that is a such a better negotiating tool for both parties. So I say that to bring it back. To answer your question, is most of these contractors a they, they, they, their, their hourly rate probably isn't high enough anyway. So they don't have the internal value to negotiate price at all. And and secondly, and sadly, most of them don't know if their price is right. So how can they negotiate a dollar figure if they don't know if if it's where it should be? So the property manager gets property managers get stuck in this situation because most of us blue collar don't understand business and we don't understand operating expenses and we don't understand numbers. And because of that, we hide behind this fear of talking money.

    Pete Neubig: [00:11:14] Interesting. So basically they go back to what they know and they just know hourly rate. And then they just put an hourly rate out there instead of saying, okay, well if it's these if it's these issues then it's the fixed rate of x. Now I know when we do you know honey do's right. Resident calls got 4 or 5 different things. I need a weather strip here. I need this here. It's almost impossible to say. Well, this is $14 and this is $28. And so I get it that they're going to have to have some type of hourly rate or a trip rate. Right. Which does the first hour and a half, I get that. But man, it would be nice to say, you know, these are the the top ten x things that I see. And then here's the pricing. Right. And then if you're if you're owner call me directly. He would get higher pricing. Right. Because I want to be able to get lower pricing for for the volume that I'm, that I'm going to send you. Mhm. And you said something else as well about the skilled labor. And you know I always said, you know we're always looking for three things. We're looking for uh cheap fast and, and good. Right. And if you can get two out of three man you're, you're doing a great job right. Cheap, fast and good. Uh, so if I get cheap and fast. Yeah. I'm not going to be good. If I get cheap and good, it's not going to be fast. Right. Um, and I have seen personally. And tell me if you've seen this on your side. I had a plumber, uh, endurance plumbing. And the guy was incredible guy. He's the nicest guy. And, uh, somehow I found him, and he was doing a good work for us. And so I'm like, hey man, do you want to grow your business? And of course everybody says, yes, I want to grow the business. Right. And I introduced them to the Houston chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers. And all these guys started using him because he was cheap, fast and good. Well, what happened was he wasn't really good at invoicing. So he was real cheap, right? But then he would send invoices like in December for stuff that he did in January, stuff that we don't even manage anymore. But long story short, um, he grew to the to the point where he outgrew his business and he actually lost a business. So this kind of goes back to a lot of these guys are not business owners. Right. And it also goes back to, you know, you find somebody and if they're not running their business like a business then um, they may they're not going to they're going to they're not going to be great partners over the long haul because either they're going to they're going to shoot their pricing up because they, you know, or they're going to go not do a job for you because there's they could go make another more money at a different job. Right. And so they're not good partners. So. We're looking for people that are not the cheapest out there. We're looking for people that are not the most expensive. Right. I'm not going to call, you know, Roto-Rooter, right. But I'm not going to call Chuck and a truck. I need to call somebody kind of in the middle. Uh, do you find that most contractors try to work in the middle, or, like, how do they how do you see most of your clients? How do they do their pricing and how do they try to, you know, are they trying to be the Cadillac? They're trying to be the Yugo. They're trying to be something between the Buick. What are they trying to become?

    Josh Huite: [00:14:11] And myself included. The middle of the road. And a little bit better. And the way I explain that is what is standard market value for what you do. Find a good place that you're comfortable. And then we're going to charge a little bit more because it goes back to the experience. Even, you know, us working with property managers and and you said partnership. And I'm glad you said it because you beat me to it. You said partnership. When we have those initial interviews, those initial conversations I'm going to approach it. Have that conversation with that property manager as if we were partners, not as if I'm your subcontractor, not as if I'm your vendor. And I think that's a mistake that a lot of the the skilled trades make is they go in assuming that they're going to be treated like a subcontractor, or they go in acting like a subcontractor there, which results in them being treated like one. We're going to have a conversation as if we're partners because we need each other. We're going to identify what those expectations are, and price is going to be one of them. If you know working with a property manager, you may. Chances are you're not going to be able to go. In my case, fix an air conditioner, fill out an invoice and collect immediately. But what are our net term agreement? What is it? Is it 15 days? Is it 30 days? We need to be able to negotiate that. And we need to be able to have that conversation up front. So me as a as a contractor, I don't continue to get frustrated with you about things that I have not been willing to discuss because I because I'm thinking like a repairman. I'm not thinking like a business owner.

    Pete Neubig: [00:15:55] That's a great I love that I'm thinking like a repairman instead of a business owner. Um, it's a huge, different mentality. So if I see somebody and they're not willing to talk about the rules of the game, that's, um, or not or just setting up real poor expectations, those are red flags on if that's a that's somebody I want to do business with or not. Um, you know, when I, when I had my management firm, I, I created a vendor agreement document and we went over the rules of the game because it's not just about pricing, right. It's about, you know, um, it's about me paying you, uh, on time as well. But it's also how do you treat my residents, right? Are you going to use my software or not? How are you going to send in your invoices like, don't don't drop, don't come to my office and drop them off. I want them through electronic. Right. And so if these guys can't use electronic ways to communicate with you, right, I want I want to send all my maintenance requests, you know, electronically. And so those are other, you know, if they're willing. And so by having a vendor agreement one is it's it kind of goes to your point. It it kind of forces you to have these conversations. Right number one. And it sets the expectations. I call it the rules of the game. It sets the rules of the game up. And if if I have a vendor who is unwilling to sign the agreement, then we just don't do business with them. Mhm. Do you see um, what would be some red flags on the property for the vendor side of things to the property manager. Like, like why would a vendor not want to work with a property manager. I think of two off the top of my head. But I want to see if what you come up with.

    Josh Huite: [00:17:37] Um, yeah. So I, I experienced this as well, being a contractor, and we ended up doing some work for some guy one I, I think you just got to trust your intuition. And everybody has a different level or different meter for intuition. But I think one is listen to your gut. And I had a bad gut feeling about this guy my partner was looking at. What he was offering, which is going to be my second piece of this, and we ended up taking it on the chin, and it took us months and months and months and months to get paid. It was a battle. Um, it it got as ugly, not as ugly as it could. And we ended up leaving that relationship with a sour taste.

    Pete Neubig: [00:18:19] And probably and probably lost money on it.

    Josh Huite: [00:18:22] We did, just because of the time we had to spend trying to get our money. And, you know, the just the headache of it. But another is what is the you know, if I'm talking to a property manager.All right.It does. The property manager keep throwing me stuff that is is going to happen or might happen, or are they dangling the carrot or are we having a real time end time conversation? I think for me that's a big oh, man, I got, you know, I got 500 properties and I'm looking at buying a couple hundred and all my, you know, my buddy Pete, he's got, you know, he's 3 or 400 properties. I can introduce you to him. Like that's a red flag to me. I, I'm interested in what we what are we talking about now? What problem are we trying to solve right now? We decide that we can work together. Then we can have that conversation. So that to me, that's a that's a thing that I've experienced in the past. I don't like a carrot being dangled in front of you.

    Pete Neubig: [00:19:16] Hit on you hit on a two points. I'll, I'll just go a little bit deeper on one of them. Um, payment. When, when do they get paid? You know, net 30 to me is even too long. And I know some property managers are probably groaning right now, but at Empire we actually had if you put your, uh, your invoice in before Tuesday at 4:00, you got paid on Friday. Now. Now talk about getting paid quickly. Right. And if it came in Wednesday, you got paid the next Friday. Right. So we started paying weekly. And if you were running a property management firm and you cannot pay weekly, most likely you're in chaos mode or you're not holding back money from the owner, you don't have enough reserve and all that stuff. And and so we would actually front money if the property was leased up and the the resident was a good paying resident, then Empire would front the money and we would get the money back when the resident paid, paid the rent. So most property managers want net 30 because they want that rent to come in before they can pay, especially if it's over the threshold. So we hold back some money from, from the from the owner. The owner has a reserve. And typically if it's underneath that reserve you get paid rather quickly. But we paid we paid weekly. So that's the first one right. So now think about this. If my HVAC guy was getting paid every week and he puts stuff in on Tuesday and he got paid on Friday, and all of a sudden there's a there's a huge heat wave in Houston. And three property managers call him. I'm one of them. Where is he going first? Where he gets paid. The other guys the other guys pay him net 30, right? I'm paying them net, you know, call it eight seven, whatever it is. Right. So I think that's the first thing. So if you're listening to this, you know guys that guys don't want to front your money for you. Just like you don't want to front our owners money. So you got to get paid. The second thing you touched on that I thought, uh, I wrote here quotes, right? Like, you don't want to be jerked around going out and putting out all these quotes and never get in the business. It's a complete waste of time, right? How many are you going to do? Uh, Josh, before you decide not to take that phone call anymore. Three?

    Josh Huite: [00:21:21] For me. Three would be pushing it. Right. Uh, you know. Yeah. To to like, we'll do one and I'm going to give you a second and like I said, three for me. Like that's a stretch.

    Pete Neubig: [00:21:32] So again, you know, just like, um, we have a lot of windshield time. Could you imagine the windshield time for the trades? Guys like going out there. I mean, how many times do you have to go out to a property just to, like, sometimes you have to go to a property to assess it. Then you have to go to Home Depot to buy some stuff. Then you have to go back out to the property, then back out to Home Depot. Right?

    Josh Huite: [00:21:53] Yep, yep. Yeah. You know, logistics is a big deal. Um, as well. And this as you're talking about, one of the things that frustrated me, not as a business owner, but as a service technician, when the property management would call us on a Friday afternoon at 3 or 4:00 and they would start the conversation like this emergency. Yeah. Hey, Pete, man, we, you know, we've got this going on. We need you out here. And then you start talking to them a little bit and they say, well, it started acting up on Tuesday. Uh, but the tenant said that it seemed to be okay and we weren't sure. And now now you've got a Friday night call. And I know there's a whole lot of variables that come into play with that, including the tenant. But from a service tech perspective, it's just like, look, if there is a problem, call us. That's what we're there for. Don't don't stack them up to the weekend because we're like everybody else, you know, we like to go home at the end of a Friday, you know, and, and, uh, enjoy our family. So that was, that was something that we, uh, it was it was so consistent. It was it was comical, but.

    Pete Neubig: [00:23:03] I can't say management industry. We laugh. We like. All right. It's Friday for 4:00. Let's see who calls in with the AC. Yeah. Issue. It was comical because that happened to us all the time. Yeah. Now one of the challenges that we have as a property management company is, you know, we have a reserve amount and we can't we can we have approval up to that amount. Okay. So let's just, you know, for, for just for example, let's call it 500 bucks. Okay. Now I made the mistake early on of telling my vendors that they have an approval up to 500 bucks. Guess what every invoice came back at. 

    Josh Huite: [00:23:42] $499 

    Pete Neubig: [00:23:45] 100%, $499. Yep. And then they would tell me, well, it's really more than 500, but I just wanted to get the job done. How how would you like now, obviously the vendor didn't do anything wrong. The contract did anything wrong. But it doesn't look right. It just doesn't look right when everything's 499. Um, so how would you how if you were on in our shoes, how would you combat that?

    Josh Huite: [00:24:10] If if I Were the property manager. Um, I think that there needs to be.Uh, multiple Meetings a year. You know, we talked about the interview. First of all, I think that depending on growth or the calendar, that there needs to be at least one of those interviews a year. Um, you know, if it's consistency, great. What's what's 2024 look like? We need to have that conversation. I need to know, you know, not all the details, but if you're looking at at acquiring another hundred doors, 200 doors, is that something that I can handle as a company or am I going to end up, you know, disappointing you? The growth side of that is if if our relationship's working well and we're growing, then okay, let's revisit our agreement and go from there. But, you know, I kind of look at those as big picture conversations. Operationally, you need to be having some conversations with your vendors a few times a year, you know, quarterly if you can handle it, and to be able to address those situations. If it's an emergency or it's urgent, you need to address it on hand. But if you see a pattern that needs you need to have just have a conversation. And the reason I that I started that response, Pete, with the agreement, because if that happens to me and I'm working with someone, the first thing I'm going to do is say, Pete, there's some things that I'm seeing that I feel don't align with the agreement that you and I have made. So we need to sit down and revisit our agreement and see if there are things that we need to change, things that we need to approve and decide how you and I want to work forward moving together.

    Pete Neubig: [00:25:49] I like that. Um. I like the fact that you have multiple conversations. I never actually thought that we would, um, we would have a, um, a vendor appreciation once a year and we'd have everybody come over. It'd be usually around Thanksgiving, not Christmas. Like, you know, we'd have, you know, big meal and we would, you know, free food, free booze brings a lot of people to your office. Yeah, yeah. And then we'd have those conversations. But I never, you know, we'd have some conversation. But I like, kind of like a reset, like, review the vendor agreement yearly. Right. So now whenever your vendors have signs that vendor agreement, now you're not doing them all at one time. Right? So throughout the year you might be having different conversations with different vendors. And that could be a reset. Uh, quarterly might be a little much, but I think that's a great idea. I think that's a great idea. Um, and, you know, look, at the end of the day, when, when you guys are putting in 499, you know, you think you're doing us a solid. But what actually happens is our owner clients reach out and say, well, that's kind of interesting that these are all 499 and the threshold is 500. And they think we're being taken advantage of. And so, um, so it's, it's it's really paramount that they write down like all the stuff that they do. So I'm kind of diving into a left turn here. Why do why do a lot of vendors, contractors only put like a number on a piece of paper and send it to you as, as a, uh, uh, as an invoice versus like a breaking it all down and say, here, here's the invoice. Mhm.

    Josh Huite: [00:27:23] Uh, because we love tools and hate paperwork. I mean, uh, that's that's the simple truth of it, Pete, is there's not a single one of us that are born blue collar or work in the skilled trades because we like administrative work. It is. I mean, it's like sandpaper on the skin for us no matter what we do. The problem. The real problem lies in the fact that. These business owners again, don't they don't. It's not even that they don't understand what it takes to own a business. They don't investigate what's necessary to be a successful business owner, and they don't investigate systematic ways to improve their efficiency, to increase transfer of information, to maximize communication. So they just think that okay, well, all the all they're looking for is a number anyway. And I, I it drives me nuts when I hear contractors say that. Oh they're just looking for a number. No, they're looking to have their problem solved. And they want you to communicate as to how you're going to solve that problem and then what that investment is going to take. Right. But again, we're talking about. You know, blue collar. They don't. They know what they can do. But in my entire training vocational school, everything. No one ever taught me how to communicate with a client as to why something cost what it cost. The simple transaction in the in a transaction is not an experience, a transaction is. This is what you said you wanted. This is how much it cost. Do you want me to do it? Yes or no? And so a lot of these businesses treat their clients, property owners, property management companies being their client, they treat everybody as a transaction and they treat everybody the same. So to really, really to to bring that all all the way back Pete, it's because most of these business owners. Aren't business owners.

    Pete Neubig: [00:29:31] Yeah. Now. And during your, uh, initial interview with the contractor, it might be good to see. Give me an example of a couple of quotes, or give me an example of a couple of, um, you know, invoices that you send out, right, to talk, you know, and I go back to the whole cheaper is and cheaper thing and cheaper can be more expensive, you know, for for the companies that embrace the technology, the companies that break down the quote, they they can fire off the quote as soon as they leave the house. They can fire off the invoice as soon as they complete the job that they're willing to take before and after photos. Like as as property managers, we we need that stuff because that becomes our proof to our clients that, you know, the work has been done and this is, you know, and all this good stuff. And then I need people to use our software because we communicate back and forth. And that's that keeps all that data. I got a hold information for four years. You go do a job at a property, especially an HVAC guy. Um, that person has four years to sue me. Yeah, right. Um, and so we got to keep all that stuff. So. So there's certain things. So if you're listening to this as a property manager and you're dealing with Chuck in the truck and he's he doesn't have the software unwilling to do it doesn't doesn't do line item quotes, doesn't get you your invoices in a timely fashion.

    Pete Neubig: [00:30:47] Money does get him to he wants to get paid the next day, even though the invoice he should have put out there, you know, 30 days ago. But now he's now he's got alimony bill, he's got to pay, and he needs his invoices paid. Right. These are all things that and I know this is what you coach and you're training. You're training these guys to kind of be that that uh, middle or above. Right. Which is a sweet spot. And I think it's a sweet spot for property managers. Like, yeah. Do I always need one cheap guy because I have these cheap owners that like, whatever, they don't care. They just want the job done the cheapest and use the cheapest stuff. Uh, we probably need one guy on, on the, on the, on the Rolodex for that, you know. But we need guys that can will operate within our, you know, within within our rules of, of the game, so to speak. And we're willing to, you know, we are willing to pay more. Or if you're listening to this, you should be willing to pay more for that for sure.

    Josh Huite: [00:31:36] Well, to tell you the truth, Pete, I want you to have somebody like that in your Rolodex. I want you to have the cheap guy because they're going to do the jobs that I don't want.

    Pete Neubig: [00:31:48] Got it.

    Josh Huite: [00:31:48] And? And I'm okay with that. If you got time, I'll tell you a quick story that I find to be comical is, um, when we took over the HVAC building, which was a small building, um, we we wanted it repainted, so. This. Chuck in a truck come up and wanted to paint the building, and, um, it was it was so ridiculous. It was embarrassing. He's like, I'll paint the whole building for $600 and you buy the paint, which was a ridiculously low price. I mean, it should have been ten times that. Um, so. Okay, great. Like, I'm not going to tell you how to run your business and did a phenomenal job. I mean, this the building was painted perfectly. I'm in the office. One day he comes in, he says, hey, man. He says, do you want me to to paint that overhang in the back? So in the back, in our next to our loading door, um, was a big overhang. And, um, he said, hey, I can paint that for you. I said, ah, I said, all right, what are you thinking? And he goes. I can do it for $60.

    Josh Huite: [00:32:55] And I was just like, I think, I think you got the job, you know, and and I and I walked away. And the guy has he, he barely owns a job he works for. He just works for money, works for cash. But my my point to that is. Nobody else wanted to do that job, right?

    Pete Neubig: [00:33:17] Let me ask you this. Was that guy around long term?

    Josh Huite: [00:33:19] Oh, yeah. He he was he was one of the he was one of those, um, old guys in a pickup truck that's lived in the town forever and was just known for doing handyman stuff and stuff.

    Pete Neubig: [00:33:30] And he didn't know his value. Didn't worth.

    Pete Neubig: [00:33:34] Because he never hired you as a coach. Well, you weren't coach at the time, but if he had hired a coach, he would have been able to to at least double or triple his prices.

    Josh Huite: [00:33:42] Absolutely.

    Pete Neubig: [00:33:43] But he's not the guy that's going to give you the line item bid. He's not the guy that's going to take your photos. He's not the guy that's insured. Right. So let's talk about that. Right. Um, are most of these contractors, uh, I know the Chuck in the truck guys, but are not, but most people. And are they insured? They have the right insurance.

    Josh Huite: [00:34:01] Yeah. So okay back to you know, us having a, you know, working as a partner. If you and I have a conversation either with the first proposal or just as an initial email after our conversation, you know, I'm going to send you an email and that attachment is going to have our state licensing, our city licensing. It's going to have a copy of an updated copy of our general liability, our certificate of insurance. Um, it's going to have any state certifications, requirements. I'm going to send you that in a digital package. And go, hey, here's all the things that I know you're going to need if we decide to do business together. And that's something I teach my clients to do. I say, look, you want to get ahead of this? You you want to jump it in the front of the line. This is something that you can do.

    Pete Neubig: [00:34:53] I'll give you a quick story. Uh, I had these roofers. Luckilly. Um, I did not hire Chuck in the truck, and I hired the guy a little bit, you know, like you said, like a little bit above the middle. Um, they were putting in a new roof, and evidently one of their nails in the ceiling, uh, you know, in the attic. Hit a waterline. We don't catch it for hours. The whole apartment is flooded out. Now I have to call, you know, the the the water remediation guys and all of that was on his insurance because he was insured. If he wasn't insured, guess who would have to deal with that? Yep, it would be. It'd be me and potentially my insurance. Or if my insurance didn't cover it because I don't have the right insurance. Now, um, I have to do all that stuff out of pocket. So the importance of getting guys who are going to be insured. Is paramount. It really is. Um, uh, especially if they're going to go into occupied properties. Right? What's. I mean, you want somebody who's insured, you want somebody, you want a company who, like, I'm not going to run background checks on the on the the contractor company, but I'm assuming they're running background checks on the people that they put out to the houses. Right? The last thing you want is somebody attacking one of your, you know, residents. Who does that come back to? If the if it's a chuck in a truck and he's not insured, guess who. Guess who has to deal with all that stuff.

    Josh Huite: [00:36:24] You know. Several things that we've talked about and discussed, Pete, like the 499 invoices, the the background check, how the technician treats the, the tenant, all of these things. When I look at all of those aspects of of our business relationship, you know, if I were the subcontractor or the, you know, the vendor, to me, every bit of that is a reflection of the leadership of the of of the business, of the contractor, of the HVAC company. If you've got a technician that's charging, that's just throwing 499 on an invoice, consistently leadership's aware of that. And if leadership's approving it, that's a that's a problem. Right. If you're if you're sending someone into someone's home regardless if it's an apartment building or whatever, but into their home, that is a potential threat. That's a leadership problem. You don't know how to run a business, you don't know how to hire and you don't know how to lead. So a lot of these problems that you're talking about, I when I look at it through my lens, that's an internal issue. That's a leadership problem with that company.

    Pete Neubig: [00:37:29] That makes complete sense. I can talk to you all day, buddy. I got, like, ten other things I'd love to get to. Maybe we'll get you on the show, uh, another time. But we're going to take a quick break, and we're gonna come back, and we're gonna hit you with the lightning round. All right, get ready for the lightning round. We'll be right back after this. After these messages, guys. 

    Pete Neubig: [00:37:47] All right. Welcome back. We got Josh Huite here from the Tradesman Experience. And, uh, Josh let's talk about this lightning round. Are you ready?All right. What is one of the stupidest things you did when you first started your business?

    Josh Huite: [00:38:02] Thought I could do it alone.

    Pete Neubig: [00:38:05] I like that, all right. Um, do you use virtual assistants? 

    Josh Huite: [00:38:10] I don't, 

    Pete Neubig: [00:38:11] okay, and we talked a lot about that when I was on your podcast. And we're going to get some trades, guys, to start using virtual assistants so that they can upload the pictures and then do the invoices so your guys don't have to work at nights. Right.

    Josh Huite: [00:38:22] Yep, yep.

    Pete Neubig: [00:38:23] All right. What is one piece of advice you would give someone just starting out in business?

    Josh Huite: [00:38:28] Have a clear plan. And an understand what you need to develop in yourself to execute that plan.

    Pete Neubig: [00:38:35] Does pineapple belong on pizza?

    Josh Huite: [00:38:37] No. 

    Pete Neubig: [00:38:41] Thank you. We just become best friends. What was your first job?

    Josh Huite: [00:38:47] Sweeping floors in the mechanic shop at 13.

    Pete Neubig: [00:38:51] And you wonder why you became a trades guy, huh? Uh huh, uh, what's your ideal vacation?

    Josh Huite: [00:38:59] Uh, beach, swim up bar drinks with my girl.

    Pete Neubig: [00:39:04] I love it. Um, what is a book, uh, that you're currently reading or one that has impacted your business or life?

    Josh Huite: [00:39:12] My life. I will tell you. In 2023, I read Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey. And that was it. As soon as I finished it, I started reading it again.

    Pete Neubig: [00:39:23] Wow. Okay, I'm gonna have to put that on my list. Uh, dogs or cats?

    Josh Huite: [00:39:28] Dogs.

    Pete Neubig: [00:39:29] All right, all right, man. Well, you're off the lightning round. Thank you so much. So if somebody's listening and, uh, they want to listen to your podcast. Where did it go?

    Josh Huite: [00:39:41] It's on iTunes, Spotify, all the listening platforms. It is the Tradesmen Experience. And ultimately, you know, my mission, Pete, is to elevate the skilled trades through leadership. So everything that we talk about on the podcast is relevant to small business, to leadership. We do a lot of interviews yourself, you know, was kind enough to come on my podcast and share your experience and wisdom. And we just try to educate people in, in the skilled trades of how to become better leaders, better business owners and better people.

    Pete Neubig: [00:40:17] Yeah, yeah. And so if they, if somebody was, um, by the way, if you don't get enough of me from the NARPM podcast, go to Josh's podcast and get some more of me. Yeah. So, um, uh, if somebody wanted to contact contact you, what's the best way to get in touch with you?

    Josh Huite: [00:40:31] thetradesmanexperience@gmail.com. They all come to me.

    Pete Neubig: [00:40:36] thetradesmanexperience@gmail.com, and, um, you know, listen, if you're listening to this and you want to learn more about the trades, or maybe you want to, you want to reach out to Josh and maybe he's got some trades folks. Maybe you need trades folks in your area of town, and maybe he knows somebody be a great way to, uh, to be able to build your, your contract or, uh, database if you are, uh, sorry.

    Josh Huite: [00:40:58] I was going to say for the property managers listening, you know, if you want to have a conversation to help structure how to navigate these interviews with these, with these companies. Um, I would love that.

    Pete Neubig: [00:41:11] Oh that's great. You know what.

    Josh Huite: [00:41:12] Questions to ask. What does that look like? Um, so yeah, I think I think there's an opportunity there, you know, for us to add some value.

    Pete Neubig: [00:41:21] Awesome. Thanks for that, Josh. So, uh, if you are not a NARPM member, what the heck are you doing listening to this podcast, not being a member? Call the good folks over there at (800) 782-3452 or go to NARPM n a r p m.org. And if you are thinking about using virtual team members, or you have virtual team members and having a hard time figuring out how to pay them and it's a pain in the butt, give us a call at VPM Solutions. Um, email me directly, pete@vpmsolutions.com or just go to vpmsolutions.com. That's Virtual Property Management solutions. vpmsolutions.com. Josh, thanks so much for being here. Appreciate you, man. And, uh, we'll see. We'll see you next time.Josh Huite: [00:42:04] Thanks, Pete.

    May 8, 2024

    The Vendor Effect: Maximizing Quality in Property Management | Josh Huite

    Josh has been in the trade service industry for 30 years building a very successful HVAC company.  He sold his company and uses his knowledge to help other trades build profitable businesses through coaching and his very successful podcast The Tradesman Experience.