To the Point Home Services Podcast

The Home Services Podcast That Gives Back

Episode 111: Service Einstein Building Blocks for Contractors

March 15, 2022

Episode 111: Service Einstein Building Blocks for Contractors

Published: March 15, 2022
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Landon Brewer may work mostly out of the spotlight, but he is by no means in a shadow. “LB” has been through many considerations, successfully grown many companies, and served in the home services industry for decades. Contractors and industry members may know Landon best for the group he founded a few years back, Service Einstein, but he’s been involved with some of the biggest companies and names in the space. That includes To The Point superstar Ken Goodrich and Goettl, Service Experts, ARS/Rescue Rooter, Eaton, and more.

We sat down with Landon to pick his brain about his storied career, why he feels the home services industry is in the midst of a “renaissance”, Service Einstein, and what contractors need to know to be more successful each and every day.

A Non-Traditional Entry to the Trades

Unlike many in the trades, Landon doesn’t have the typical technical or mechanical background. He wasn’t born into the industry, and his family doesn’t run an HVAC company. In the early 90’s, Landon was working as a financial analyst. He had dreams of being a dot com millionaire, but that bubble burst. Landon would find himself going back to grad school and looking for a path forward.

Around 2000, Landon answered an ad in the newspaper for a confidential company, and headed to the interview out in Clayton, MO. This group interviewing him turned out to be the group that took Service Experts public. While they had plenty of smart trades people, they were looking for someone with a financial background. It was a need to look at financials, analyze them, and build out some models. Landon listened to their plan, and was very impressed. That was the start of his journey through the trades 20 years ago, and he’s loved it ever since.

Building Systems and Processes

Landon was an integral part of building systems and processes for Service Experts. While he was initially brought on for his financial background and expertise, he continued to learn from the best and documented everything. As the company grew and became Clockwork Home Services, Landon continued to focus on the best practices side of things. He also taught their financial classes, and would work his way up to be a director of the SGI group.

Landon ultimately oversaw affinity groups and worked with contractors every single day. He truly loved being able to help contractors transform their lives. He had the opportunity to teach them how to better their financials, price things correctly, best practices, and so much more. Then, it was witnessing real growth and success that gave him tremendous satisfaction.

Over this time, he built a pretty extensive network of contractors throughout North America. After Clockwork Home Services, Landon helped build a contractor network for Eaton, did plenty of independent projects, and also partnered with his partner for the last 15 years, Ken Goodrich.

Building Businesses

Landon was interested in writing a modern software service for the trades. He wrote up a 40-page business plan, flew out to see Ken, and they started to talk about what it would look like. By the second meeting, Ken said “I don’t know anything about software, let’s go sell some businesses”. So, Landon and Ken did just that! Around 2006, the pair sold their business to ARS/Rescue Rooter. Landon had moved out to the West Coast, and taken up operations for ARS/Rescue Rooter. Ken and Landon were growing up their disparate business, keeping the delta between where they were and where they took them. This was a very successful endeavor.

The duo and rest of the team involved in this project went their separate ways for a bit, and Landon wasn’t quite sure what to do. His wife had found a job she loved back in St. Louis, so they moved there. Landon found work for Jerry Kelly, a well-known HVAC company in the area. Jerry Kelly had been considering a rollup of their own, and wanted help getting several companies operating using the same business practices, procedures, and softwares.

After one winter in St. Louis, Landon was ready to move back to the sunshine. He called up Ken again, and the two worked together again on a regional play out in California. They had plenty of success there growing the business organically. Before long, they took on a private equity partner to expand that business. They acquired more businesses, and repeated the same process. Now, they have just completed a recapitalization and took on a new PE partner to do even bigger things.

Maximizing Shareholder Value

Landon has done plenty of things, but it’s always centered around one key thing: dedicating most of his resources to monetizing the business, maximizing shareholder value, and taking the business to the next level. He believes that whether you’re an owner, a manager, a partner, or any other part of a business, you have one true goal. That is to maximize shareholder worth and the value of that business. Whether that means selling the business down the line, keeping it in your family for generations to come, or just bringing the most value to the table, that’s what you should be doing.

While working alongside Ken Goodrich at Goettl, Landon was doing exactly that. He was looking at figuring out how to change and move the needle forward. It was big picture stuff like bringing in the best general managers in the country, negotiating the best dealers with suppliers and dealers, and just partnering with the best people possible. How do you connect all of these things to expand a brand and grow value?

This meant a lot of traveling and connecting with people, which Landon has been doing for many years. Everything culminated in December of 2020, where they had one of the biggest exits in industry history. There were some records set, and Landon has started to transition out and let the next generation of people take over. What is really cool for him is that a lot of the people they brought in worked hard and just became multi-millionaires. It was special. These days, Landon is semi-retired and looking at ways he can make a positive impact on the industry. That includes attending more conferences, being involved with Service Einstein, and whatever other opportunities come his way that make sense.

Untapped Billion Dollar Potential

Whether you’re at 200 thousand in revenue or 200 million, Landon sees contractors as billion dollar businesses. As Landon wasn’t born into the trades, he had the advantage of seeing them differently. He sees these companies as being billion-dollar entities that just haven’t taken the right steps.

Landon has seen net profits at 30%, he’s seen high average tickets, and he’s seen high closing rates. He’s witnessed individual branches doing 50 million dollars. He knows it’s possible, and the best part? We have all of the resources we need. Now, not everyone wants that for their business and their life, and that’s perfectly fine. But for Landon, he did want that, so he aligned and surrounded himself with people that shared in that vision.

People are put on this earth to build and grow. That can be in business, with your financials, your health, or any other aspect of your life. Every day, you should be looking to advance. This is how civilizations were grown, and Landon encourages everyone to think in a similar fashion.

The Future of Best Practices and Contractor Model

So, how do we build a business that reaches its true potential? To The Point listeners, especially those that recall Ken Goodrich’s episodes, will know it’s a lot about the right systems and processes. That is essentially what the industry best practices are. From suppliers and OEMs to distributors and more, Landon has had contacts in the industry for many years. He’s also done some consulting stints with companies including Honeywell, among others. He has watched as our best practices model has evolved over the years, and that evolution has been minimal at best.

Throughout the 90s and 2000’s, our best practices model didn’t change all that much, However, the last decade or so has seen some advancements. Whereas before we had some books and papers and watching people on stage at conferences, we now have chat rooms and forums, social media that makes many people more accessible, virtual training, and a lot of other new opportunities. When Landon started out, he can remember hearing about the importance of a cool Yellow Pages ad. Now, it’s about being at the top of the SERP; engaging your audience.

The newer model will only continue to evolve to be less traditional. We’re seeing SaaS and comfort as service models, for example. CRM technology continues to improve, and technology like monitoring systems for HVAC equipment and online booking mean a lot of new things are on the horizon. If you haven’t evolved your business, KPIs, and your best practices model, you’re still running your business like it’s the 80’s.

Industry Renaissance

Landon uses the term “renaissance” to describe the home services industry right now. He believes that it’s the best time ever to be in the space! Everyone has a chance to do amazing things right now, and some of the growth rates we’re seeing are unprecedented. Some of the younger guys are growing 30 and 40 million dollar businesses quickly, where historically the same feat may have taken decades.

There is access to capital currently that is fast and efficient. If you have a business that you’re scaling up and want to exit, multiples are record-breaking. Technology is also a big place of opportunity. Anyone in that space that can find ways to increase productivity and profitability in the industry will see success. All this, and the wave of private equity is smarter than ever before. The wave in the 90’s was not nearly as focused, and wasn’t nearly as prepared as now.

Whether you’re an owner, an OEM, a technician, or play any other role in the industry, Landon believes we’re not in the midst of a consolidation, but a renaissance. The industry is still fragmented, and Landon feels that this current consolidation phase is probably only in the 5th or 6th inning. There is still so much left on the table. Even then, someone will have to consolidate the consolidators…

Service Einstein

Landon is more focused than ever on giving back to the industry. He’s looking more at our evolution, best practices, and how he can help elevate contractors and make their lives better. He has no interest in starting a new best practices group or training organization, but after his last exit, he was trying to figure out what he could do. That’s how Service Einstein was born. It’s a private community that exists on Facebook, and started out really as just a collection of the people Landon has gotten to know in the industry over the years.

They started out talking about best practices, how to scale and change the model, and be innovative. The group has grown steadily since its inception, but Landon has stayed true to being selective about who can join. Our space is hot right now, and there are a lot of sharks who are in the waters trying to pitch themselves as the next hot guru or consultant. Landon is making sure that Service Einsteins members are legitimate people who know what they’re doing and talking about.

The group has been a big hit, and it’s both an homage to, and proof of, the things that made Landon and so many others fall in love with the industry. It’s full of people who open up their doors and share freely. There’s competition, of course, but it’s usually friendly. There is so much knowledge sharing across our space, and everyone has something to teach and to learn.

Service Einstein Prime

Having this large group of contractors made Landon realize that he had an ecosystem. He was thinking about what he can do with this group on a larger scale, and decided to plan an event. That’s how Service Einstein Prime came about. It’s meant to be an affordable event, and will have industry experts in every area. This event will be an all-day affair, held on Mar 18, 2022 via Zoom. You don’t even have to travel to learn “The 5 Summer Season Strategies You Must Implement in Order to Maximize Your Demand Season”!

There will be lots of content delivered, actionable items, and experts including Louis Bruno and Victor Rancour to impact your business. All you’ll have to do is commit to doing the work and showing up! If things go well, Landon plans on holding many more of the events in the future. We’ll see you there!

While closed to the public, you can find the Service Einsteins Facebook group here. You can also reach Landon at 310-919-2209, or by email (preferred) at [email protected].