The first guest ever on To The Point has returned, and Ken Goodrich once again brings a masterclass of wisdom and knowledge to help you succeed in both business and your personal life. There has been a lot of transformation in the home services industry, and Ken’s world is no different. In fact, Ken has made leaps and bounds not just in business but in his own life as well, and he’s here to help you understand how you can do the same for yourself.
Something to understand about Ken is that he was born and bred for this industry. From holding a flashlight for his dad as a child to learning how to troubleshoot air conditioners shortly after, not a day of his life for the past 50 years has gone by without him talking or touching HVAC. His success is a result of this dedication and hard work, no doubt, but Ken found in the last few years that he was out of balance. He was putting everything he had into the business, and like any small business owner can relate to, the other aspects of his life were suffering.
On Thanksgiving morning of 2019, Ken got on a scale and didn’t like what he saw. Seeing 325lbs ruined his thanksgiving, and he decided that he needed to do something. He started walking, watching what he ate, and slowly but surely started to melt the pounds away. By the time COVID hit, Ken was down 30 pounds. Like many of us, Ken put on his COVID 20 (pounds). He was still unbalanced, and the strain on Ken and the business grew deeper. He reached out to some industry friends about how they overcame challenges in their lives, and was re-inspired. He stopped drinking wine every night, put his air pods in again, and started walking even more. Every meeting, every day, he was walking around. He set a goal to lose 90 pounds, and as of walking into the To The Point, Ken has met his goal.
It took a lot of self-examination, looking at who he was and what he wanted, but Ken is all the better for it. He’s happier, more content, and finding himself connecting better with the people in his life. His marriage, his faith, his relationship with his kids, and the business are all seeing the benefits of Ken’s transformation. But, as Ken points out, there real work starts now. He’s hit his goal, and is focused on the next steps. If you’re at the same point as Ken was either in your personal life or in your business, there are some key components to transformation that Ken has used to great success.
In business, Ken has made transformations plenty of times. He’s taken dozens of failing businesses and made them successful overnight, and the formula he uses for this is exactly what he applied to achieve his recent personal transformation. It’s something psychology refers to as disruption thinking. You have to figure out how to get yourself or your business to take a left turn. Ken has walked into a business on the first day with a trash can and told everyone to throw away their price books! When Ken was sitting on the couch feeling miserable about his weight, he did something he’d never done before to change up his normal routine. He saw an advertisement online that while looked a little hokey to Ken, he bought it anyway just trying to make that left turn.
This self-help program that Ken bought, called IAMACOMEBACK, was Ken’s first personal purchase online ever. It was a program with a manual, and helped Ken start setting goals for journaling, fitness, self reflection, and quitting drinking all together. In putting in the same amount of effort he would into a failing business, Ken used this disruptive tactic to make a positive change in his life.
It could be reaching out to a consultant, or purchasing a system for your business to help get you started, but you have to do something if what you’re doing isn’t working. Obligate yourself to make a change and get out of that rut. It can be simple, and Ken points out that each time you accomplish a goal—no matter how small— it allows you to take the next step. It’s called “stacking wins”, and Ken is stacking wins every time he can to see how far he can get in this world.
At a very young age, Ken was already troubleshooting air conditioners. This is a very systematic process, and it goes all the way down to the failed component. Ken understands the process, and was wired to understand it. If he has a plan and a schematic, he’ll get it done. That’s why when he read the original E-Myth book, Ken had a schematic for business that he continues to use as CEO of Goettl Air Conditioning & Plumbing every day. This system is called The 7 Centers of Management Attention, and are leadership, management, money, marketing, lead generation, lead conversion, and client fulfilment. In having processes for each of these key components to a business, Ken has a repeatable system he can apply to each business he acquires, sells, and runs.
Whether you’re just starting a business or looking to turn the corner on what you already have, Ken recommends prioritizing these 7 Centers. Ken does this at each of his 7 (and soon to be 10) locations, and has created a checklist based on the finer points of the 7 Centers. His team goes right down the checklist, and is able to pinpoint exactly what he needs to do, how to do it, and who should do it.
The first and most important thing is leadership. Struggling owners have struggling businesses, and visa versa. You are the leader, and you set the tone for your entire company. You are the key to the vision, the mission, and the core values of your team. You are responsible for establishing your company identity, where you’re heading, and what it’s going to look like when it’s done.
This also extends to your people, especially in management. If you don’t have the right people, you can expect to get where you want. Ken has had great success hiring outside of the industry for management, and is always looking for talented people whether or not they have the typical industry resume. He refers to The Peter Principle, a management philosophy developed by Laurence J. Peter. Simply put, people have limits, and will rise to those limits; not beyond. If you continually hire internally, you may at some point stall due to the limitations of only drawing from your current talent pool. Don’t be afraid to venture outside your normal purview to find talent that can help take you to the next level.
The three fundamentals of small business are lead generation, lead conversion, and client fulfilment. Naturally, these three subjects are integral components to the 7 Centers. Ken suggests starting with client fulfilment first. Get together a list of the things you’re going to sell and build a process for how you’re going to fulfill each contract when you get one. At Goettl, there is a training center for each project. Before going on a job, the technician has to disassemble and reassemble each product and fully understand the product before going out in the field. Start simple and master the process.
Next, you’ll need to move into lead generation and fulfilment. Ken shouts out RYNO, which we’re humbled by, but the main point is that you’ll want to have a trustworthy and dependable way to generate and convert leads.
You’ll have to develop a sales system. The good news is that every business system is available to buy. You can join best practice groups, go online and search, or ask around and see what other successful companies are using. Pick one and go!
When you have a sales system and quality control in place, you can take those leads and know exactly what you’re selling, your margins, and your money-making process will be in place. This will allow you to focus on the finance side of your business. There are systems available to purchase for this as well. There are even 3rd parties that can virtually track your payables, deliverables, payroll, and more.
Now you’re able to generate and close leads, and money is flowing in. What’s next? You probably want to focus on management, and all of the people in your business. Again, there are best practice groups and companies that can help with this. Get your management system running right. This includes keeping your people happy, creating a culture, and driving towards your vision.
Marketing is where most people focus off the bat, especially when starting a new company. Marketing isn’t lead generation, but rather your brand. What is your logo? What are the colors, and why are they what they are? Who are you, and what does your marketing say about what you’re about? Ken would never spend time and money on the brand before the other systems are in place.
Everyone loves to start here with their logo, business cards, and van wraps. It’s exciting! However, if your other systems are in disarray, you’re throwing money away. The last thing you want is your shiny logo and brand to be associated with anything less than 5-star service and products. The other 6 Centers need to be in order first.
Ken isn’t stopping at losing 90lbs or 7 locations. Transformation is a continual process of setting and crushing goal after goal, and Ken has many wins he’s lining up to stack in the future. Personally, Ken is also setting a goal for a six-pack stomach at 60 years old. In business, he’s focused on Goettl-izing North America, continuing to grow the Goettl brand into a coast-to-coast service brand. Things are going to continue to change rapidly, especially in our industry. Ken envisions a near future where air conditioners will be able to diagnose themselves, there will be a subscription to the manufacturer, the manufacturer will decide which contractor to send out for the repair, and the price will already be set beforehand. Contractors aren’t preparing for this type of future at all, but Ken has his sights set way in advance. In fact, he has a goal to still be a part of Goettl and personally address the team on February 18th, 2039, when Goettl will hold its 100th anniversary.
Ken’s been through it all, and loves to give back. His currency is helping others, and is always excited to share his wealth of wisdom with the industry. If you’re struggling to make significant changes in your life or business, find the disruptor. It could be finally buying into a new system, kicking down a wall to get that remodel started, or finally starting to cut down on what you eat. If you’re struggling, take a step back. Fools rush in, but a wise man will make a plan, work through the process, and build your business and life on granite, not sand.
If you’d like to connect with Ken and learn more about him, you can visit his personal website.