Larry Hickman is the owner of Prosperity PPC, an agency specializing in the water damage restoration and mold remediation space. Larry helps businesses that do anywhere from $500,000 to $10,000,000 a year keep a steady stream of work and flourish inside their industry.
In this episode, Larry shares the key strategies and processes that have helped Prosperity PPC triple its revenue in 2020. From prospecting insights to customer retention strategy, we get an insider’s look at what success looks like in the water damage niche.
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Joe Troyer 0:57
Hey, everybody, its Joe Troyer, and welcome to yet another episode of Show Me the Nuggets. Today we have a guest on and one of my favorite niches of all time, and that is water damage. And today we have one of Invisible PPC's own partners, Larry Hickman. And I'm super excited to bring to bring Larry on to the call. He helps really water damage restoration and mold remediation companies doing anywhere from half a million to 10 million a year, really keep their employees in work and really flourish inside the niche that they're in. Right. And so I'm excited without further ado to bring Larry onto the call. Welcome, Larry, officially to the podcast.
Larry Hickman 1:45
Thanks, Joe, I appreciate it. I love being here loving, you know, the idea of sharing some of my own experience and seeing how it can help people. So yeah,
Joe Troyer 1:52
that's awesome, brother, before we dive deep, and we start giving the nuggets away, so to speak, tell us how you ended up in digital marketing, you ended up in, you know, the agency world, and how you ended up ultimately, right today and in the water damage niche.
Larry Hickman 2:07
Sure. So as a bit of a journey, my first business actually I started up here in Alaska, which I now live in Alaska.
Again, I moved back to Alaska recently last year. But my first business was with a real estate partner of mine, starting a property management company. And we grew to a little over a million dollars in revenue our first year. And I learned a lot from that what I learned really more than anything is really having good partners and finding the right team really helps. So that one person isn't doing all the work because at that point, he called me up one day, I said, Hey, I have this opportunity. Another real estate agent in the market who had been up here for you know, 30, 40 years had been buying properties, a lot of mixes four plexes, and six plexes and stuff was retiring. And they needed someone to manage this. And they wanted him to do it. But he he only managed a couple properties, right? A couple single family units or something like that for his own clients as he was trying to sell the properties. Because he was a real estate broker up here. And so that's how I kind of get into my first business. But I realized like, because we took over 64 units, just mix up four plexes, six plexes. So it just, you know, it was a lot of work. And I jumped in feet first and realized afterwards, after I sold my interest back to him after I did this for a year. I was like I can't do this anymore. Right? Because at that point, I was working 100 plus hours a week. And that wasn't the life that I wanted to have. My sister refers to it as the year she didn't see me. And that's particularly important because it was running the other half of the duplex that that she was buying at the time. And so our front doors are like 10 feet away from each other, I'd come down the stairs and go out to my car. But I'd never saw her because I was working, you know, easy hundred plus hours a week, like 16 hour days with my slow days. So because I was doing everything myself. And then fast forward a few years, I was working with a green energy construction company out in Pennsylvania, because I've moved down there due to a relationship and just helping them transition from fact I kind of stumbled in that role. I was doing sales for them at the time. And then they would always have problems with their computers or something else. And they would always ask me because I was, you know, raised around computers, my uncle built computers for the Navy's back in the 50s. Whatever his old transitions are, so he taught me a lot about computers growing up. And so that always asked him about stuff. And then eventually, you know, it sales and marketing kind of blends together sometimes. And I would just be in the room while they were having, hey, we're trying to do this trying to do this, can you help us out with this and eventually became
marketing director for that company and help them transition from traditional advertising methods like billboards, radio ads, newspaper, stuff like that they were normally doing into the digital marketing side of things. So that's really kind of where I cut my teeth in digital marketing, working specifically in the Home Services, and you fast forward a few more years. I had decided I want to get back into business for myself, you know, just had that entrepreneurial bug and obviously had some background with Home Services, even though it wasn't those have like a direct correlation to water restoration. But they're somewhat tied to it. In fact, actually, my first client was a painter, a good friend of mine who was a painter.
Joe Troyer 5:11
And I stumbled the bond water restoration. by him, I was a part of a local BNI chapter. If someone out there doesn't know about BNI, it's great. It's great for the trades. There's usually Home Services, like, you know, for restoration companies out there, there's usually a plumber, there's usually a real estate agent, there's usually an insurance agent. So all your great referral partners can be right there in the room, and you can meet with them every week and pass referrals. That's what it's about. So if you don't know about me, and I definitely looked at look into it, right, it's definitely an organization I support. I was secretary treasurer in our chapter down there for a little while. And that's how I met my first Servpro franchise came in, they visited and we became friends and they became our first Water Restoration customer. And, you know, we were able to get great results for them. Just to highlight that is like when we first took over their Google Ads account, they were spending about $4500 a month on average, and seen about nine phone calls come through. And not all those were translating into into jobs, right. So in fact that out of those nine, only two of them had turned into work. And so we looked over their account. So we took over and two months later, when brought in 27 phone calls, right. So we've more than tripled the number of phone calls. And more importantly, as they were only spending about 16 to 1700 dollars a month to get those same 27 phone calls. And about 60% of those were converting into into actual work for them. So it's just, you know, they were running it themselves. And that's where we find a lot of our clients come in, they may be trying to do it themselves, and may have someone who's not as specialized with it. And that's really where we can add value. And that's how I kind of got into it is Water Restoration was a natural fit. Looking back over the course of my life. I grew up in Texas, right where we have tornadoes and hurricanes all the time. And I can distinctly remember having to go down, you know, we had drive down and everybody would pile into the back of the pickup truck, we lived about two hours north of Houston. So it wouldn't be away from the bulk of a storm. But storms come into Galveston area, a lot of my family lives on that coast, sharks and family we'd go and pick them up my uncles and aunts and you know, my grandmother and my grandfather and drive up north and get out of the storm. But when you go back, you'd have to rebuild or, you know, repair a place, or my uncle's was a carpenter and other was electrician. And so but you know, we would see that firsthand. So I have a huge respect for the Water Restoration industry and the work that those guys do. Because someone needs to come in and help the people out, you know, when that happens, and that's one of the things I love working about with this industry is that not only are they providing work for their own families, for their own teammates that are there, but they're getting people back to a livable situation after you know, something crazy, which you can't control the weather. Right. You know, there's things like that you just can't do anything. So yeah, anyway, that's kind of the long winded explanation. That's kind of how I got into it. But yeah, hopefully, that answers the question, right?
Yeah, that was great. I think you mentioned something there at the end and thinking about the customer, and what they're doing, right? And then restoration. It's a crazy niche, right? Because people are in this panic mode, right? Especially like water damage, you think about what the water damage jobs are. Unfortunately, this year, actually, at the beginning of the year, we had some water damage actually end of last year, about to the tune of about $200,000, I was actually out speaking at two different events at Austin and then New York City. And I got a call from my wife at three o'clock in the morning, basically panicking, that we had had water damage. And so it's it's crazy to think about, you know, a restoration company, and then being in that business, you know, all day, every day, right? getting calls early in the morning, late at night, you know, in that emergency mode dealing with, you know, prospects and, and new customers like my wife, like I can only imagine, you know, being in that world. So definitely a crazy experience having to, you know, work with people through like crisis mode, right?
Larry Hickman 9:02
Yeah, yeah. And a lot of it sometimes that's just emotional coaching, right? It's like calming the people down on the phone. And that call handling skill really kind of, is very important. Because obviously, whoever takes that phone call needs to be able to meet that prospect wherever they're at. And, you know, maybe it's a water damage, or maybe they're not panicking, but a lot of times they can be if it's like an emergency, hey, I have two inches of water on my kitchen floor, right? Like, you know, obviously gonna deal with that issue. But some of it obviously is a little bit more tame than that, whether it's like a mold kind of job where it's like, Hey, I just need to see if there's a problem here or not. Or if it maybe there's not rushing water, water situation. Sometimes it's just Hey, we just know that we can see some dampness somewhere, whatever the case is, but either way, yeah, it's a definitely. You got to meet the client where they're at, and it's how you handle that false first phone call is what we see is a big difference between the people who are really striving and then the people that don't because it's your supporting content, right. So in terms of, they're talking with the human being,
have to have someone to answer the phone. That's the number one thing I can tell for water restoration is you just got to have someone answering the phones all the time. We hear a lot and one reverse takeover for a customer, if they are having these phone trees, press one to connect to this so that people will hang up because they need someone to talk to you they what they really need is, hey, when can you be out there, right? For the types of calls that that we're listening to, and that we're tracking for our clients
that you want. But you have to be ready to go at any time. Right? So
you kind of gave a really good tip there. I don't want to gloss over it. Rightc IVRs kill call conversions in any type of emergency semi emergency, even any just like local business when you're expecting they're called Bob the plumber, right? Even not non emergency, and you start getting IVR trees and enter your zip code. You're like, is this really local? We did a study internally, we did a we did a study on a bunch of phone calls. And we found that every phone tree menu response that you asked for somebody to input, we would lose 20% of people on average, from every response, right? Like they just know. Yep, click. Um, you know, the second one, you're, you've lost 40% of your phone calls.
Larry Hickman 13:10
I don't know the exact numbers on our side. But I would say that probably trends to be true. I mean, we we obviously recommend our clients to answer the call, they can't hire an after hour service, because obviously no one wants to be on call 24 seven, a lot of our clients will they haven't a designated person to be 24 seven, hey, it's your week, you know, it's like an on call staff or residents or a dog or something, hey, this, you're on call this week, and then the next person you're on call the next week or whatever, so that you kind of share the burden, but it's certainly important. Have someone answer that phone, especially with the emergency services work? So yeah.
Joe Troyer 13:41
Cool. Let's zoom out just a little bit today. What's your agency look like in terms of top line revenue, top line customers?
Larry Hickman 13:47
Yeah, so we've been so interesting, because of COVID. We've actually gone deeper with our clients a lot this year. So we haven't been focused on growth as much in terms of
acquiring new customers. But we have basically tripled our revenue from the beginning of the year. So because with COVID, obviously, a lot of our clients Just so you know, are SERVPRO franchises, they're not all obviously, but SERVPR is obviously known, they come out with a certified SERVPRO claim when COVID, hit disinfect and stuff like that. So we've seen a huge trend for that over the past six to seven months. So we've been mostly focused on again, diving into offering deeper services for our clients or multiple types of services. And this is also where it comes back to whenever you're looking at growing right with any business. If you're looking to going from 1 million to 3 million or three to five or whatever your goal is right? wherever you're at. It's really important to have systems and processes in place. And we found through obviously, this new service COVID just like throw thrown out there because suddenly everybody's on everybody's mind and
people are inquiring about that is again the companies that really strive well are the ones that have systems and processes for not just tracking the phone calls, but
tracking it back to revenue. Because one of the things we found over the past six months is, on a residential side, a lot of people are interested, we get a lot of clicks, right on Google ads or on social, you know, content, whether it's you know, organic rankings, or Google my businesses and lots of people searching for it, lots of people clicking and calling, but then on a residential side, because, you know, insurance doesn't really cover for that, that, you know, people don't want to do the self pay option there, which is fine. They don't want to pay 500 to $1000, whatever the square footage to get it done. But commercial is really good for it, right? We've had a client that brought on someone for COVID, for 200 grand a month, right? And so, which is in the water restoration industry, or restoration industry at all, you don't normally have a lot of opportunities for recurring revenue, right, which, which is different. It's like a one off, hey, we come in, we fix your problem, and then we're on to the next job that we have to do, right? So having that recurring kind of model really has helped out. So that's that just for that, that one client that, you know, obviously, annualized is two and a half million dollars, right. So we want to focus more on that kind of stuff. And what we found is the residential side, we have to weed out but without the systems and processes to track the calls, not just Hey, the phone call came in. And it was a call for disinfection. But did that actually turn into revenue, or what's actually happening on these phone calls.
And that's one of the things that we do best is not only do we track the phone call, and we know what produced the phone call, but we track it down to did it turn into a job, right.
And that's allows us to better have better informed campaigns allows us to reduce any kind of wasted ad spend. It just allows us to also further focus, hey, maybe we don't want to focus on the resident. But the commercial we want to lean more towards right. And so looking at keywords and looking at what's actually producing those and duplicating those efforts, like doubling down and tripling down on those kind of efforts. Versus you know, just Hey, let's just show our ads for everything right. So and as what you were alluding to, to some degree there is like, you can show your ads for 15,000 keywords, but only a very few of them are going to convert, right. And those are the ones you really want to focus on. But without doing the whole system of tracking, you really have no idea. You're really just flying blind. And you're just guessing. Hopefully this works. Hopefully it doesn't. So yeah, hopefully that answered your question. Sorry, I tend to ramble a lot.
Joe Troyer 17:21
Oh, no, that's good. I definitely see a big trend in in the agency world of agencies that are successful, going deeper, right and, and really being able to not just stop at phone calls, right? Because we've seen that firsthand, right? stopping just phone calls, and hey, we got you the leads, doesn't leave the customer getting the result that they came to us looking for. Right, they came for revenue, they came for profit, not just phone calls, and we know that they have gaps, right? See the opportunities. And, you know, I think a lot of agencies have gotten lazy, just taking that top line revenue and not diving deep. So so it's refreshing to talk to people that that take it a step further or two steps further than that. And, you know, think through the phone calls and think through the tracking and actually making sure that what we're doing is providing actual revenue and profit for the for the company that we're serving.
Larry Hickman 18:16
Right? Well, that's what's gonna keep theirs their their techs and work. Right. So that's, that's one of the biggest things that we don't, we have an indirect influence on, right. Because in the industry, you know, staffing is probably the biggest problem that they face, right, in terms of getting the right person in the job getting the right production crew, getting the people that show up and do the work and, and etc, they're going into people's houses. So they have to, you know, be mindful of who they're hiring and stuff like that. So whenever you put a lot of time and effort into hiring, finding the right person and hiring them and training them, because there's a lot of training that goes on, you're sending out into people's houses, and you know, the whole nine yards with this, with this. And then if they don't work out, right, if, in two weeks or a month or three months here, you're having to let that person go. And that whole churn process really is a problem and that a lot if they don't have enough work, right? Yep, they don't have it. So this is where, hey, if you spend $10,000 on Google ads, but then you've only produced a few phone calls, and not enough work to keep that person busy, then you're, they're gonna have to go get other work somewhere, they have to put food on their table, right? And so it kind of escalates the problem. So this, it has an indirect function with that. But if we can track it back to revenue, and track, hey, this is exactly how much I spent and how much revenue I've gained. And we know that we're keeping those people in jobs that's allows you to build stability over the long term, right. And I'm proud to say we have a really good retention rate. A lot of our clients have been with us for over two years. And again, this also goes into diving deeper, we don't just want to provide leads, right? Because that's, that's just the icing on the cake in some ways. But once you have the systems and processes in place, and that's where we find a lot of opportunity these days is getting those systems and processes established, and then the lead generation just accelerates that, right. It's just like having a house on fire, right. Like if you have a house on fire. And you just pour more fuel on to it, the house is just going to burn out faster, right? Whereas if you don't have a system in place to, to handle those, it just, it just you're just going to burn the house down faster. So it's just not a good model. But you got to have those processes and systems in place first.And yeah. So it's Yeah, so diving deeper is usually a lot about, you know, finding out what processes they have to follow up to track the pulse to revenue to generate reviews, all those kinds of things. Yeah, yeah,
Joe Troyer 20:29
You said something there that I think is really important, too, for anybody looking at the restoration industry wanting to get into it or have customers in it that may, they may not realize that you said is, is hiring is difficult. But keeping the people is absolutely critical. And I believe in the restoration industry it's really hard for a lot of age, a lot of restoration owners, right? It seems like you know, it's either boom, or bust. Right? And having stability month in and month out is very difficult. Um, can you talk about that, in your experience? Like, have you found the same thing?
Larry Hickman 21:03
Yeah, that's our the biggest, biggest things that we hear is like, you know, obviously, people,
people want more work, right? And though, but there's a reason behind them, everybody wants to add more revenue. But really, the money is just the result of having proper processes systems, the right people in the in place to do this stuff. So again, if you hire someone, you put in all this time and effort to train them. And then they have to go away because you can't provide enough work, then you're back to square one, and you're doing this whole, you know, you're churning, you're doing this whole rat race all over again. So you really, it really this is that kind of inefficiency kills progress, like in terms of growth, right. So if you have to go back to the drawing board every two or three months, because you're not able to provide work for someone, then you know, they have to go out and find work for themselves, they have to go out and feed their family, if you don't have jobs for them that they don't come in today, we don't have any work right type of situation. And no one can live that way, especially in COVID is really highlighted that a lot, right? Like a lot of people been without work due to COVID. Luckily, in the restoration industry, they're insulated from some of that. And then with COVID, obviously, some companies that we work with, have training, specifically for disinfection, cleaning. So that's been a boon for them. However, you know, if you're in that situation where you're trying to grow, and it's always like a chicken before the egg, right, you kind of need to hire the person right before you need them. But then if you don't get enough work to keep them on, then it's a problem, right? So you have to it's a fine balance in there. But on that top line side of things to where getting more leads, again, is an important thing. So you can get more work so that you keep your team in jobs. But you also have to be again, following through with your process on that. So that, again, it turns into work. So the follow through and follow up is, you know, most restoration companies don't have a problem with that, in the sense of, if it's an emergency work, they're just Hey, how quickly can you get out there, right. But you know, other things like mold or other things like that can definitely need a follow up process where people need to, you know, get an inspection, depending on what state you're in. Sometimes you can do it, sometimes you can't different states have different rules about whether the same company can do the Mold Inspection as a remediation because of conflict of interest. But that being said, Sometimes there's a longer timeframe and someone may get get a quote or get an inspection. And it's not just all the emergency phone calls, right. So but without tracking it, you're really, again, be flying blind.
Joe Troyer 23:28
When you look at the water damage industry, I'm curious like what Who's your target? Right? There's, there's lots of water damage and restoration companies out there. I'm sure that you work with everyone. What have you found is your sweet spot? And why?
Larry Hickman 23:44
Yeah, our sweet spot, we really I personally like the people that are in the three to $5 million category. You can actually so most people when they get started, right? You know, the the ideal goal is, hey, let's make a win, can we make a million dollars, but if you're just doing mitigation work, right, you're going to need 400 jobs at say an average 2500, you know, to get there in a year. So that's what 33 a month, right? So it's a lot of work. I mean, granted, just going out setting up the equipment and picking it up when it's done that kind of stuff. But there there is a point to where to get beyond that million dollar range, you have to really focus on getting more into the construction site, because you can go and dry something out but then hey, they need drywall replaced. They need foreign replaced and things like that. So you have a transitional piece there. And then we find the ones the clients that are really growing are the ones that adjust to that, as well as again, we like that I like between one to 3 to 5 million. Especially when you get into that three to 5 million mark, you have that processes and systems because then you're dealing with multiple people, multiple teams, you probably have a crew of 10 or 15 or 20. You know, it's not just one guy and the two people that he talks to on his cell phone all the time, right. So there's different levels of business. We do prefer to work with people doing over a million even though we do work with some clients that are doing less than that. That's kind of our benchmark. That's what we really like. Because those are the people that are transitioning into, hey, we want to move into that construction side, which obviously can bring about a lot more higher end jobs, because a 2500, you know, dry out job can turn into a $20,000 reconstruction. So, again, the, the scale of things, you don't make as much profit on the reconstruction side, but it is just better volume in revenue, so and that's where he just normally do so many jobs. So based on the so that's typically what we find is like kind of progression. But we really like the million dollars, and we're in the 3 million to 5 million is, again, on a personal level, that's where I will work with people that are doing more than that. But usually those are multi location businesses, right. And that's another important point in this is, obviously most people are going to start with one location. But once you move out and branch out to different areas, you're going to have a secondary physical location that you're serving people out of, once you get big enough so that your region, that's the other way of expanding, right, it's just regionally like that. And multi location companies then obviously have a need for a variety of different things tracking for each location for which which you know, which spot is generating revenue, and how much and the efficiency of that marketing dollar in that particular area. Obviously, there's a whole SEO side of things, whenever you have to multiple locations, whether you have two different websites or one, like there's a whole thing that goes in the online marketing side of that, when you move into that multi location spot. But that's where we specialize to, you know, I would say, you know, a lot of our clients have more than one physical location. And so that's good. I mean, it's, we like those clients, because they, they have challenges and they have the need for systems. The people that are smaller do as well, they just don't realize it, and you can get away with just a just coordinating things on a phone call up and to a certain point, but then it trends to get into this point where if you don't have systems and processes, you can't go beyond that mark. Right. So yeah, I mean, that's we like to work with people who have a mindset where, okay, I want to go from a million to 3 million in the next two to three years, obviously has to be a realistic goal. You can't go Hey, I'm doing a million I want to get to 10 million next year mean that growth, you know that that happens, right? So so you but we these are the the buckets that we use the C's that 1-3 million, you know, and once you get above that 3 million to $5 million mark, your company has to change just due to the volume that you're going to have to do with re-construction.
Joe Troyer 27:38
if you were talking with a prospect, I guess one of the quickest ways to ask them what their revenue was, right? was potentially to ask them how many crews they had or right ask them maybe do you also do reconstruction? Right? What would you ask them besides just Hey, what's your revenue? Right on a first call?
Larry Hickman 27:54
So yeah, cuz right now, it can be. Yeah, it can be tricky, because obviously, the jobs can fluctuate, right? I mean, you know, you can have one job, that's $200,000. Right. And so Hey, that was a great month, but then it's not replicable, right? It's not, you know, that this is a one off versus the regular jobs like that. On average, water saving mitigation is about $2500. Across the nation, right? So going into whenever we're talking about this, we ask the volume question not revenue, because again, revenue can fluctuate with one job can be. So we're asked, hey, in volume, and then using their averages. So we'll say hey, well, what's your average, you know, mitigation job or water loss or whatever? Okay, is 2500? Let's just say for this example, and then what kind of volume? Are you doing? Oh, well, we're doing two jobs a week, or we're doing 10 jobs a week, right? That kind of tells me Well, let me know where they're at. So it's not asking the direct revenue question, especially on a first initial conversation, right? So that's a good way of kind of determining where they're at. You can ask about team, you can ask about crew size, and things like that. But volume and really where they want their volume to be because that's where it comes down to say, okay, where are you? What are you currently at over the past six months over this current year, whatever the case is, and then, you know, what, how many average jobs are you doing? And what is your average job size? That's the way of and then doing the quick math. Right? Okay, I'm doing 10 jobs a month. 2500. Okay, you're 25 grand a month, you know, multiply that out times, you know, you're doing whatever, 500 grand a year, or whatever it is. Right. So I think I did the math right.
So So anyway, that's just a quick reference. That's how we we look at it, but again, it's Yeah, I mean, that's, that's a quick and easy way of doing it. If you're just trying to ascertain Yeah, what revenue bucket are in what kind of systems may you may you have not have.
Joe Troyer 29:41
perfect so then that flows into like the next part of it. Like, I find that a lot of newer agencies, right, let's just get started do a really bad job of setting expectations. So when a client's you know, talking with them, and they're like, here's where we're at today. Here's where we're trying to go. They don't know how to fill that gap and they make promises, right that they can't necessarily fill. Right. So your experience in, in the restoration space? How do you set expectations properly that you know that you can hit or afford? Or that you know, that you can make come true?
Larry Hickman 30:18
Yeah. So I mean, granted, we have a lot of data, you know. So in on, I say, that's a big thing is like, the partner that you work with, really makes a difference, like we were talking earlier about being able to lead out and just reduce a lot of the wasted ad spend, right? That's a huge benefit. Because when you're running multiple campaigns, across the nation, and you're getting a lot of the click data, and stuff like that you you see trends of what works and what doesn't work, and you can test a lot faster, right, you can get through that data faster, if you're only doing one account and you're putting into perspective, let's just say you're spending $10,000 a month as a water restoration company, just your single location, whatever, that's what you're doing on Google Apps, right? So that's $10,000 a month in volume, and you're tracking that, versus, you know, like in $10,000, a month, 120 grand a year, right. Whereas if you have a team that's doing 3 million a month, you know, you get a lot more data a lot faster, right, it's gonna take you 30 years to accumulate the same volume of data that that you could do in one month, you know, working with the bigger team. And that's kind of what you get with us, right? That's kind of one of those those things is we track what works, we know what works. And we're continually adjusting our process and adjusting things based on all this data that we're getting in terms. So we know that for water, obviously, it fluctuates, where you're at, but we know we can deliver a phone call anywhere between 75 to $200, on average, is the range. Typically, the middle median range is about $150 cost per call. So with a $3,000 a month budget, for example, then you're looking at 15 to 30 phone calls a month, just I mean, you know, this kind of ranges in there, realistically, probably about 20 phone calls. Now, of course, not every phone call is going to be a perfect job, it's not all going to be Hey, we have, you know, two inches of water on your kitchen floor kind of a situation. And using that. And because we track this, we know that about 60% of the phone calls that we provide are turning into work for our clients because we're tracking, right, and the average job they water mitigation 2500. With that, we can know that, hey, you know, if we're looking at those ranges with a $3,000 ad spend, we can generally generate within 20 to $40,000 in in monthly revenue for you once the system is up and running. And it may take a couple months if you're brand new account or whatever the case is, but we know those numbers, generally nationwide, those work out again, because these are nationwide data, right? It's not, you know, specific areas or certain pockets of the country, like outside of Philadelphia, where I used to live in the media Pennsylvania area, they can get calls a lot lower, like I was talking about this one client we were talking about this is one of them, you know, they could get phone calls for 60 to $70 easily and get much more volume. And it's lower cost per call, just because of the area so that the area that competition obviously matters. in that kind of way, but we know with like a $3,000 ad spend, we can see 15 to 30 phone calls, depending on where you're at. And with that, so we can realistically say, Hey, this is where we should be. And then obviously, in a couple months, if we're not getting those numbers, then we can adjust our process to get in there, at least we would know. You know, it's just like anything else. You You have metrics that you're trying to hit to gauge your performance based off of. And if something's not working the way it normally should, then what do you need to adjust? Right? What do you need to? You know, so that that's our that's where where we can tell our clients very clearly hey, yeah, what's your thousand in ad spend? This is what we should expect. And a testament to us in the team, right? Obviously, there's a reason why a lot of our clients stay with us for many months. I mean, retention has been one of those things to where we've never had an issue with. In fact, I said, some of our minds have been with us over two years. So yeah, I mean, that just speaks to, I know, that's not normal, right? in the industry. So we definitely have a great, great thing that it's all because of the tracking. Because when you can prove hey, and that's one of the big critical misses that we see in the industry is if people aren't tracking, they don't know, hey, I'm spending $5,000 a month on Google ads, we're getting more calls. We know we are but we don't know was actually turning into revenue or not. Or we don't know what's actually driving that revenue. So if you have that issue, then yeah, you're flying blind, right? You can't make adjustments. You can't you know, you don't know what to adjust for. Right. So
Joe Troyer 34:34
I love it, man. Um, so here on the podcast, we love talking about systems and processes. And we really try our best to give the audience like something tangible that they could take with them right and that they can run with and that they can start implementing for themselves instead of just like this great back and forth banter interview, like we've had so far, right? Where they might just move on and they're like, yeah, that Larry guy was cool. He runs a water damage company, but they don't actually really get anything from it right. So, um, I want to make sure that we give everybody a process that they can take and that they can run with. And so I thought it would be cool if you could take us through the fast method that you guys have developed over at prosperity, PPC. And hopefully, that's something that everybody could then could take with them.
Larry Hickman 35:22
Sure, and I guess I'll do this, and maybe a couple different things. One, if you don't mind, I'll share my screen. And I'll actually go to one of our clients so we can see exactly what we're talking about. Because again, having a visual reference to something I'm just really quickly pulling it up here, as I'm talking about this, just to kind of go get some historical data. So you can see this. Because this is I mean, it's really important as to when you see it visually, it just makes a lot more sense, right? So this is one of our clients here, hopefully, you can see my screen here should say, Serve Pro Carrollton here. Right. Yep. And by the way, just for display, where I have their permission to share this, so like we talked about, we were actually just on the phone call with them. So our process really, it's, we're, we definitely don't set and forget anything, right, it's kind of really more the point with what we do, we're on a phone call with our clients every two weeks to go over the calls. So there's there's an accountability section that we have in here with our clients, where if we're going to be providing new leads, and we're going to follow up with those leads to make, see what converts because we need that data to do our job better, right. And it's in their best interest to do it. And a lot of our clients when we first start with them don't have full pipeline tracking, they don't like I said call in to revenue to invoice paid, right and knowing what's working what's not. So just to take you through here, this very highlighted, so historical data, August, September of this year, we had 21 phone calls come through this process, total of $53,405 in actual revenue, closed revenue was 25,000. Basically an open means that they're they send out but they're waiting to get paid. Obviously, if you work in the restoration industry, you know, sometimes negotiating with whether it's a TPA, or whether it's a insurance company, sometimes that takes a little bit longer depending on the size of loss and all that stuff. But so just to walk you through this, what we do here is a phone call comes in, and it's tagged with or because we do more than just google ads, we do Google My Business, SEO content, blogging, the whole nine yards, really a full stack of Google, what we track where the phone call comes in whether Say for example, like and this one came through Google Ads just a couple days ago, and they've already done the word youngness. Right. Or sometimes it just comes through Google My Business. So we're tracking him the phone call comes in. And then we're able to quickly and easily move this over to whatever stage it is. So if it, hey, we've tried the estimate, we're reading them to get back to us, and mostly emergency cases, they've already done the work by the time we get on the phone call with our client, right? So we get the phone call in, they're like, yeah, we've already completed the work, we've sent an invoice. That's what happened here, because this phone call came in, what two days ago, and they've already completed the work, they send out the invoice. Now next time we get on the call with them, they're gonna say, Yep, that invoice is paid or it wasn't. And if it was paid, we just move it over here. And this is how we can track these numbers of what actually turned into revenue and the dollar amounts for it. Right. So very quickly, for example, if this one turned into work, right, we can just come in here and just type in Hey, it was 1500 dollar value, or whatever the estimate was, right. But this is this pipeline is really important in terms of visually being able to see it and being able to see hey, exactly what call like what revenue because then we can track this back to
what led to that phone call and double down or triple down on reports there. Right. So that's, that's, that's a very high level way of looking at our process. Now within this, there's other systems and stuff like that for reputation management for review management. That's another challenge with any restoration company out there, because you do a good job and you help someone get back to good. But you know, then how do you generate those reviews, which are really important on Google My Business, and things like that. So with that in mind, we actually have a review system, I'll just open this up in a new link for the same customer to where a client can go in and leave in a review. So you send out this link to them. And hey, if they pick three stars or less, then you have the option of intercepting that to say, Hey, we're sorry, that experience was as good as you expected. And it gives them the opportunity to intercept that review. And it gives because a lot of times in this situation, a customer as you know, aren't going to always say it to your face or tell you hey, I'm upset about this or that maybe someone at the job site, they happen to leave something there and you know, they're at your house, you you know you you're as diligent as you can, but maybe you left something at the house and it wasn't cleaned up the way it should be right. So they don't always say that up front. But this gives them the opportunity to share that if they wanted to rate you at three or less. But if they say hey, yeah, it was great experience five, a we want to go out to Google, you can click on the Google or the Facebook link, and it'll take them directly out to Google or Facebook to leave that review directly. So that's another system that we provide within what we're doing. So that's a couple like Kind of high level systems that we're looking at, to where things that you need to have this in place, right, you need to have the call tracking all the way down to whether it turned into invoice, or whether it didn't turn into work, right, because, you know, a lot of phone calls that you get in aren't going to be perfect, right? No one, you know, I wish 100% of our phone calls led to jobs. But that's simply not the case. But as you can see from the numbers, a majority of them can if you're targeted properly. And really, it's more about in what we find our clients care about. It's not call volume, who cares whether we get 15 calls, or 30 calls, how much revenue, what they really want to know is, Hey, I put x dollar amount into my marketing, and I got x dollar amount now. And that's what we like to provide for our clients is, Hey, this is how much you paid. This is how much you got. It's for easy to then no Should I continue this marketing effort. Because ultimately, what we see is our mission is to provide clarity and consistency in their online marketing efforts. So that they can again, continue to grow their business and keep their teammates in work, right, either texting and stuff working. So without this numbers, you just don't know that. So that's a quick visual reference. I would like to actually mention one other thing here. I'll pull this up, because I was just looking at this right before our call here, to where a lot of people neglect this part with Google, my business is one of those things to where, you know, we see about two to three times as many phone calls come through Google My Business. And both organic as we do through Google ads. Google Ads has a lot more buyer's intent, though. So there's two different things. Even though you get twice as many phone calls, it ends up being about the same number of jobs, what we found out just through all the tracking them again, but this is something that people neglect a lot. When getting your Google My Business up and running is all is something that you absolutely need to do. But posting out to Google My Business, a lot of our clients don't even know you can post out to Google My Business. But posting out here sends a lot of good signals for SEO purposes, which helps with ranking and stuff like that, we do a process. This is again, one of our clients, where we, you know, there's lots of different things we do and posting regularly. But having this really helps, you know, especially even sometimes having images like this, where it's kind of like a quick ad, that's not an ad, these are all things that we do for our clients. But this is the one critical missing piece that we see a lot of times if someone does that I'm doing my business, you just, you know, a quick excerpt, like a little thing of just like a quick little content piece really helps with your Google My Business rankings. So that's another thing that people can take away is start pushing Google My Business if you're not, I mean, it's, again, it's not difficult to do and it's free. So it just takes a little bit of time. So it's well worth the effort to do that. So hopefully, that you know, I'm happy to go into anything in as much detail as you would like. But hopefully those are can provide someone with some key takeaways of having a tracking system, having a review generation system and and also pushing out to Google My Business. So those are the three things that that I would say.
Joe Troyer 42:50
Beautiful. So is that the kind of legs of Okay, perfect. Is that kind of the main legs of the fat system? Right, the the revenue tracking or job tracking? GMB? Yeah. And then the social posting and reviews, I guess, three or four things depending on how you seg that.
Larry Hickman 43:07
Yeah, so that's, uh, yeah, so. Right. Yeah. So it's obviously about, you know, whatever lead generation for sure. Let's just use Google ads for the example of Yeah, generating the leads, how are you tracking the leads? And then how are you turning that into a review and, you know, getting more reputation out of it? Right. So the fast method does all of that not only do we do that lead generation, but we track the, the calls, what turns into revenue, and then we generate reviews, because it's, it's a whole system of how it works, right? That's what ultimately drives more business is, hey, we had someone come in, they had a great experience, we share this other people that allows other people to see it, and it just flows that way, right? So you have to have the complete process, a lot of people are missing one or two of these pieces. A lot of times we find it's that call tracking side of things that is missing, or sometimes it's the reputation management side of things. Sometimes, again, obviously can be that they just don't have a good process on the Google AdSense things in this particular scenario. Or if it's content, maybe they're not consistently pushing out for content. So yeah, there's there's a lot that we could get into about, you know, there's a lot of critical misses that are out there. I would say the two that that are prominent that lead to the others is one not having systems and processes, and to not having the right mindset about what it takes to do online marketing. Well, a lot of times we'll get into a situation right where people will or we talk with, with business owners and hiring, as we mentioned, very important, but what they want to do is hire one person to do marketing for them, not necessarily an agency but internally, right, this is where a path a lot of them go is, hey, we're hiring someone, and they may be paying these looking at paying this marketing person 15 $25 an hour on the high end 15. Usually $20 is roughly right around the average, but they expect them to have all the skills necessary that it takes to to do well on online and unfortunately, it's multiple disciplines that it takes Right graphic design is a different skill set than writing blog content or anything like that, which is different than integrating different software's and technology together, which is, you know, different than then understanding and keeping up with the changes of the platforms like Google and Facebook, and all this stuff that changes, all right, that's a full time job just to keep up. So and that leads to lack of consistency and efforts, especially in the restoration space, where you may get a phone call any minute, you're out in the middle of writing a blog post, or you're trying to do optimize your Google ads, or whatever the case is, right? Like the teammate that's supposed to handle this, they're generally speaking not going to have the, the expertise that that a team adds, right. And we have multiple people on our team that handle those specific disciplines together, right. We have graphic designers, we have content writers, we have people that integrate software and technology together, right? It's not just me sitting here doing doing all this myself, right. And just like our, our clients have to have teams that do the production that Do you know, handling the phone calls and do the marketing and do like the variety of things we do to right, we're a business as well. And the consistency of effort really comes down to if you get a phone call, if you have one person doing XYZ, one having the skills, the multiple skills for these disciplines, usually one person can't do it. All right. I mean, if you can find someone that can do all these things together, just refer them over to me, I may be willing to pay them more than you would. So I mean, seriously. So. But I mean, whenever you're really looking at it, the end, someone who has that much skill and discipline in this kind of thing is going to going to command more than 15 to $25 an hour in the marketplace, right? Because they can I mean, I'm willing to pay them more than that. So other people will be too, right. I'm not the only guy out there that's looking for people that have multiple disciplines like that. So the the, so you really can't find one person that has has that skill, right? And even for example, if you're paying them $15 an hour, right? Even if they did, for some reason, have all those skills and could do it. What did they call in sick, right? What if something happens, and you know, so having a team is really important in terms of, you know, you don't have to worry about someone calling in sick or things not getting done whenever you have a team effort in place. And that again, goes back to the consistency of effort regularly putting out content regularly optimizing your Google ads, you know, not just looking at it once every three months, but looking at it on a week to week basis, right. And that's one of the things that we're doing is we have for Google ads, for example, we have people looking into the account every single week to optimize it. That's how you stay on top of it. That way you don't go three months and realize, hey, over the past two months, we've been spending our ad spend in effectively, and it's just wasted money, right? Because it just that problem just grows. So you want to keep keep it really narrow, really focused and having consistency of efforts. But again, if you come back to only one person in your office is trying to do this, then that person falls out. Something happens in their life, whatever, whatever it is, then those things get pushed off and sometimes forgotten about. And that leads to neglecting, you know, the work and that snowballs into less calls and less revenue and etc, etc. So,
Joe Troyer 44:14
I loved it, I think you gave some really practical advice there breaking down the fast method and things that every agency can do that minimum effective dose, so to speak. It's not complex, it's not hard. Everybody's meeting with their clients everywhere at any time, you know, every two weeks anyways, just the system that you've put together I think is is really simple, yet really, really powerful. And usually those two things don't go together very well. So you can tell that you've been doing this for quite some time.
Larry Hickman 48:35
Right? Yeah. Well, we like it. So pays our bills, too, right? I mean, I love working with water restoration. These guys are salt of the earth people normally they're out there helping people out whenever they have some crazy disaster that happens. And even if it's not a crazy, you know, Hurricane thunderstorm or whatever, like we've seen down in on the gulf coast of Louisiana over the past, you know, a few weeks, even if it's just Hey sprung a leak, or I was on vacation, I came back and I don't know the dishwasher line, leaked, whatever. So it doesn't have to be like a crazy emergency. But still, they're helping people out. I mean, yeah, it's we love We love knowing that we're providing jobs to those people to their teammates, and we're helping the local community to get back to good after something does happen. So we know, the economic effect of and I wasn't so I mean, that's, that's why I like working, like you said, you know, my uncles, they were working hard I was usually had my summer job was helping them out. So you know, I have a deep respect for for the kind of work that they do. So I want to help.
Joe Troyer 49:40
Cool brother, I really appreciate you coming on adding so much value, man, I know that everybody's gonna love this episode. I want to wrap this up. Instead of asking you to recommend three books, which I feel like is like what everybody does, like what are your favorite two or three books at the end of an interview or podcast, we do something a little different here on Show me the nuggets, I want to ask you, what's the one book that you feel like has made the biggest impact on the way that you do business? And why?
Larry Hickman 50:08
Probably the one thing because keeping focus is a big thing, right. So like, I think that's just the primary lesson for anybody. And that's in our work. Again, when we're talking about multiple disciplines, multiple different things, there's 100, things that come at us every single day. And most people have that in their business. Digital Marketing, online marketing is definitely that way. I say keeping up with all the changes all the stuff that's going on. But what really helps me and how I've implemented this, and I, I'm not going to take 100% credit for it, because I actually got this from a mentor of mine, Alex Szalinski, and his wife, Sharon Szalinski be sharing this with me, is a daily focus. And this ties into the one thing, right, because it's basically kind of the same idea. I learned about it from them first, and then reading the book, it really kind of tied it in or submitted it in my head. But on the days that I, at the end of my day, I focus on Hey, what is the 123 things because depending on our work, right, we may need to get three things done tomorrow, right, but even choosing one thing that's most important to get done the next day. And it's important to do this the day before, not the day up, because then if you're doing it the day of the morning up, which some people recommend doing, but I always say it's always worked better for me and doing it the night before. Because the day of then I'm playing the game of what do I not want to do today? Right, versus making a decision of Hey, what I know, I need to get done for the next day. So focusing on that one thing every day that absolutely needs to get done has been important. And you know, to drive move, whatever it is, whatever that next step is to move whatever it is the next move the needle on that next thing that's that that focus is really invaluable. So I think that's the biggest thing in terms of productivity in terms of moving the business forward. That that's probably had the biggest impact for us. And for me personally just trying to live as awesome as my business life on my calendar, I have it every day on the calendar is, you know, set my daily focus of one thing that I need to accomplish. And on that point, we have to, it's important to block that out on the calendar, right? Because like, Hey, I have dedicating this time to doing this thing and no phone calls, no text messages, turn off Facebook, turn off everything and actually focus on getting this one thing done, and moving it forward as much as we can. So and if it doesn't get done, it becomes your focus for the next day. Right. So so that because you know, that's the important thing that needs to happen. So, yep, the one thing is a great book. I'm trying to remember the guy because I noticed the guy from Keller Williams I know. Gary Keller's Gary Keller. That's what it was like, I know the names right there. Yeah, yeah. Well, that's a great book. Right. So
Joe Troyer 52:40
yep. fantastic book. And I love your little tip. I, I definitely see like, I set my three things for the day. But I see it. I set it every morning. Right. And I definitely can be guilty of procrastinating or letting some of them slide. Right. And oh, yeah, this other thing has to be done. You know, so I got an angry back. So I love the tip of doing it the day before the night before
Larry Hickman 53:06
the night before really helps out. Because Yeah, I do the same. I think we're all guilty of that way we look in the morning. It's like, you know, Brian Tracy says Eat That Frog. Right? He has that thing. So which is, which is the case, but so it's deciding the night before what frog you're going to eat? And I just find that helps three, you know, removes you from the in the moment. I don't want to do that today. Right? Because we all have things that we want to do that day. But that kind of gives you that that distance from like, what do I need to focus on tomorrow? Okay, that's what it isn't so, versus playing the game of, you know, what do I not want to do? So, yeah,
Joe Troyer 53:43
Larry man this is this has been great. I really appreciate you coming on the show. If a podcast guest wants to reach out to you or somebody listening to the show, and connect with you maybe on social media, where are you most active? Or were you usually spending your time when you do? Treat yourself to some social media time?
Larry Hickman 54:00
Yeah, right. So um, yeah, you can go to my Facebook as just a Larry Hickman, you can find me there. We do have a business page prosperity PPC, as well, my website, www dot prosperi. ppc.com. Obviously, you can find it there. You can, there's a contact thing there. But, you know, a lot of times it's just reaching out on a phone call. I will you know, that helps a lot. I'll give you my phone call, or phone number. If anyone's interested in working with us. Obviously, we're happy to have a conversation and just see where you're at. really determine where, where you want to go and see how we can help you out. So my direct phone number is 610-222-5653 so you can reach me out. Reach out to me there.
Joe Troyer 54:41
This has been great. I really appreciate it. I know everybody's gonna love this episode. Thank you so much, brother. Stay safe. Stay warm up there in Alaska. Man. We're going into winter. You're making me shiver
Larry Hickman 54:52
we have around now, man. Oh, yeah, right. Ice and snow. It's been here. So yeah, good.
Joe Troyer 54:59
So I do I do an ice bath every day, man. I just like walk outside and lay in the lay on the ground and be good. I made the move to Alaska. There you go
Larry Hickman 55:08
right. outside. Go Go check the mail once a morning and you'll be good.
Joe Troyer 55:15
That's so great. Thanks so much for coming on the show man. super thankful to have you have a great day, man. Stay safe with everything happening in the world right now. Joe Troyer.
Larry Hickman 55:24