There are lots of companies that grow to 1MM, and might even see 5MM. However, it’s rare to break from that 3-5MM range. It’s even rarer to see 10MM and beyond, and to do so profitably and in just a few short years is an incredible feat. That’s just one of the reasons we had to welcome our guest, Jason Henderson to the To The Point Podcast! Jason is President of BEST Air Conditioning Plumbing and Repair, out of Las Vegas. His 5-year story of building his HVAC and plumbing company from 0MM to 15MM is one that will resonate with many of our listeners. So, how did Jason manage to grow his company so well and so fast? It all starts out with understanding and executing on the fundamentals.
About 20 years ago, Jason was working the Las Vegas strip in the food and beverage industry. He was working his way up the chain – all the way from dishwasher – but wanted to make a change. Taking a shot in the dark, he responded to an ad in the newspaper for a “No Experience Needed – Duct Cleaner” listing. And that’s what started his career! He worked his way up from duct cleaning to HVAC installs, then service, and eventually sales.
Jason found out quickly he had a knack for sales. He wasn’t doing anything fancy, but rather just hit on the fundamentals. He was communicating effectively with his clients, building trust and rapport, and then closing. By 2017, Jason and his wife Kassandra – also in the industry since 2008 – decided it was time to think about something bigger. In August of that year, they took the plunge and decided to start their own company. A few days after opening the doors, reality hit. Despite over two decades of collective experience in the industry, they didn’t know anything about running a business.
Early on, Kassandra and Jason were trying to figure out how to enter their market in terms of pricing. Kassadra was thinking that, in order to compete, they’d need to come in as the cheapest option just in order to compete. After all, Vegas is an extremely competitive market for heating and cooling. They were limited in their understanding of marketing and lead generation, so Jason knew they may only have a few customers a week. Knowing that, Jason decided they would need to go the opposite direction and price higher, not lower. Kassandra wondered, how are we going to be one of the more expensive options if no one knows who we are? Jason replied, “no one’s going to know who we are if we’re the least expensive, either.”
“No one’s going to know who we are if we’re the least expensive, either”
Jason knew that no matter the price point, they needed to show up like professionals, deliver professional products, and deliver products like professionals – even if it’s just the two of them. And that’s something they can do. Having a higher price point from the start allowed them to start growing and being profitable. Of course, they didn’t know quite how much they were making because they still didn’t know anything about business at the time. But that foundation of being a high-value company and not the cheapest option was what allowed them to charge out of the gates.
By 2018, Jason and Kassandra took BEST from 0 to 2MM. In 2019, they hit 3MM. In 2020, they jumped to 5MM, and in 2021 they hit 9MM. This year, they’re on pace for over 15MM! Jason points to consistency being the key. They didn’t do anything “fancy”, and still don’t. Their team simply executes really well on the fundamentals. You need to be able to get leads, so your marketing has to be on point. You have to be able to perform well once you get those leads. And you have to know you’re being profitable so you can continue to grow. It’s about creating the steps to get to where you want to be, and then nailing the fundamentals. So, what are the fundamental keys to growth Jason is talking about?
Early on, Jason had this thought that was bothering him. He was starting this awesome company, but what would happen if he just died tomorrow? It’s not fun to think about, but how would things shake out? His wife and team would be left to pick up the pieces, and he didn’t want that to happen. So, he sat his team down and explained his concern. The solution? They set a goal to document every single process and standard in the company in 3 months. This was in August, and by October, they had is all 100% documented. Everything from how service is done and what the expectations are for each role to how call taking is performed, sales, and management. Everything was written out!
This is essential for any new business. It’s equally as important to get right no matter what stage your company is in. Jason points out that these are still living documents, of course. As you scale and things change, you might have to make some tweaks here or there. But having everything documented out means there is a clear standard for how everything needs to be done.
As mentioned before, pricing was integral to the early success of the business. A big part of your pricing strategy needs to include a good understanding of the numbers, though. If you understand your costs (i.e. equipment, labor, etc) and you have numbers you want to reach, then it’s not about what other people are charging. It’s about what you need to charge in order to meet your goals. Jason makes it clear that he isn’t in business to lose money. So, they set their pricing up in a way that made profitability possible.
Another big piece early on was networking. What set Jason and his team apart from other newer companies was that they were able to set aside their ego. Jason know he didn’t know anything about business, so he networked. He went to networking events and asked questions. He met other owners with great companies and learned what they had to say. Not only that, he implemented what he learned. Host Chris Yano talks about it all the time, the “95/5”. Only 5% of people will actually take what they learn and implement it. Jason is part of that group!
Jason is big on seeking out things that he doesn’t know, and that proved invaluable to his success as an owner. You only know what you know, and you don’t know the things you don’t! After starting his own company, Jason actually went out and grabbed a copy of Accounting for Dummies. They’ve been able to stay ahead of things by learning from other people and reading lots and lots; focusing on education. As Jason puts it, it’s much better to prevent fires from happening than to put the fires out.
It’s no surprise that having a great management team is one of Jason’s keys to success. What might surprise you is that the majority of his team started with no management experience. They did that thing people say don’t do – they took their best technicians and CSRs and turned them into managers. What they did differently was trained them really well, communicated effectively, and introduced them to things they needed to understand. They also had the ability and potential to be great managers to begin with. Jason took god people and provided a lane for them to continue to grow. He utilitzed outsourced management training and best practice groups, and his management team is all aligned with the goals, vision, and core values of the company.
While recruitment remains a struggle for many in the trades, it hasn’t been for Jason and his team. Jason credits this with a few things, and it all goes back to those fundamentals. They have a great social media presence that gets their message out for technicians, CSRs, and installers to see. It looks great, and it’s because they are great! They also pay really well. About a year ago, they hired an in-house recruiter. Jason feelsl that recruitment is a full-time position and shouldn’t be just lumped in with the other responsibilities of management.
They don’t take everybody that reaches out, and aren’t looking to take from other companies. Jason is looking for great people that are a great culture fit. He says it’s simple: you pay really well, treat people really well, give them a lane for growth, and recruitment is no problem.
Jason understands that he’s nothing without his team, and he treats his employees in kind. They provide all holidays off and paid, and that includes non-federal holidays like Black Friday and Christmas Eve. He knows that his team wants to spend time with their families. BEST even gives paternity leave in addition to maternity leave! Jason didn’t get to spend any time with his family when his kids were born, so it’s great for him to be able to provide that for his team.
There’s also no on-call and no more than five days of work per week – something that certainly wasn’t the norm for Jason when he was a tech. And while it’s not all about the money, his team gets financially compensated really well. His lead installers are clearing 100k/year as well as his technicians. At the end of the day, he really cares about his team, and they work hard to move the company forward.
Jason believes in a pretty simple formula when it comes to getting where you want to go. You start with where you want to be and work backwards, implementing steps and executing on the fundamentals. Financially, that means creating a budget. This year, his team is on pace for 15-16MM. Because he understands his numbers, that tells him exactly how many calls they will need, what their performance needs to be, and how many techs he needs to run those calls. They know how much they pay for equipment and labor and sales, they know their goals, and so they understand what they need to do to be profitable. Then, they rely on professionals like RYNO Strategic Solutions to help bring in those calls and they rely on it.
BEST Air Conditioning Plumbing and Repair has been over 25% profitable every year since it was founded, and Jason isn’t slowing down. They’re just going to keep putting their head down and doing what they do best. That’s being a highly rated company that delivers great products and great service and executes at a high level on the fundamentals.