I grew up on a farm, and I knew from an early age that I didn’t like working for anybody else. My parents gave us kids specific tasks, and we were responsible for them. There was a lot of freedom and a lot of responsibility. I started working for a guy for about eight months and couldn’t stand it. I was used to planning my day and week.
One day I saw some guys building a house, and I set my goal to build a house. Eventually I had a set of plans and a banker, and somehow it all came together. I built my first house and then built another. The first 10 houses were specs before I got my first custom home. I got some very good advice from a mentor to get involved in the Home Builders Association. It opened my eyes to the industry. Around the same time I read a book by Michael Gerber called The E-Myth. It said that if you wanted to run a business, you have to put standards in place. Then you can teach the standards and franchise the business.
It took me the next seven years to put all of our processes down on paper. I hired a client’s daughter to interview everyone in the firm and write it all down. She created this big black binder. We would go to remodeling shows and homebuilding shows, and there we were connected with business networks—in which we were able to fine-tune our business.
By late 1999 we were into our fourth subdivision, and I was getting burned out. I didn’t want to keep borrowing lots of money and building all of these houses, so we made the switch to focus on remodeling. I restructured the company and put myself in charge of sales. I was trying to minimize risk and increase my sanity.
We built our remodeling business and got our processes down. We learned how to put together a process map, a very sophisticated but easy-to-use map that outlines what should be done from the time the phone rings and someone wants to do some remodeling or build a house all the way to the one-year warranty. Now we use that document to train new employees.
The transition for our company took place in 2009, when my son, Cale, who [had] completed three tours of duty in Iraq, was ready to come and work with me. While he was in Iraq, Cale listened to tapes to learn the Sandler’s sales process. The previous four months before Cale came on board, it was so hard to find a job. Cale walked into the office, and the phones started ringing like you wouldn’t believe. Cale sold our biggest job that year, and he had to resell it three times. He learned success, and he felt defeat. He was able to do it because of the processes we put in place. I believe it’s through having a strong faith in God and his gifts. I have spent plenty of hours praying. The good Lord will deliver.
I wanted to build a company, not just houses. We’ve created a great opportunity to pass the business on to my son. In two years we want to be operating with Cale in charge, and my role will shift into being a sales person. Our motto is “On time, on budget, happy customers, and happy employees.” If it doesn’t fit in that realm, why are we doing it? ABQ