February 25, 2020
Tersh Blissett isn’t your average business owner. Instead of following the beaten path, Tersh has blazed forward in multiple directions, taking advantage of technology, data, and all of the tools at his disposal to create several successful businesses. We have a conversation with Tersh to find out what sets him apart from the herd, and find out what has made him wildly effective in all of his ventures.
We first met Tersh at a CEO Warrior event, but he’s well known in the industry for his podcast and success growing and running businesses. He’s accomplished so much in the trades in such a short amount of time and the way he’s done it is so unique that his opinion is in very high demand. He’s not only proven that a remote service model can work, but he’s taken a failing business and turned it around, gone from an installer to GM of a company in a few short years, and spends time networking with leaders in the service industry finding out what makes them successful to help others grow and succeed as well.
Tersh joined the Air Force shortly after graduating high school and just after 9/11, and after serving was looking for some work to earn some extra money to fuel his passion for cars. A friend put in a word for him at an HVAC company, and after an interview, he found himself a gig as an installer. It only took him two years to become GM of the company, and in the five subsequent years with Tersh as GM, the business went from 1.1 to 8 million dollars—in the middle of the recession.
He attributes his success to being extremely numbers and data-oriented. Tersh always payed close attention to KPIs, and by implementing technological tools like spreadsheets to track performance and automate processes was able to maximize his value. By tracking the details and optimizing operations, the service department went from a loss leader (very common in the trades) to making enough overhead under Tersh as GM to cover the operating costs of the entire company.
If there’s one thing Tersh isn’t comfortable with, it’s complacency. After 5 years as GM, he found himself in a position where there just weren’t enough problems for him to solve. It’s a common theme with many of our guests, and Tersh shares in this powerful, constant drive to continue to push himself in new directions. He fancies himself a “wartime general”, and thrives in chaos.
Whereas many would be perfectly fine being a successful GM, Tersh left the company he helped grow to start his own business in 2014, and that company grew between 90-120% each year, using the same metrics-focused operation and incorporation of technological tools to optimize the business. This still wasn’t enough for Tersh, who seems incapable of satisfying his thirst for pushing the envelope into new territory, and he started a podcast to share his experience with the public.
Listeners of Tersh’s podcast wanted to know how on earth he was able to grow a business so fast, and instead of simply talking about it, he walked the walk. Tersh bought up a failing HVAC business; one that was in heavy debt and completely in pieces. He took this second company and once again applied his process of automating everything, using data and technology to maximize the efficiency and profitability of the business. That company—Icebound HVAC— is now in the black, and is undergoing rebranding as a money-maker for Tersh, undergoing the name change to Service Emperor this year.
One of the most interesting ventures Tersh has pioneered is the remote service model for the trades. By using mobile storage units and an advanced inventory management system, he’s bypassed the traditional brick-and-mortar HVAC model and managed to find success without a storefront.
It turns out you don’t actually need a building to run a service company, but there are of course some problems Tersh has faced with this model. Without the daily physical interaction, it can be hard to cultivate a culture, and maintain accountability with his team members. To combat this, Tersh uses what any millennial would: technology! From video meetings on Zoom to constant communication through Slack, he’s able to stay in touch with his employees without ever setting foot in an office. He’s even utilizing virtual reality training to find ways to further integrate technology into a century-old trade to infuse it with newer levels of efficiency.
There’s plenty more in the podcast to listen to, and Tersh goes into great detail about some of the useful communication tips he utilizes in his businesses to prioritize all of the plates he juggles on a daily basis. You can listen to Tersh on his popular podcast, Service Business Mastery, or find out more about his transformation of the trades at The Blue Collar Roots Media Network.