Featuring Liz Patrick
Intro: Welcome to Profiles In Prosperity, the leading podcast for residential service contractors, sponsored by Service Roundtable and hosted by David Heimer.
David Heimer: Hi, this is David. Before we get into today’s episode, I want to say thank you to Daikin Comfort Technologies for sponsoring this episode. You know Daikin, right? They manufacture Goodman, Amana, and Daikin HVAC equipment. One of the many reasons I like them is that they support private labeling. If you’re in our industry and you haven’t considered offering a private-label brand, you should. It’s a great opportunity to differentiate yourself in the market. If you’re interested in that, just contact us at Service Nation and we can help you create a powerful brand and a private label. And when we do that, we’ll recommend you use Goodman or Amana products for your private label. Give it some thought. And big thanks to Daikin Comfort Technologies for their support.
Hi, this is David Heimer, and Welcome to Profiles In Prosperity. This is going to be a particularly fun episode for me because I get to interview one of my all-time favorite colleagues, Liz Patrick. Liz is now retired from Service Nation. She retired last year. When she left she was vice president of Strategic Alliances where she led our partnership programs and Roundtable Rewards. She is the person that built that up from nothing to where it pays out millions of dollars every quarter to Service Roundtable and Service Nation members. Before she retired, Liz was recognized with a Service Nation Servant Leader Award. It’s the highest honor that can be given in our industry, and Liz was well deserving of that. She has contributed so much to our industry and so much to the contractors in our industry. So Liz Patrick, welcome to Profiles In Prosperity.
Liz Patrick: Thanks, David. It’s a pleasure to be here.
David Heimer: Let’s go back to the early days of Service Roundtable and tell us how you got into our industry.
Liz Patrick: I kind of feel like I was in the industry sort of, at least had a foot in it before I came to Service Roundtable. For most of my career, before I came to Service Roundtable, I sold Yellow Pages and that’s very much of a B2C environment. And I worked with hundreds of people who were trying to do exactly what residential service contractors do, reach homeowners to gain their business, to develop a relationship. I retired from that and moved to Texas and that’s where it becomes kind of a little bit of a funny story. Matt was my daughter’s soccer coach and he was surveying the parents after practice one day for a marketing piece he was creating for Service Roundtable about Yellow Page usage. I told him he didn’t want my opinion. I used to sell Yellow Pages and I was right. He didn’t, but he did want a salesperson. At that time, I didn’t want a job. I wanted to stay home with my kids. It was the first time I’d been able to do that. But I also didn’t really find that I was enjoying cleaning my house. There’s the truth for you. Matt offered me a lot of flexibility and just enough pay to hire somebody to do that which I didn’t want to do. We agreed to a three-month trial and that was in 2006. And as you said, I finally retired last year. So I think that’s a really great illustration of one of Zig Ziglar’s maxims that you can get everything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want. And Matt helped me and I think I helped Matt and it was a really good relationship.
David Heimer: You certainly did. You created a great program, not just for Service Roundtable but for all the members and all the vendor partners as well. It was really fantastic. And it’s an interesting point, I guess I thought about it a little bit over time, but your experience with Yellow Pages really paid off with your experience with contractors, didn’t it?
Liz Patrick: It did, and I think it points to the fact that life skills can transfer across many, many industries. It’s about building relationships for the kind of business that we’re in. Service Roundtable has always been about helping contractors and that appealed to me, but that’s also what I tried to do with the Yellow Pages. It is about leaving it someplace a little bit better than you found it and you hugely benefit when you do that for other people. I firmly believe that.
David Heimer: So what do you remember about the early days of Service Roundtable?
Liz Patrick: We worked in a very, very small house. It was really kind of a shack by the railroad tracks. The first day I showed up for work, I beat you there by maybe 15, 20 minutes. I didn’t know that I was going to work for you, that you were going to be my boss. Matt had just kind of failed to mention that.
David Heimer: I hope it wasn’t a horrible disappointment.
Liz Patrick: No, it’s just a bit of a surprise. Compared to the corporate big company thing, moving to work for a four-person company was kind of a bit of a shock, but it was really fun. We were kind of freewheeling. I brought my dog to work, we’d go out and throw the ball. The place where we worked was so small that I sat in the kitchen and you guys kept coming in to get coffee. I made you wait for lunch if I was on the phone. But that sense of building something and doing it the way we did it meant that ideas flowed really freely. It was very collaborative and I think all of us were very engaged in what each of us was doing to try and help the members.
David Heimer: Yeah, it’s funny when I look back on that time, it was a period of some uncertainty. We weren’t certain that this company would grow. I mean, I felt like it would, but you know how it is when you’re starting off a company. But I don’t really remember the uncertainty. What I remember is the tremendous amount of fun we had. You were in the kitchen and we’d go in there and get some coffee and stop and chat with you for a while and then at lunch go throw the ball for Savvy your beautiful Poodle. I love that dog
Liz Patrick: Me too. The other thing I remember is when we finally started hiring people, the first thing that we did was teach them about Service Roundtable by making them repeat it back to us. Matt would walk in the lunchroom, you would walk in the lunchroom and it’d be like, “So tell me about Service Roundtable” until they got it down. It was over and over again. That was part of the culture and the immersion of it so that everybody was an expert in what we provided. When you get big, you get siloed a little bit.
David Heimer: Yeah. Those were fun. You’d walk up to a new salesperson and you were always supposed to ask them the question, “Why would I want to join Service Roundtable?” And then they have to echo it back to us.
Liz Patrick: Yeah. But you think about the people that are still there and they can still do that in their sleep. And it’s an important thing to know.
David Heimer: Yeah. So after a few years, we started Roundtable Rewards. Tell us about the history of Roundtable Rewards.
Liz Patrick: Matt had already set up something called the Expo Hall and it was basically kind of just a directory of listings of vendors who were willing to share their contact information. But they kept calling in and I was answering the phone and they wanted to be more involved. It looked like a real opportunity for another revenue stream because at that time, being in the Expo Hall was free. And you have to remember, I’m a salesperson and I’m fundamentally opposed to giving something away for free that has value. So we tried to think about what we could do differently. First, we rolled out the marketplace, which allowed them to engage a little bit more. It was just individual web pages where they could promote their products and services and we put some parameters around how they could interact and participate. And then the next year, which would’ve been 2008, you guys were instrumental because you and Matt brought on Lennox and Goodman and that was kind of the beginning. That was the real nucleus. Once we had that in place, we changed the marketplace to the Roundtable Rewards program, asked the vendor partners to provide rebates and paid out the first ones in 2009. I think the first tracking we have showed that we paid 69 members something just over $74,000. I don’t remember that, in terms of, you know, I have to go back and look at the numbers, but I really remember how much fun it was to get the first check that was over a thousand bucks. We celebrated wildly.
David Heimer: Yeah, I remember that too. That was a big deal.
Liz Patrick: Yeah, it was.
David Heimer: It was funny because now, look, I appreciate any check. One over a thousand dollars of course I still appreciate, but it pales in comparison to the millions of dollars that we pay out every quarter to our members.
Liz Patrick: It does. And like anything, it was kind of an uphill battle for a while. We flirted with the first million-dollar payout in 2014, but we didn’t actually hit it until 2015 and it’s never gone below that since then. It’s now like you say, millions of dollars to thousands of contractors every single quarter. And that’s pretty rewarding to watch.
David Heimer: Do you remember there was a Comfort Tech? So I was comparing and contrasting these two Comfort Techs. We went to one Comfort Tech and we were trying to talk to vendors and they were sort of interested and we could get some traction with them. But what I remember was the next year, we had vendors lined up to talk to us. It was back-to-back meetings the whole time. It was just crazy how everybody wanted to get into Roundtable Rewards. It was so much fun.
Liz Patrick: It was fun. And that’s a testament to what Service Roundtable and Service Nation Alliance does for contractors. Because the only reason the vendors want to be part of it is because of the contractors we bring to the table. And they’re willing to pay the rebate because our members grow faster, they are better contractors, they’re better customers and they want that kind of contractor tied to them as a customer and tied really tightly. And that’s what the rebate program does. And then the contractors, why are they going to quit if they’re getting a rebate? Why are they going to stop using that vendor partner? So it’s a win for Service Roundtable but it’s a win for the vendors and the biggest win is for the contractor.
David Heimer: Yeah, it’s an amazing, immersive, synergistic thing, isn’t it? The different parts feed off of them. We have contractors that join us that want to grow. Because they want to grow and they follow our programs and use our programs, they do grow. That causes vendor partners to want to partner with us so that they get access to those really great contractors. The contractors get rebates, which is also one of the reasons that they join us. They find those rebates very attractive. So this thing just kind of feeds on itself and grows and grows. But it is, as you’ve said, it’s a win for absolutely everybody. It’s a huge community of people, vendors and members and us and consultants, and it just feeds on itself and keeps growing. It’s amazing.
Liz Patrick: And the other piece that I don’t think we ever talk much about but is important to it, and it’s a wonderful side benefit is that it’s a relationship. The vendor is no longer just a vendor. They’re a preferred partner and the way they interact and the things you see happening at our meetings between the contractors, the contractors and vendors, vendors, you know, that whole thing becomes more human. It’s not just a transaction anymore.
David Heimer: Yeah. And at the end of the day, it’s so pleasurable to see the growth that you get out of it. I’ve seen contractors certainly grow from nothing to huge multimillion-dollar operations and I’ve also seen vendors grow in this program. We’ve had some vendors that were pretty small when they joined us, but through their affiliation with us, they ended up doing really well and that’s fun to see.
Liz Patrick: Exactly.
David Heimer: So you have been in our industry a while, you’ve observed a lot of contractors, you’ve seen contractors be wildly successful, you’ve seen some fail and you’ve seen some struggle. What are your top three recommendations for residential service contractors?
Liz Patrick: Well, I think the obvious one is what we’ve been talking about. Join a group. Preferably join a group with a rebate program and then use those vendors. There are lots of things vendors can do for you besides sell you things. Maybe it’s providing training, maybe it’s co-op that you can use to attend SEMA, or something else other than just promoting their brand. Maybe it’s a replenishment program, maybe it’s a stocking program, maybe it’s just swag for your employees for Christmas bags. But they should bring something to the table. More than that when you join the group is participate and be involved. For 16 years, I’ve watched contractors help other contractors. There really is no secret sauce and there is no point in learning things on your own the hard way. Beyond that, each of us knows something that will help somebody else. So while you’re benefiting from learning from other contractors, there’s somebody out there that needs to know what you already know. It goes back to that win-win-win. So join a group.
Second would probably be never to compromise on your values or ethics. Frequently when people fail, it can be tied back to something or they cut a corner or did something differently. And you never have to remember what you did or said if your moral compass always points the same way and your measure of right is always the same. You sleep a lot better at night that way.
David Heimer: Good point.
Liz Patrick: Third is, and I don’t know that it’s tied to the second, but it would be to never forget that we’re replaceable, particularly at work. We’re replaced pretty quickly. People will miss you and I certainly miss my day-to-day interactions at Service Roundtable and I feel very blessed that the friendships I’ve made will transcend work. But the people who love you are the people who can’t replace you. And we tend to treat those people worse than we treat the people we work with or we interact with socially. And at the end of the day, I don’t think anybody regrets that which they didn’t do at work. So invest your time with the people you love just as much as you invested in growing your business. They’re sacrificing something for you to grow that business as well.
David Heimer: Wow, that’s really good. That was not what I expected, but that’s really good. Good advice. And that’s one of the many reasons I enjoyed working with you so much. You always come up with high-quality surprising things, so thanks for that. So I got to ask as I am starting to wind down things here at Service Nation, one, how are you enjoying your retirement? And two, do you have any advice for people who might be leaving their company?
Liz Patrick: Advice for somebody who might be leaving their company? I wish I had taken it. One of my resolutions is to do more, reach back out. When you have more free time than somebody else does and they’re busy, it helps to say, “Hey, want to have lunch?” And I’ve started doing that and that’s really fun and really rewarding because you want to keep tabs on what’s going on and enjoy watching it continue to grow without us. Am I enjoying it? It is absolutely awesome. I haven’t made a dent in my project list yet. I’m doing things that I haven’t done for years. I’m reading more and we’re traveling more and even cooking more. So I’m not bored yet and I don’t think that somebody who might hypothetically be leaving their company will be either.
David Heimer: All right. Well, thank you for that. Well Liz, thank you for doing this with me. I really appreciate it. I have certainly enjoyed working with you all these years. You were fantastic to work with and this has been fun to reminisce with you. So keep in touch and good luck in the future as well.
Liz Patrick: Likewise, same to you. Thanks, David.
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