Before, during and after Buildertrend with Decksouth

Today on “The Building Code,” Tom and Paul are joined by John Lea of Georgia company Decksouth to chat about his unique Buildertrend story. Decksouth was started in 1998 by John and one part-time carpenter. Today his team of 24 runs the design-build company with a focus on outdoor living.

Check out the full episode to hear John’s story about how he made Buildertrend work for his company by diving in, taking charge and gaining complete buy-in from his team.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THOSE WHO ARE ON THE FENCE ABOUT JOINING BUILDERTREND, ESPECIALLY RIGHT NOW?

“The COVID-19 and what’s going on right now, guys, if there’s not a better example of why a program like yours is needed, I don’t know how to find one. And, you know, one thing I say around here is, if it didn’t happen in Buildertrend, it didn’t happen at Decksouth.”

“Buildertrend is an insurance policy at some level, it’s a method to the madness, if you will, at another level. For me, Buildertrend is a bit of empowerment, too, being able to go to one place and know what’s going on.”

HOW ARE YOU USING BUILDERTREND?

  • Buildertrend helps to ensure accountability and set metrics for the team
  • We create unique templates that work best for each individual job
  • We use the Client Portal to keep clients involved throughout the process
  • We promote Buildertrend and the Client Portal at the point of sale

LINKS AND MORE

Decksouth Website

Decksouth on Instagram

Decksouth on Facebook

Decksouth on Twitter

John Lea | Decksouth

Tom Houghton:

You’re listening to “The Building Code,” your guide for a better way to run your business. I’m Tom Houghton.

Paul Wurth:

I’m Paul Wurth.

Tom Houghton:

… and we are recording live via Zoom. And today joining us on the podcast, we’ve got John Lea of Decksouth based in Georgia. How’s it going, John?

John Lea:

It’s going well, guys. How are you?

Tom Houghton:

We’re doing great.

Paul Wurth:

Doing well. Working from home.

John Lea:

The new normal.

Tom Houghton:

Yeah.

Paul Wurth:

How’s that going for everybody?

John Lea:

It’s interesting here. The word essential is thrown around a lot, right? And so, luckily we’ve, the state of Georgia, construction being an essential part of the economy here, we’ve got the ability to continue working, which is nice. Everyone being at home right now seems to have opened up some avenues to discuss projects that maybe they weren’t thinking about before.

Paul Wurth:

Yeah. We’ve been talking about that. We’re seeing a lot of construction trucks. If you go out and take walks around the neighborhood and if you do get out and drive around, there’s a lot of work being done. John, you guys, and we should get into what you do, but we feel like more of that’s going to be on the exterior of the home then, are we seeing sort of an uptake there?

John Lea:

I would like to think so. For us, we’ve always focused and we’re licensed residential and commercial general contractor here in Georgia, but we focus strictly on the outdoor living. And with the COVID-19 obviously being outside is probably a little more digestible a project for clients to take on. So I think that, that possibly could benefit guys that are in that space.

Paul Wurth:

Yeah. So why don’t we start there, John? What do you guys do? How long you’ve been in business? Can you give us sort of the whole rundown of your business?

John Lea:

Yeah, sure, sure. So, I’m the head janitor. I started this in ‘98 and at the time had one carpenter working with me. He was actually a fireman so he had a two on three off schedule that made the first year and a half sort of interesting, pretty efficient when he was on site. And then when I was building by myself, it was a little less efficient. So we’ve been at it since ‘98. We’re a little different today, twenty-something years later. We’ve got 24 people in the company right now. We’re running six crews. We do about 65, 68 projects a year, somewhere in there. And like I said, we are focused solely on the outdoor living space.

John Lea:

And I think we kind of go about it a little bit different than maybe others. We’re real big on the design side, so we view ourselves as a true design build outfit, which I think the market’s used to seeing that on the inside, on the remodel side. I think it’s maybe a slightly different approach on the outside of the home with the decks, porches, patios, outdoor living space, water features, pools, things like that.

Tom Houghton:

And the work you do is phenomenal. We highly recommend you follow Decksouth on Instagram, and their other social medias. They’re just at Decksouth on Instagram and you can see some of their impressive work. It’s just elevating Deck to a new level.

John Lea:

Thank you. I appreciate that.

Tom Houghton:

See what I did there, Deck to a new level.

John Lea:

That was nice. Yeah.

Tom Houghton:

Yeah.

John Lea:

Play on words I think they call it.

Tom Houghton:

I tried. Yeah.

John Lea:

Is that coined, trademarked?

Tom Houghton:

No, I think that’s yours now.

John Lea:

Nice.

Tom Houghton:

Yeah. Taking decks to a new level.

Paul Wurth:

What’s the Instagram handle?

Tom Houghton:

@decksouth.

Paul Wurth:

Decksouth, okay.

Tom Houghton:

Yep.

Paul Wurth:

Tom, what’s your Instagram handle? We have we ever thrown that out there for our listeners? We should get a follow…

Tom Houghton:

Just a follow train.

Paul Wurth:

Project. Yeah, let’s do it.

Tom Houghton:

Yeah. So @contechtom, as in construction tech, @contechtom is how you follow Tom.

Paul Wurth:

And what would we find on your feed?

Tom Houghton:

Well, you’re going to see posts about construction and technology coming together to make everyone’s experience better. You’ll also see some behind the scenes posts. In fact, I’ll take a picture of our recording here and I’ll post it there. So you can see behind the scenes of what’s happening.

Paul Wurth:

I’ll do the same thing. I’ll do it right now on my gram.

Tom Houghton:

And you’re @thepaulwurth…

Paul Wurth:

Yeah, the Paul Wurth, very prestigious.

Tom Houghton:

Yeah.

Paul Wurth:

I had to be really specific. It’s like, no other Paul Wurth.

Tom Houghton:

Yeah.

John Lea:

It’s not the number one.

Tom Houghton:

It’s the one, yeah, the Paul Wurth.

Paul Wurth:

Yep. And we’ll follow any companies that follow us, we’ll follow you back. We’ll get our numbers up.

Tom Houghton:

That’s right.

Tom Houghton:

So John, you’ve got a really interesting story to tell and that’s kind of what we want to focus on here on the podcast. You signed up for Buildertrend, you used it for a while and then maybe before I spoil it, maybe I’ll just let you take over and you can kind of give us the story.

John Lea:

Yeah. I don’t know, maybe it is unique, maybe there’s a bunch of folks that have gone through the same thing, I’m not sure. But when we were searching for something to put some method to the madness, right, back in ‘14, we found Buildertrend and implemented it, felt like it was properly implemented. Looking back on it now, it was not. The way we did it, it was horrible. Set up templates, worked with everything for a while, and I’d say about a year and a half, maybe a little longer two years, but it was never a total buy-in Tom. I look back and at times I wondered why, I know now, but stepped away from Buildertrend, just couldn’t get everyone to truly again, buy into it and understand that this is where we not only want to go, but we need to go, have to go.

John Lea:

And the biggest issue, and if anyone ever asked if there’s a word of advice, I would say the biggest mistake I made is that I wasn’t… My project manager said something to me. We were having a beer one evening and he looked at me and he goes, “I hear what you’re saying, John, but you do realize that no one’s going to totally buy in until you completely buy in.” And I’m like, “Oh yeah.” It was like a light bulb. Because I kept thinking, okay, well, everybody will pick it up because I’ve never viewed myself as a highly technical individual. So I just thought I would kind of, I don’t know, sit in the back of the classroom, so to speak and just eventually catch up, but everyone else would be there before I was there.

John Lea:

And then realize, gosh, I’ve got to kind of lead that if anyone’s really going to believe that this is where we’re going, so stepped away. And for a while there, let me take a step back. When we first got it, it was kind of like buying a truck, put it in the garage and opening the door, going, “Look at that truck, man, let’s go sit in it, turn the radio on it.” “Hey, so how’s it driving?” “I have no idea. I’ve never driven it down the road. Haven’t used it for really what it’s worth, but…” So we just kind of scratched. We opened up schedules, we opened up daily logs, but other than that we imported all of our client base and everything, but we didn’t… We’re barely scratching the surface.

John Lea:

And one of the things that was odd to me at first was, we called it the war room where we’d all get together and just kind of the magic happens for us, not the conference room, but just a brain dump room with the whiteboards everywhere. Each crew had three whiteboards, right, on the wall historically for many, many years, month one, month two, month three. And when we started looking at the Buildertrend scheduling, the struggle for me was going in my mind from looking at our schedule as crew based and now looking at it as job based, right? We open up Buildertrend. It’s like, OK, go to a crew A. “Well now, John, that’s not really how it set up. We need to go to the job first. No, we’ve manipulated things over the years to see things a little different.”

John Lea:

But that was odd to me at first, I had to kind of wrap my hands around that because the whole notion of you don’t know what you don’t know. Now it’s a different day. So, stepped away from it after we just muddled out there, whatever, it didn’t hold, it didn’t stick. And so a year and a half, maybe two years later, we stepped away from it. And I decided that I was going to try my best to find something that, is Buildertrend really the best thing that’s out there? There’s got to be… I just don’t understand why. I was asking all kinds of questions. So I went and searched. I probably had at that time about 300 hours of looking at everything that was out there, and dove into that, took it on as a project, and finally realized, and maybe it was… I give the analogy It’s like being in high school and your girlfriend, you’re like, I think I can do better. And then you go and you look around, and you’re like, nope, nope, that’s about as good as I could ever do.

John Lea:

So, you go crawling back with your tail between your legs. It was a little bit like that in the sense of, “Hey, will Buildertrend have us back?” And of course you guys are like open arms. And so when it was time to come back, I decided that I had to buy in right away, right? So necessity, I guess, as a strong force. And I knew that it was mandatory, necessary, whatever, for me to be one of the experts in the company and really embrace it right away. So it’s been a whole new day now.

Tom Houghton:

That’s awesome. That’s quite the story there. What would you say if you had to boil it down to the reason you walked away? What was the tipping point, the thing that just pushed you over the edge that was like, that’s it, we’re out?

John Lea:

Yeah. That’s a good question Tom. I guess it’s probably a little singular for us because it was also an employee that was with the company. And Mike was a big part of the company and actually kind of spearheaded it. And when he and I decided that it was time, he was going to go to a supplier by the name of Boise Cascade, and be one of their sales managers, much closer to home. He was driving an hour and a half, one way to work, all that. And so, it was a family opportunity for him to be closer. So when he left the company, because he really… At first the task was, hey, Mike, will you find the best that’s out there, software that manages jobs. And when he came back and said, “Hey, it’s Buildertrend.” He kind of spearheaded that.

John Lea:

So as we would have our Tuesday morning meetings, Mike is a technical guy. And so he was able to kind of scroll through Buildertrend in a way that I… I Would kid with him. I’m like, “Man, if you don’t slow down, I don’t even know what I’m looking at.” Right. And I looked around the room and people had glassy eyes trying to follow. And it was the scenario of somebody understanding the program and having a room full of people that don’t, and they’re not being… We didn’t put together a real distinct way of onboarding of that. So when he was no longer in the mix, we’re kind of flailing, like, okay, what do we… You know what… And so it was a kind of singular and probably wouldn’t happen in other companies if the management stayed the same, but that’s kind of what led into that, was just, okay, let’s see if there’s anything else out there.

John Lea:

And I had a contractor buddy, he’s a painter, but he stopped by the office one afternoon and I’m working on Buildertrend. And sometimes you shouldn’t listen to some of your friends, right, you should just take what they say and throw it over your shoulder. And I don’t know what it was, but he said something like, “Oh, you know what? I just think that Buildertrend is just too hard. Here’s what I use.” And he gives me a name. So I start looking at that and that started the perpetual snowball effect. I’m like, “Wait a minute, if that… Well, what about…” And then 300 and something hours later, I’m like, okay, you had nothing… There’s several things out there that do a few things good, but Buildertrend and you guys just kept going on and on and on and on and adding features.

John Lea:

You do almost everything great. Some things you’re phenomenal, some things are just great, but others had a complete… We did do several things great, and then wouldn’t even touch other parts of a software project management software program. So that’s when it was, obviously, it was time to come back and really take it serious this time and do it right. And that’s why I reached out to you guys. And I wanted to grab a handful of us and come out to Omaha, just hasn’t happened. So we did the whole onsite training stuff where you guys came into Atlanta and did that, which was great.

Tom Houghton:

Yeah. Maybe you could share your experience with that actually a little bit, because I think that almost sounds like you learned your lesson basically, which was you tried to, which is a good thing, right, you tried to implement it the first time around, it didn’t go well. And so you said, “You know what, let’s get some people here onsite in our office and let’s really dive in and make sure everybody’s on board.”

John Lea:

Yeah. Tom, one of the things that I noticed as I kept checking back in with you guys and always following on you and everything. I noticed that there seemed to be the reality and no one’s ever said this, but I assumed this, and maybe I’m wrong, but there seemed to be a reality that at some point you guys said, “Hey, our software is awesome, but it’s only as awesome as our customers understand it, our clients understand it and know how to use it.” So, it seemed to me that when you implemented BTU that all of a sudden there was a whole new shift of, Hey, let’s maybe slow our roll on being the software gurus and be the software trainers and educators so that we can… So as I kind of saw that shift happening, and I was like, we’ve got to get out there to Buildertrend University and I would watch your videos.

John Lea:

And I don’t remember who she was. Sorry to say, but I watched a video and she said, “If you think you can’t afford to bring your team out here, you can’t not afford to bring your team out here.” And that’s like, that’s it. I’m in. All right, we got to make this work. And it just… Okay, we’re going to be on that one. And then I was like, nah, let’s push that one back. And then one month lead to six months, six months lead to, I would say within the next year. And I’m like, all right. So, when you had the on-site came out, I got that email and immediately I dialed you guys up and we set that up for as soon we could. So yeah. I knew that there was no reason. What’s the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results or whatever.

Tom Houghton:

Yep.

John Lea:

I think I have that t-shirt. I’ve subscribed to that theory often thinking that I’m not, but realized I am. So, didn’t want to make that mistake again here.

Tom Houghton:

That’s great. What would you say to somebody who’s probably listening to this podcast, sitting in the same shoes that you’re sitting in, they’ve done the same thing over and over again. So they’ve either run their construction company one way for a number of years, why would they jump on the Buildertrend train now? And then there’s other people out there are probably sitting, going with everything happening in the world right now, what should I be doing with Buildertrend? if I’m not doing as many projects right now what’s the benefit?

John Lea:

Yeah. Another great question there. I think that the COVID-19 and what’s going on right now guys, is if there’s not a better example of why a program like yours is needed, I don’t know how to find one. And one thing I say around here is if it didn’t happen in Buildertrend, it didn’t happen in Decksouth. So you got to feed the machine as we call it, because you can’t get out of it what you want out of it, unless you put into it what is required to put into it. So, I take no credit here, but I’ll tell you a quick story. Back in ‘05, ‘06, I was saying too… We’re putting a new website together and I said to the developer, the guy that was putting it together, I said, “Wouldn’t it be cool? Could you write a code that allows our clients to log in?” They can see our daily pictures, we could communicate, it was a very watered down version of just a communication scenario where we can put notes for our clients.

John Lea:

Well, he looked at me like I had two heads and then he goes, “Yeah, let me get to work on it.” And we spent some money on it, but never were able to implement it on the site. And I’m like, “Eh, I guess that’s just a bad idea.” And then handful of years later, the pros, you guys put it together and it’s an off the shelf program that continues getting better and better. So, I think the, at least for me personally, the need for something like this, I think was always in the back of my mind, but it’s taken on a whole new role.

John Lea:

If you look at the commercial industry and the legality of what’s going on out there, like I said, we play a little bit in the commercial world. There’s a lot of people suing each other, it’s business to business, B to B, right? So B to C on the residential side, you don’t really think about it much, but there’s a big CYA version here in play at Buildertrend without even saying the obvious. Everybody here knows this real well. We had a client in ‘08 that we built a porch for stucco house three years ago. I get an email. John, we’re having the back of our house redone. The stucco contractor says he wants 10 grand for the damage that you did when you built us a porch.

John Lea:

I’m like, “I’m sorry, what?” And he said, “Yeah, there’s a massive crack in the back of the house that’s about 25 feet long that was not there before you guys built the porch.” So, I go through several hard drives and finally find the digital pictures that I took many years ago, preconstruction. And there’s their old deck and there’s the big crack all the way through the back of their house. So I fired it off to him and and he said, “Oh, and by the way, it’s $10,000 to fix this. I expect you’re going to take care of it.” And I’m like, man, I don’t even know if I can prove that I know that we didn’t cause that. So when I fired that picture, back to him, the response was, thank you very much, have a good day.

John Lea:

So we laugh around, maybe not laugh, but we chuckled that they say a picture’s worth a thousand words or whatever, a pictures worth, $10,000 to us. Buildertrend is that on steroids where if we don’t document, when we drop material, if we’re not taking pictures of the driveway and putting them into Buildertrend, someone could feasibly say, “Hey, the crack in the driveway is caused by your lumber.” Well, now we’ve got six pictures of the driveway, man, and here you go. We hope that that situation never arise or comes up or happens. But it’s an insurance policy at some level. It’s a method to the madness, if you will, at another level. It’s actually… I’m definitely not naturally an organized individual.

John Lea:

If anyone that knows me knows that I’m… Gary V calls it, what, clouds and boots, and I’m definitely a clouds guy, right? So I kind of doubled down on that. And then the things that I really suck at, I tried to put really good people around me that are good at it. So for me, Buildertrend was a bit of empowerment to, like being able to go to one place and see what’s going on. Because sad to say, for many, many years I ran the company kind of with a gut feel. You walk on the job you know, you look around and you go, yeah, this feels like about another seven days, we’ll be through that. Well, that’s great John, but how do you scale that? How do you get that crap out of your head and go somewhere else with it, right? Sorry to ramble there, but that’s kind of how I want to see that.

Paul Wurth:

Yeah. I think that’s obviously a great personal story from you of like why you needed it. And I think to Tom’s point on the sales end of things, where I lived a long time in Buildertrend, it’s like, well, I don’t need it. As the business owner, I’m doing fine with my process, but we always talk about, well, that’s fine if you think you don’t need it, but what about everybody else? What about the homeowner needing it? A place where they can go for their anxiety of what’s going on and checking things. And what about your employees, what do they need? Without a central place a process, how do you properly hold your employees accountable?

Paul Wurth:

How do you show them where and how to do things? And so I think this idea about need it’s not just like the business owner needing it, it’s everybody else, because this is a communal process, right? There’s a lot of hands in the pot from the suppliers and the subcontractors, and laborers and the employees and yourself and the client, everybody’s involved, the architects and designers. And so that idea of I don’t need it, you could probably make an argument as a business owner who’s really good at keeping everything in his head. Obviously they own a business, so they are successful, but what about everybody else? It’s sort of something we always talk about.

John Lea:

Absolutely Paul, you hit the nail on the head there. You’ve got a communal approach right, in this space, in the marketplace. And I think too many times business owners are probably singing from the same hymnal as I was. The knowledge was up here, but… And I’m a terrible micromanager. I can’t stand being that or working with that. So, I have a tendency to give an employee plenty of rope, where they can fly high like a kite or hang themselves. And so Buildertrend was a bit of accountability for me to set some metrics in place where they could also see how they’re stacking up as well. And another thing that Buildertrend helped us do is it’s not always off the shelf.

John Lea:

Okay, where’s the template that does this? Well, it’s not there, John, but let’s create it. Let’s somewhat manipulate, and when I say manipulate I don’t mean in a negative way, in a very positive way, let’s create that so that it works. And I’m sure you guys on your end you see it over and over again, thousands of times a day where not every one of your clients use this Buildertrend exactly the same way, right? They bended it and molded a little bit to their scenario. One of the things that I really like about Buildertrend that I’ve heard other guys say, yeah, we probably won’t use that, it blows my mind, is the client, the login, the client portal login. For me, our design and sales process is probably a little different than others.

John Lea:

I don’t have a full sales team like we did in the past. So we do something a little different. And I get in front of each of our clients and deal with them one-on-one. So, when you’ve got a project that six-figure deck and porch or whatever, it’s got a lot of moving parts, it can kind of slow the process down if at contract we’ve got to have so many things hammered out in the old way of, okay, what’s it called? The decking. What type? A handrail. How many lights are we going to use on the led side? Okay, where’s our line voltage? And do we have two fans or four fans? Or are we going to do heaters? Are we’re going to do power screens or fixed screen, whatever. Whatever, right?

John Lea:

So with the selections, I love the fact that I can go in at a contract time at a baseline and say, here’s where we are. This is what’s included. Now, here’s the cool thing, we’re not going to build this. By the time we go to permit, which here is a pretty big deal, all of our drawings are stamped by an engineer and then we pull permits on everything. And it’s typically a slow process here in the Atlanta area. So we might not build that project for 90 days. And so over the next 90 days, you get to have fun logging into your client portal and just imagine, okay, what would it be if we went with that hand rail, or it’s going to save us money, it’s going to be more money.

John Lea:

And then with the pictures that we’ve attached, we try to build out the selections page pretty heavy. And it’s always a moving target, but that’s a big plus for me. And I think the clients like it, but you have to do it the right way. Because we did it the wrong way at first, and we kind of screwed ourselves. It’s like, you talk about it, and you’re like, Hey, we’ve got that… And then when we release it, it’s like there’s three selections. You’re like, “Oh, that sucks, John, thanks.” So, it obviously has to be where you want it to be in order for it to work for you.

Paul Wurth:

Yeah. I think we talk a lot about using Buildertrend in the sales process and that’s one aspect of it, but on the highest level, do you talk about Buildertrend to your prospect and say, Hey, when you build with us, here’s how we’re going to communicate. Can you, for the listeners who maybe want to do that because we preach that a lot. How do you go about explaining your client communication and how do you sell that to make that sort of an advantage of going with Decksouth?

John Lea:

Yeah. So, side note, I we’ve got four millennials in the company that I’m proud and happy to say that we have. And one of them, I had recently with me on a on-site visit on a design call. We got back in the truck and he’d seen me in the office, like task manager as much as I hate it, trying to do that. And he hadn’t seen that side of me, he’s kind of a newer guy with the team. And so he goes, “Man, that was great to see. What’s the process there.” And I answered him. I said, “Personally, I’ve always thought Decksouth as a whole, if it looked as if we had a sales process and we weren’t doing the right thing.” I’ve always felt like more of a consultant than a salesman at any level, right?

John Lea:

So you get in there and you really want to listen to what they’re trying to do. And I call it the dream design, give me the dream. Our design game’s pretty strong. And so we can create stuff that’s really lifelike to be able to show them what their exact house looks like and what the porch, patio, and deck, and pool, whatever it looks like. So in that process, as I say something along the lines of, and by the way, guys if we earn your business the way in which we work is we function through a software program called Buildertrend. So just like the email that you received Decksouth, that Buildertrend and you accepted the design agreement that you’ve already signed for me to be out here and put a design together for you. You’ll also get a client login.

John Lea:

And in that log in, it’ll house everything needed for the project. And then I say something along the lines of if you say, “You know what, I never want to talk to that John guy again, but I want Decksouth to build my project.” You can literally… We can function and you’d have to talk to me again. We can function through the message function in Buildertrend. And sometimes that gets a laugh, and sometimes that gets a nod and an explanation of, “Yes, that’d be great if we never had to talk to you again.” So it could go either way. I guess, Paul, for me, it’s less of a push and more of a kind of the, Oh, and by the way scenario, this is how we work and then just leave it with them.

John Lea:

And some of them will actually go, now, tell me more about that. And we get into it a little bit more. Others are like, wow, that sounds really nice. It sounds like you guys have a system put together there. But I think in our world, every time I ring the doorbell as a contractor, I think at times you’re always digging yourself out of a hole because there’s so many… There’s too many over the years, negative contractors that have given the industry a black eye. So, me personally, I’ve felt like there’s a lot of times where you’re having to overcome some sins of the past that you had nothing to do with. And so, I think by at least letting them know. If you’re using Buildertrend and you’re not letting your prospects know you’re using it, you’re missing out on a big feature.

John Lea:

Just the very idea that you have a program, a software program that helps you with the schedule function. Nothing else has the schedule function. Here’s the schedule you can literally log in and look at where we are compared to where we told you would be, and then it will adjust and you don’t have to worry and wonder, when’s that electrical walk? Because you get to go, honey, when’s that electrical walk? Well, it says right here it’s next Tuesday at nine o’clock. Okay, great. When’s our next payment due? Well, it says at framing on the following Thursday. So, I think that by itself is a separator from what most guys are doing. So again, if someone asked, I would say really dial into the selections and really dial into using it for the client, because that’s important.

John Lea:

And for us, what we put on there when they log in, the first picture we put there is their design, right? And it took a little while. I logged into someone’s page one time. I’m like, why is there a picture of a hole with half of it has got concrete? Because we’re just feeding the pictures in there and I never said anything is that, is the client… what do you call it?

Tom Houghton:

Featured photo.

John Lea:

Is featured photo.

Tom Houghton:

Yeah.

John Lea:

Thank you. So little things like that, that you learn as you go, I guess.

Tom Houghton:

Yeah. It sounds like it’s going a lot better. Would you say the second time around that it’s been a little bit better experience?

John Lea:

It’s a win. It’s a home run for us. Yeah, Tom, it really is. It’s a home run for us. I enjoy… I’m sitting here at my desk and for the first time in my life, I’ve got two big computer screens. And the reason for that is so I can look at multiple calendars and work from it and that’s not a norm for me. So yeah, it’s huge win for us. I don’t know… It doesn’t give me a headache, but it would not be a positive to think about going back to the old days of yellow notepad and pen and keeping everything between the years kind of stuff.

Tom Houghton:

Well, to wrap up real quick, what’s the future look like for you? Especially using Buildertrend as part of your process now that you’ve got it back in there, what’s the forecast and I know it’s a little bit difficult sometimes to pick a forecast right now with everything going on with this pandemic, but how are you feeling about everything?

John Lea:

It seems like every day it changes, right, but it’s like I told my team when it first happened. We all got together and said, “We don’t know what’s, what’s happening here, but the one thing I…” I said, “The one thing I do know is you will never, ever hear a person say in the history of man, you know what, we accomplished everything we wanted to do as a team. And we did that by fear, worrying, paranoia and restriction and the idea of scarcity.” I said, “So guys, mindset is big here.” So at least around here, we try to keep our head up and be positive. What’s today? The 10th. So a lot’s changed in the last few weeks, but I feel like as this comes back around and as the economy turns around, guys that are positioned, have a good foundation in their business we’ll probably do really well in the construction industry and the remodeling industry.

John Lea:

I have a feeling the remodeling industry is going to pick up because when you think about the notion that now all of the sudden, Mr. and Mrs. Homeowner, maybe they go out to dinner on a Wednesday night and a Saturday night all the time, and now they’re going to stay at home, they’re going to cook, they’re going to enjoy… Let’s cook out on Wednesday night and Thursday night. Let’s remodel our kitchen. Let’s build a new outdoor kitchen. Let’s build a new porch and let’s redo our basement because we want friends to come over. We’re not going to go possibly hang out at a public forum at a restaurant or something like that. So I don’t know. I could be kidding myself, but I think that might play out, I hope that plays out. So, we’ll see.

Tom Houghton:

I definitely think you’re onto something there. Yeah. I’ve already gotten bids for backyard landscaping, it’s stuff that you’re typically at the office all day and now you’re at home. And so you’re looking at your kitchen, you’re looking at your bathrooms and you’re thinking, you know what, we should do something with those.

John Lea:

Yeah. One of the things in the last three that we’ve put in three different designs is, we find ourselves doing a lot of TVs in porches, right, over the fireplace or whatever. And typically we use a Sono set up and we do it all turnkey. Well, now we’ve also been discussing and have been implementing, basically calling on Zoom rooms or an outdoor video conference ability, right? So you’re stuck in the house and the new norm is doing business like we’re doing with Zoom. And so, I think they’re calling them Zoom rooms or whatever, but that’s been received pretty well with the last handful of designs, and obviously a small tweak, right? But then it just gives the ability for the porch to be an outdoor area of that same conferencing ability.

Tom Houghton:

That’s awesome.

Paul Wurth:

John, and there’s some really great stuff from you throughout this entire podcast. I think we’re going to send this out to everybody because I think you speak to so many great parts of your business and Buildertrend, but I think that the biggest thing I just heard in the time of COVID-19 is leadership. And I think that was a great message from you. And I think it’s the job of every business owner, right now especially, to grab their team and lead and speak to what’s going on and how we’re going to deal with it. And I think your message of positivity and taking this as an opportunity to have a positive change in the business was great. So, kudos to you and every business owner out there because it’s a very tough time right now. Everybody’s very worried of what’s going on, especially employees. So great job on that. And I don’t think you can communicate that enough. So, all the business owners out there keep communicating with your team, no matter what that communication is, just keep doing it because people need that right now.

John Lea:

Yeah. He appreciate that.

Tom Houghton:

Awesome. Thanks, John so much for joining us on the podcast today, we’ve really enjoyed having you on and sharing your story and hearing about it. Again, we wish you the best in this time and really looking forward to seeing your next couple of projects come to life online so you can follow along.

John Lea:

Hey, Tom, Paul, appreciate the time guys. Enjoy the podcast and I listened to it as soon as it comes out, I’m listening. So, thanks a lot for your time.

Tom Houghton:

Awesome.

Paul Wurth:

Thanks, John.

Tom Houghton:

Love what you heard? Don’t forget to rate and subscribe to our podcasts so you can hear from more guests that will benefit your business. Also, please check out our show notes page for more information on what we discussed on this episode, you can find it at buildertrend.com/podcast. Thanks for listening. And we’ll see you next time on “The Building Code.” Appreciate you.


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