Rich Jordan: EOS operating system, the book Traction.
Guesswork: I know the basics of that. Like I've sort of read summaries of it, but I don't know like specifics of it.
Rich Jordan: So let me- because Josh, I don't think you and I've talked about this, I'll run through what it looks like for us a little bit. So we call it our weekly leadership sync. And this is not going to be a perfect L10. So EOS freaks out there, don't throw rocks at me. But-
Josh Schultz: Rob Labonne is going to be on the phone breaking this down after.
Rich Jordan: Yeah, Peter Lohmann is going to be coming for me.
Josh Schultz: Welcome to Ops Talk, where we record the conversations of real operators discussing the problems they are working through and the strategies they are using to work through them. Today, Rich Jordan, Guesswork, and myself discuss meetings and cadences and how to get your team working together. I am so excited for this conversation because it is crucial in running a successful operation. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.
Alright, synchronous or asynchronous meetings, are they even needed at all? I think it changes for all companies at different sizes and different stages. But yeah, this will be fun to dive into. I'm hoping to learn something myself and refine. Every time I talk to Rich, I usually refine my way of looking at the world and I’m excited to hear Guesswork since he's in a different stage as well. So yeah, so Guesswork, what are you looking for as far as talking about sync, async?
Guesswork: Thanks for making some time for this. But so this came from the idea that, so I bought a trade contractor, like a home services one, pretty classic self-funded search deal. And we have no meetings as a business. Literally zero. We don't even have a space to do meetings. It would be almost awkward to have a one on one meeting somewhere. And so, I want to start instituting some kind of check ins with some of the key employees. We don't really have a managerial structure per se. Like, I've got direct reports, I've got one or two are like quasi- they are like crew leaders, but they're not really like- they don't view themselves as the managers of everyone else. And so those crew leaders would be great to do check ins with, but I don't really know how to begin instituting some kind of a weekly or bi weekly check in process that would be organic and feel useful to them. And just like do it in a way that's not really weird and is actually useful for everyone. So I think that's where this sort of started was sort of how do I even begin instituting some of that?
Josh Schultz: Rich, you were pretty hard start, like you didn't really move into it. You just like started it, I think, a few months ago. So you probably have the closest insight into what goes from not having that meeting to having that meeting.
Rich Jordan: Yeah, to clarify, we've basically been running our kind of meeting cadence for a year at this point. So like April, I think, yeah, like April of 2021 is when we started. So, we operated for a while, like Guesswork does right now. I guess, it'd be like eight months, seven or eight months where we didn't have any sort of standing meetings or anything like that. It was really just kind of like what I imagine it looks like for you, where it's like guys show up to the shop in the morning, kind of like slap hands, push out the door, go do your job, here's where you're going, here's the things you need.
Guesswork: Especially with our shop or like the yard isn't actually where the office is. So like most of the guys I literally don't see all week until Friday when they come to get their paychecks.
Rich Jordan: Okay, because you're operating out of the sellers house right now, right?
Guesswork: That’s right. So that's going to change. I have a new office, so that'll become a change soon. But the new office will still not be where most of the trucks are parked. Like we'll have a lot more shop space, which is great, but the trucks will primarily still be parked a couple miles away. And so the guys, like their schedule is basically show up at the yard at 7, leave, they get back to the yard around 3, 4ish, and then they go home. Like that's the day. So even like trying to plan a meeting would be like, okay, let's aim for 3:30pm. But some days they finish at 2, and then it's like, okay, now what? You know what I mean? And so that's what I'm sort of- it's like weird logistics mixed with like a culture that just doesn't involve meetings.
Josh Schultz: Is there any like reporting cadence? Are there numbers coming up to you daily? Are you pushing down what everybody did? Any kind of even async?
Guesswork: Yeah, I've set up now some KPI dashboards for myself, but I haven't shared those with anyone yet.
Rich Jordan: So as far as kind of org structure, I think org structure has a lot to do with this as well. Are those- you have two or three crews with crew leaders?
Guesswork: I have two crews. I have two crews and like three crew leaders who kind of rotate based on who's working that day.
Rich Jordan: Do those crew leaders report directly to you, or is there some sort of manager in your pocket as well?
Guesswork: They report directly to me.
Rich Jordan: Okay, got it. So maybe it makes sense for me to talk through what we do and why and like high level what we're trying to achieve with our schedule. And then, we can figure out what maybe that looks like for something like your company. So, for us, we basically have three categories of standing meetings that we have. We have our daily huddle, we call that our sit rep, our situation report. And that's at the management level only. So that's me, the GM, and right now, this is only happening at Garon T. This is like- we are still attempting to install this at Sanford, which is the new HVAC company. So, we're talking strictly Garon T here. So, that's me, that’s the GM of Garon T, that's the call center manager/dispatcher, and that's the service manager who oversees the field staff, daily. That’s every day at 9am that we're coming together. And we have like a very tight job cycle. Like we have, there are certain times where we have a call come in at 11am, we're going to run that call at 1pm. You know what I mean? So we have a very tight job cycle. So, we find it important to be making sure we're all on the same page, working towards the goals for that day every day, just basically like chopping wood. And then weekly on Tuesdays at 2, that same crew, that same managerial leadership crew meets at 2pm each Tuesday, and that's like where we get better. That's where we grow. And that's basically like a pretty- that's pretty close to your standard Traction EOS Level 10 meeting, same kind of flow, same sort of six or seven whatever it is, kind of categories that you're working through.
Guesswork: I don't know, what is a level 10 meeting? I don't know what that is.
Rich Jordan: Yeah, sure. So EOS operating system, the book Traction.
Guesswork: I know the basics of it. Like, I've sort of read summaries of it, but I don't know like specifics of it.
Rich Jordan: Yeah. So let me- because Josh, I don't think you and I have talked about this, I'll run through what it looks like for us a little bit. So, we call it our weekly leadership sync. And this is not going to be a perfect L10. So for EOS like freaks out there, don't throw rocks at me.
Josh Schultz: Rob Labonne is going to be on the phone breaking this down after.
Guesswork: Pun intended with rocks.
Rich Jordan: Peter Lohman is going to be coming for me. So for us, like our first kind of category, Yeah, there's seven kind of things that you're working through for the L10. It starts with a kickstart. And that's, for us, we talk personal and professional wins from the past week individually. And that can be anything. Anything's fair game there, just kind of basically just like getting people warmed up for the meeting, get to know each other a little bit, especially for us, where we're like kind of hybrid remote and on site, it's pretty helpful for us to get to know each other and everything, particularly over the course of a year. Then we have like our scorecard, which is our kind of weekly metrics that each one of us is responsible for, and we're reporting on those. And then we have our goal review, which is kind of like our more long term horizon goals. And generally, this stuff in the scorecard is going to feed into our achievement of the long term goals, how we're pacing towards those. Those two sections, that's where like I've taken some liberties on the L10. I'd have to go back to the book to tell you exactly what it's supposed to be, but that's basically how we do it. Then we have call outs and shout outs. So that's kind of like I think EOS calls it headlines or something like that. And it's just like quick snippets, a shout out for- shout to these two people on the team for doing this last week, great job, call out, like this guy screwed this up. A lot of times those call outs will then fall down to a section that we'll get to in a second. We'll then review any to-do list items that came out of the week before for any of us. And then we'll drop down to issues. The guys refer to this as IDS, identify, discuss, and solve. And this is like the real meat of the meeting. This is where we truly get better. This is where we've developed processes or kind of began to develop processes. And essentially, identifying problems, like hey, we dropped the ball here, how do we make sure we don't drop the ball on that going forward? What can we put in place, what like workflows could put in place, processes, policies, what needs to be communicated to the field team, and stuff like that so that this doesn't happen again. That's basically where all the sausage gets made is in the issues section. And then there's just the conclusion. And EOS will tell you like a conclusion is like review the to-do list and add anything to it that came out of the- particularly that came out of the issues, any like cascading messages that need to be communicated to the team, and rate the meeting. All the participants in the meeting like rate the meeting on a scale of 1 to 10 and like how we can improve it going forward. So that's basically the L10 meeting that we run through each week.
Guesswork: Got it. How many people are in that?
Rich Jordan: That's four. So that's me, again, that's like me, my Garon T GM, service manager, and the call center manager.
Josh Schultz: I got a question. How are the metrics that you're covering in that meeting being assimilated? Are they being gathered throughout the week? Are they kind of like everybody's supposed to put those in the day before? Like, how does that bubble up so that they're available for everybody at that time?
Rich Jordan: Yeah, they're- just kind of logistically, we do that in a Google sheet. So, it's like a new tab every week. And there's like spots for those metrics to go in on a Google sheet, like super- It's like low res. You know what I mean? It doesn't have to be sexy. But yeah, it's just whoever's responsible for it pulls the data out, mostly out of our CRM, and plugs it in prior to the meeting starting. Some of us are better about doing that the night before, five minutes before, during the meeting, but it happens one way or another.
Josh Schultz: Do you think you could get all or most of that accomplished async? I guess maybe a better way to word that is, what would you lose if you did that async? Of course, you could make it happen. What would you lose if you went to async?
Rich Jordan: Yeah, I mean, so like the- Yeah, everybody can receive the report with everybody's metrics async. But like I said, the real meat and potatoes of that meeting is the issues, the identify, discuss, and solve part of the meeting. And yeah, could you do like the Jeff Bezos Amazon thing where everybody like writes up a page, everybody reads it on their own? Sure. I don't know that the- not everyone on my team is like geared to do it that way.
Josh Schultz: Yeah. I mean, this is not Amazon for a lot of reasons. And we have to build our company to not need to be Amazon but still run and be profitable.
Rich Jordan: Yeah, so I mean, so really the synchronous part is like, hey, this is screwed up. How can we fix it? I might not even know how to fix it. Like, this is fucked up. How do we make sure this doesn't happen again? Like sometimes there'll be- people are maybe expecting me to like put out a solution. I don't have one. So, like what is it? Let's jam on this, and we will jam on it. And we'll either figure it out right then or like somebody has a to-do list item or an action item over the course of the next week to come back to the meeting with a solution, or at least with a part of a solution. So, that's how we've like- I'm like a broken record here. But that's like how we've gotten good. Anything that like, if anyone looks at Garon T and goes, those guys do things right, it's through this iterative process every week, we're figuring out how to do stuff right. And the daily sit rep, I think on our first podcast, Josh, I called it my secret sauce or whatever, that sort of is. I mean, that's like both of them. They daily sit rep is just like where we're just like chopping wood. Like we're just getting after it. We're making sure we're on the same page, we're making sure we're hitting our revenue goal, hitting our calls ran goal, syncing up on just like random shit that we need to sync up on for that day for a particular client or whatever it is. But the weekly meeting is where we really get better and improve.
Josh Schultz: I'd like to share my version of what you just shared, Rich, for CaneKast, that might help Guesswork. But then I also think what would be really helpful is to hear from Guesswork what he's experiencing that tells him he needs to move in this direction. Because Guesswork, you first posted something online asking about this. Obviously, you feel something in the company, either a disconnect or a misalignment that said, hey, I'm missing some piece, I need to start thinking about meetings, sync, async, etc. And I think you expounding on that would be really useful for anybody listening that might be going through it saying like, oh, this is how I solve that weird feeling I have or that issue. So, I'd love to hear that. And then, yeah, so I'll share my version of Rich's just to complete the thought. So, we do something similar. We have just implemented a daily meeting. And we also have a weekly main meeting and then a monthly strictly finance. It's just me, Reg, Eric, and Nickie for the financials. And what's interesting is we're similar to Rich, but I think Rich started with a framework and iterated back to what worked best for him and the team and what they needed, basically got rid of stuff that didn't make sense for them or wasn't adding value, added some things that did. I always meant to do that. I have the Traction book, I just never got around to doing it. And we ended up just throwing the meeting in there and then adding things that we needed. And so, we iterated to almost the same spot. So it's interesting that we came from two sides and kind of came to the same structure. And so, the first thing that we did was our weekly meeting. And this was because we were having problems that we weren't finding out about in the plant. And so having this set time where the plant manager could say, we keep running out of this, or the furnace is acting up and that's why our mold count is down, like just those things that for whatever reason, they don't tell you about. And then you're like, why are we down 20% of the month? Oh, our furnace has been broken since week two. You are like, why didn’t you tell me? Well, the meeting gives them the opportunity and the reason to do that. And so, we call it our bottleneck meeting, but it's basically an ops meeting. It's hey, what is stopping you from moving forward with regard to facility, with regard to labor, and with regard to equipment, the big three areas that keep us from moving forward. And just asking that general question every week bubbles up continual new ideas, new investments, new fixes, new hires, and it does it on a weekly basis rather than like once every month or two, when a problem happens to show up in the numbers. So that started there. And then we had to add because we realized we were basically reacting to problems. So, all of a sudden, a guy would say like, I want to go somewhere where there's some kind of advancement. And I'm like, hey, we're doing tons of advancement. And I mean, the guy that said that recently, we actually took somebody from his exact role at another plant and made them plant manager. So not only is their advancement, literally, his role was the last person to be advanced to plant manager. And I realized that was my fault. I wasn't telling people what was happening in other plants. And so we added key company updates, which I think Rich said is one of his categories as well – hey, big high level, here's kind of the exciting things that we're doing. Another thing to help drive the team together to make it fun, competitive, is we started reviewing all the different plants numbers together in that meeting, Superior’s month over month mold count is 10%, Ermak is 15%. And just those couple of metrics, same thing, we use Google Sheet, no need to make it more complicated. It's just an easy thing to share and for everybody to add to. So, we share those. We share open positions. The purpose of open positions is to let people know that there is advancement. So one way to do that is to tell them. Another way is to actually share, hey, we're looking to hire a pour guy down in Missouri. Now, nobody might actually want to move to Missouri to be on the pour deck. But they're aware, oh, they're actually sharing this company wide with all the different plants. And it just gives them this mind that there's advancement, and it solves that issue that I had to react to two months ago. We share big wins because we want them to know that if they get- like personal big wins, we want their names to come out, get recognition. I think that works better than even bonuses a lot of the time, just calling people out for really crushing it and doing something well, especially when they experiment, they fail, and then they figure it out because that's the whole culture change we're trying to do is it's okay to fail, but I also want to recognize the win after the fail. And so that's basically our weekly meeting. I gather all that stuff, I share it with the plant managers, they share with their people, and then we also talk about the bottlenecks. But we were still missing this soft area of accountability or alignment. I don't really know what the right word is. And so we just implemented a daily meeting, and Rich, I think you called it a kickoff where people were coming in, and they were leaving, and they would come in 20 minutes late and 30 minutes late, and they might stay late too. But nobody's communicating. And there's just this weird misalignment and stuff just drifts, and before you know it, you're like, I haven't talked to this guy in four months, and oh my god, he just quit. Of course, he quit. He doesn't feel like he's part of anything. You just totally dropped the ball on the guy. So, to fix that, we started doing daily huddles. And the daily huddle is really just about mold numbers from the previous day, the patterns that we're going to be working on today. We might go over a couple of issues like oh, this machine's leaking oil, so we're not expecting as much out of that machine today, or this job is more important, we're going to move it up. What I told the managers is it's not really about what you share. It's just about having it. And so, the reasons that I wrote down to them that we're going to do this is accountability, connection, unity, alignment, keeping them informed and part of the community, and creating a little bit of competition. And I think those are the things. It's not so much what you share daily. It's that you're sharing stuff daily, hey, we're part of something, we're going to kick off together. I'm working on this, you're working on that, we're all going towards the same goal. And again, I'm really rehashing a lot of stuff Rich already said; there was a lot of key phrases that you used. And so if you take all that stuff that I just said, and I love frameworks, so what is the framework for when a sync meeting is a good idea. And it comes down to two that I can think of that I've seen. When you need alignment, so we did the same thing in Mexico. We did the same thing at Chess Group, been doing this forever. We didn't have permanent daily meetings. But whenever it felt like the teams were drifting, we would do three or four weeks of a daily meeting. Like let's just meet every day, talk about what's going on. It just gets people back in like, okay, we're moving. We're a team. This is an actual business. This isn't just like a daycare that I show up and drift around at. And it always got people back on track without having to discipline anybody. Just having that meeting was like just an automatic realignment for myself and them, got us all in touch as a team. I think permanent is probably better. But we just did it temporarily to realign. I think alignment. Like I said, accountability, connection, unity, I'm wrapping all of that up into alignment. And then the second thing is when there's discussions to be had. So, like you said, Rich, that's when Garon T moves forward, as your ideas, as your discussion. For us, that's when we're tackling equipment. Like, yeah, we could have an async discussion about equipment, but it's much better for all the stakeholders, myself who's looking for ROI and efficiency and productivity, the manager who has to deal with the downtime and the OT, Eric who's got to deal with the mold count, like everybody has different reasons, Nickie who's kind of handling the finance side of it. And it's good for all of us to have the discussion together in the open to discuss the best ways forward to fix these bottlenecks. And so complex discussions that have different perspectives and alignment I find are two great reasons for a sync meeting, just sharing information, just passing tasks, just updating people are horrible reasons for a sync meeting. It can be the what, but it can't be the why. So, all that said, I'd love to hear Rich's take or shred of what I just said. And then also Guesswork, what is it that you're missing that you feel like this is going to solve?
Rich Jordan: Yeah, let's kick it over to Guesswork.
Guesswork: So, I mean, you guys are covering a lot of different bases. And you're covering the stuff that I am thinking about more obviously. But I think, so where my- the genesis of my question came from two areas. One, which you guys both covered, one is with a couple individuals who I think are kind of exciting people, like they're exciting inside the business, there's a lot that they could kind of grow into. But I don't even know if they've considered sort of their potential internally. Like I want to start having more meetings with them for them to feel like they're a part of it and for them to start to visualize where they could go with the company. And it's a time for me to also check in with them and learn like what are they enjoying, what are they not enjoying about the job. So, that's a little bit more of like a- those are more like one on one check ins as opposed to team meetings. But then, separate from that, I think Rich, you said something about like that weekly meeting is why you guys have gotten better. Like I think right now, things seem to work, but I kind of don't understand why. And we're definitely not- I don't think we're improving. I think we’re pretty good at what we do. But we're not improving, and there's no focus on improving. And so, like I've wanted a way, like a weekly way for me to learn what's actually happening every week at the business. Because I'm not out with the crews. I'm not out in the field. And so like week after week, we're doing jobs, we're getting five star reviews on Google, like it's all fine. But I have like no idea if maybe like one of the crew leaders is like pissed off about something. I don't have a really good systematic way of knowing. And I don't have a good systematic way of knowing what could we be doing better.
Rich Jordan: Yeah, so there's two things there. One is making sure people have like an avenue to provide leadership with feedback. And not just that they can like grab you on the job site or call your cell phone or whatever. Because that's not really optimal for you either. Because then you're getting like pinged all the time at random hours and stuff. Like now people will generally hold those thoughts until that weekly meeting. So, it actually ends up freeing up everyone's time, particularly the time of the people at the top. Because like they will just wait until Tuesday afternoon or whatever. I think- I've definitely felt this before. So let me, I guess I'm only thinking of the stuff that I'm involved in now. But we also, Garont T also has like a technician meeting every Tuesday morning, actually, I think we just canceled the Tuesday one. So now we're just doing Friday mornings, we do a team breakfast, and we do a meeting afterwards where we do like announcements, updates, whatever. One of the things that I remember feeling when I was running that meeting on Tuesdays or Fridays was like a little pang of anxiety when you're like coming in, you’re driving in the morning, like I don't even know what I'm going to talk about. That's like a real thing. You're like man, I’m going to look like an asshole, and like bring all these guys in for a meeting and not have anything to say. I’m going to look like an asshole. It's hard for me to brush off. But seriously, there's a little bit of anxiety. So I think that anxiety starts to go away when you have a somewhat more regimented agenda. Like, just when we have this meeting, this is what we review. So there is no more of like Monday night before the field staff meeting, like, fuck, what are we going to talk about? Now, I got to think of stuff that the guys screwed up last week that I want to talk to them about or whatever it is. It's just we go through this agenda. That's it. So, I think that helps. Because the reality, especially on a really small team, like if the leader is starting to have anxiety about meetings, then what happens to the meetings? They don't happen. Because it's much easier to brush them off. You mentioned something in the very beginning about do you schedule the meeting for like 3:30, but then guys finish up their job at 2 or some guys finish up their jobs at 4. I'll tell you what we found with these truck based service businesses is that if you're trying to get the field staff together, you cannot do it any other time than the first thing in the morning. That's it.
Josh Schultz: 100% agree. Yeah, we had the same thing. We tried two o'clock and it failed every week. We had to move it or cancel.
Rich Jordan: Yeah, once those trucks leave the shop, like you have no idea how that day's going to pan out for any one of those trucks. So yeah, literally, if we're trying to get all the technicians together, like the morning is the only time we'll ever try to do it.
Guesswork: I think I just probably- the former owner is very punctual, and the crews have learned it from him in the sense of like 7 o'clock wheels are rolling. And which is great. But as a result, even the idea of saying, hey, let's actually meet at 7, and then you'll head out as soon as the meeting is over. Like I just, I mean, it sounds like that's probably just the thing that we need to do. And we just need to eat that 30 minutes of productivity, which is fine. But I know from the seller’s perspective, who's still- he's still transitioning, and he's still involved in the business right now, it's going to be like, okay, you're throwing away time. You know what I mean? But I think that's probably just something for me to get over.
Rich Jordan: Yeah. And the reality is that both people can be right. You know what I mean? The reality is you are using paid time of your technicians that they could be on the job.
Guesswork: And it's not just the paid time, it's the efficiency. Like, our drive time’s at 7 to 7:30, and our traffic here is way better than 7:30 to 8 and then 8 to 8:30. So, that's really where he kind of- which is a very good point, like our office and our yard are very strategically located based on where the highway is, the Express Lanes are, and all of that. So a lot of thought has gone into that to have productivity be high. And so, something like this is like very counter intuitive to the business.
Rich Jordan: Let's talk- I guess, well, let's figure out- because you’ve got kind of three crew leads, two crews, each crew has like three or four guys. You're talking like ten guys.
Guesswork: Four guys under the crew leader, like each crew is five guys.
Rich Jordan: So twelve people with you. Or do you have office admin too?
Guesswork: I have one office admin. So yeah, there's twelve. There's ten crew members, one office admin, and me.
Rich Jordan: So what would you be trying to achieve with a meeting? And who would you want there? And what would you- what would you be trying to achieve? Let's start there.
Guesswork: So I think the first is it would be the crew leaders, for sure, and probably the office admin. And what I would love to start doing is saying like, okay, these- so our jobs are very known, like we have a 10 plus week backlog. And so I would love to sit down on maybe like Friday morning and say like next week, these are the jobs, do we foresee anything going wrong with them? Because otherwise what's happening is like it'll be, whatever, midway through a job, and it will be like, oh shit, this specific part of the job was not what we thought it was going to be, and now we're dealing with it. And so, I think that would be a big part of it. And that's more like blocking and tackling. And then a separate element of it, which I think would be maybe smaller, maybe just the crew leaders or maybe one on one with the crew leaders is reviewing how did last week go, how are you doing against KPIs that I'm holding you against, which I currently don't have any, but in theory, I would have that. And then that also gives them the opportunity to say like, hey, this guy on my crew is not doing so great, this guy is. Hey, this person should get a raise. Hey, this piece of equipment needs this. I think those are like the two parts that I had in mind.
Rich Jordan: Do you guys ever show up to a job without the tools or the equipment that you need?
Guesswork: Not often, but yes.
Rich Jordan: Stuff like that is probably important that you lose in the meeting. Because this is important too, these meetings can often be like 15 to 20 minutes. Like my weekly L10, yeah, sure, that's like 45 minutes to an hour. But my daily sit rep is like anywhere from 4 minutes to 10 minutes.
Guesswork: Got it. I think that's probably what I really need to do right away or very soon is say every day, maybe I pick one crew leader. And it's like each crew leader gets one of the days of the week, and it's 7am. And we're done in probably 10 to 15 minutes, and then maybe Friday, it's like a 30 minute to review next week. Just because we don't need the daily sit rep, just because our jobs are well booked in advance. You know what I mean? It's not like the day of.
Rich Jordan: Yeah, you're not like a dispatcher. You're more of like a schedule based company as opposed to a dispatch based company.
Guesswork: That's right. But I think that could actually be pretty feasible. I think I've just been mentally struggling with that idea of giving up the 7am wheels rolling time. But I think that's just the right way to do it if we want to get better.
Rich Jordan: You could do- so for me, most of my office team is remote, or at least like remote relative to each other. Like my GM at Garon T’s on site, but he's remote to me. So we do- like my one on ones with my staff are like via phone. Is that something that at least would, for your one on ones with your crew leaders, do you think that's feasible that you could- One, is it worth it? And two, is it feasible to do those via phone?
Guesswork: That is, it is definitely feasible. It's more of like maybe because I'm coming from like an office world, it feels unnatural to me that I like never see them. You know what I mean? I’ll see them on Fridays. But if a guy, like some of my part time guys who don’t work five days a week, so they don’t work Fridays, like I might not see them for a month.
Josh Schultz: Which could be some alignment issues with-
Rich Jordan: It makes this like all the more important.
Josh Schultz: Can I share something really quick? Because it sounds like we've talked about the daily which is alignment, the weekly which is about problem solving and keeping everybody on target. But there's another one that Rich alluded to, you've alluded to, and it sounds like maybe it's the one you start with. And that's the one on ones. Now, you can mix and match them however you want. There's no rules. But technically, in my experience, the one on ones are good at preventing like major hiccups in the business due to people. It's a way for people to voice concern weeks or even months before they just up and quit and you're like, like you said, Guesswork, like whoa, my key employee just quit. I didn't know you were pissed off for two months. Why didn’t you just say something? It's a way to vent that. So that means two things. One of them, which I think they should definitely be in the morning when people are fresher and not burnt out from work. You don't want them coming off of whatever irks them having just irked them for four hours. Two, somewhere where they can talk openly, so whether it's a back room or maybe let everybody leave at 7, and you hold one of them back and do it first thing in the morning. But just think about location because now the meeting has changed from accountability and alignment, getting everybody on board, and kicking off with a hurrah, to, hey, we're preventing a huge problem six months out. So, let's have a talk. Let's keep you on board. In my case, I'm doing a lot of leadership development. I'm taking people that can run a plant someday but are lacking lots of people skills and leadership, and I'm slowly teaching them how to view the plant, how to view people, how to problem resolve, how to take care of difficult employees, and it’s like I'm reshaping them to take like my cultural view of the company. And that just takes time and repetition. And it sounds like maybe that's what you need most.
Guesswork: I think that's right.
Rich Jordan: Yeah, the one on ones are just like incredibly important. And we found that, so we didn't do those in a deliberate fashion for a long time. And when we did, it was like night and day. All of a sudden, people are just like on the same page. Like you can just feel everyone's just like more engaged. You know what I mean? And it's as simple as like, hey, they got to spend 30 minutes talking to Rich this week. You know what I mean?
Josh Schultz: I just, I mean, Rich knows a little bit about this, but I just deflated a massive problem that has been growing for months with literally a 30 to 40 minute discussion. And I basically said you could tell me whatever you want to tell me. I even understand if you don't like me. Let's just talk about it. And ended up now it's one of my biggest allies, has done triple the work in the last two weeks than I've seen in the last six months. It's just been a crazy turnaround. And I think I talked to Rich that night and I was really like, wow, I have been neglecting this and that is on me. And Rich even made the point to put it further on me, he said, can you imagine what it's been like to be them working, not knowing where they stood and trying to execute. And you're making all these changes. Like Rich was almost basically saying shame on you for not communicating with them. Which is great. But yeah, it's real, though. And so now I've got them with all my directs. And I'm even doing skips now too. So I've taken leadership development on myself because Eric, my director of ops, is pretty busy with the actual technical. And so even though they technically report to him, he doesn't have time for that development, and we have a lot of people development we need to do. So I love it because I love talking to people. They love it because they get to talk directly to me, and they get to step out of the ops. And I'm basically telling them, it's okay, here's what we're going to work on, you're doing great. And we just are slowly working through things. And it's like crazy how it's just activating one person after another to have more stamina, more ideas, more buy in. Definitely should have been doing it sooner. Probably my biggest mistake since I've started with CaneKast is not doing this.
Rich Jordan: What's crazy too is that like even in an office setting where everyone's working together, like say Stanford, the new HVAC company, has like an office staff. What was interesting to me is like when we took over, it became clear that amongst their office staff, they had a very serious retention problem, that they would just like burn and churn through office staff, manager level people, CSRs, install coordinators, like just couldn't hold on to people. And what was interesting is they had like a pretty charismatic and fairly effective leader in the GM. So, it's kind of a head scratcher. Like what's going on here? And then you realize that like while he's a very adept leader, he's not like utilizing the tools that are available to him as a manager. So, there were no meetings happening at all, like never. Once a quarter, they would do a quarterly review. That's it. And that was more of a brief, not a meeting. And so, then you have, even though they're like right across the hall from each other, you have people that are like stewing in their own thoughts. And they're pissed off or they're frustrated. And you figure like, hey, we're together every day. We're like inside the same box. But we're not communicating. There's not like a dedicated time to voice your frustration to me, to give me your good ideas, to figure out how we can improve. And then people just fucking quit. Or they get fired too. Like, they get fired, and it's like you look at it from the outside with fresh eyes, you're like, that person did not need to be terminated, I mean, we could have just like managed them better, given them some more guidance.
Josh Schultz: It's like a relief valve, lets the steam go out a little bit.
Rich Jordan: Yeah, it's just like so avoidable. But the reality is, like I think that's a good cautionary tale. You start to realize these things are even- they're just as prevalent in an office setting where you're there together every day. Like, if you don't have a dedicated communication cadence with people, you're going to lose people. And particularly for guys like the three of us that are trying to grow these companies, it's really hard to grow these companies when you're continually like revolving door on your talent. So that's something we're really working- it's just something we're really working through here at this new company is kind of like to install the mindset of that like deliberate cadence and what it can bring. One of the ways we've done that is because we run all of our meetings at Garon T remote compatible, we will log in to the meeting with Garon T with some of the staff at Sanford, like Overwatch, like watching, they're like, oh, damn, yeah, I can see how that's useful, we should definitely bring that here. But yeah, I mean, it's such like a simple thing, do we have meetings? Do we not have meetings? But it really, at least in my experience, seems to have a really drastic impact on retention and engagement and just like overall well being of the, like health of the workforce.
Guesswork: And those one on ones, the check ins where you're kind of hearing people out so pressure isn't building so to speak, are you doing those, well, one, in person or over the phone? And then two, for those ones, do you have an agenda going in, to your original point, like what are we going to talk about? I sort of have that feeling with them as like what are we going to talk about?
Rich Jordan: Yeah, so I think these one on ones, particularly when you've got several direct reports, so I think right now I do four one on ones a week. And that's not too heavy of a lift but still like kind of heavy of a lift, two hours of my time. So, for us, our one on ones are 30 minutes. And we put them on a subordinate as far as the agenda. So, the 30 minutes is this is your meeting. This is like whatever you want to talk about. Like, literally, that's how I start it every time. Like we sit down. If it's in person, we sit down. Alright, Connor, your agenda, what do you got? I start every single one on one exactly the same way. That's how I start it. And like there'll be a little bit of a pause, and then they'll start going, hey, I saw this last week, I was wondering if- like, how we might be able to improve that. Have you heard anybody doing something like this differently? I think this would be a good idea. We just like kick it around. And if that starts to kind of like stall out at 15, 20 minutes, then I'll take the last 10 and maybe I'll have some things. And honestly, a lot of times, the subordinate takes the full 30.
Guesswork: When you set these up in the first place, what did you prompt them with? Because I just think if I started this with a couple of my guys, and I was like, your agenda, what you want to talk about, they wouldn't know where to begin.
Rich Jordan: Yeah, I think I prompted them with exactly that. And then I said, so anything you want to talk about, improvements, frustrations, ideas, the schedule for the next week, your upcoming vacation plans, how things are at home, like whatever you want to talk about we can talk about. Because ultimately, what we're going to talk about is whatever is like most important to them at that time.
Josh Schultz: Hey, Guesswork, a lot of this is sales too. Like you're always selling. So, when you try to set these meetings up, you're selling them on why it's important. And so one of the things that I said to everyone is, hey, this is a- I feel like I haven't given you a proper channel to make your concerns known, whether you need more help, or more machines, or more vacation, or like you just need to vent. I go, I haven't provided you a channel, so this is going to be that channel. This is your time to talk about whatever is bothering you or important to you or you're excited about. And I'm all ears. Like this is time for you to school me basically. And using that language. Instead of just saying like, oh, it's all yours, you're kind of telling- like you're selling it. This is your chance to really like reverse the roles and you own what's going to happen. And so far, I've had nothing but positive feedback on the meetings. And then the meetings themselves, I don't have an agenda. But I did tell them all 10 minutes, whatever you want to talk about, I'm not going to open my mouth, except for to say okay or give you another prompt. I really- like I take notes on everything that they're saying, and I'll come back around to it, so that I'm not good at staying on track, so it helps me make sure that I like touch point. So if somebody says like I'm frustrated by this, and this happened yesterday, and I'm like, oh, I got to explain this to them, I'll just write that in notes. The next 10 minutes, I try to kind of answer all their concerns, calm them down, that's kind of like that's the actual defusing that happens. And then after that, it's either back and forth, or it's talking about the future, talking about where we're headed, getting them back excited. So it's basically like, give me all your frustrations, I'll diffuse them all, and then we're going to get back on track and get excited about what's happening, maybe some development talk. That's the ideal. We never hit it. Like Rich said, that usually they take 12 to 17, 18 minutes. I then respond, give them a little bit of training for 5 to 10. And then there’s a couple extra minutes for BS. But I've had everything from already engagement announcements to this is like the worst day that I've had at this plant. And so, everything in between. But I find it's all in how you pitch it. So I basically said we're going to do these, it's your time. And then I've got in my screen, I've got six areas that I put up on my screen. And each one has like prompt questions that I can use. So, if I want to talk, if I want to get into their goals, I'll be like, what are some of the big goals that you've set for yourself, either here or personally or whatever. But I haven't really had to use those too much because once they get talking, they'll go everywhere. And it really is their meeting, so it's not about my prompts. That's just if it gets to be a quiet spot, I can use that. Or what your biggest frustrations? What's driving you nuts? What do you think I can help you do better? How am I not being the best person to work for and with? And yeah, just improving their overall relationship with the people around them, the firm, and you.
Rich Jordan: Yeah, important to mention too, I don't think, well, my opinion is that this is not the place for like performance evaluations. That was actually like my first inclination was to basically review KPIs and stuff like that with the individual. And we actually do that to a certain extent, like the service manager does that with the technicians during their one on ones so it's a little more like technically focused. But at least at like the management level, at the crew leader level, like you got enough, the two of you have enough problems at that level, like people problems, process problems, system problems, schedule problems, that the time is better used than to just like focus on performance. So that's just kind of my take. What I'll recommend is the book The Effective Manager by Mark Horstman. Josh, I think you read that recently, too, right? Yeah. So honestly, a lot of the things that we're espousing here from the one on ones come straight out of that book. So, I'd highly recommend that to you, Guesswork, or to anybody listening. If what we're talking about here with the one on ones is interesting to you, Mark Horstman in The Effective Manager does a really nice job of laying that out. And I pretty much follow that to a tee. Honestly, I just like execute what's in that book.
Guesswork: Do you guys, do you give them the option to cancel a meeting, or no?
Rich Jordan: If we need to move it, we will move it. So it's a standing meaning on the calendar for me and my team. I try to like- I put all my meetings on Tuesday. So, all my one on ones are on Tuesdays. If we need to shift it, we will shift it. If they need to shift it, that's okay. But generally, we're not going to cancel it.
Guesswork: You're not doing like, hey, if you don't have anything to talk about this week, just let me know, and we'll cancel it. Because that's what I would worry about is they just- yeah, okay.
Josh Schultz: The second you give them an out, they'll take it every time. And then you won’t have the purpose.
Rich Jordan: Yeah. And that's what’s interesting too. Like, Josh a little bit ago mentioned how to kind of install the meetings in general. And the reality is like you kind of have to be your own zealot around this stuff. Like people are going to- at the outset, they're going to kind of be like, ah, man, now I’ve got to take 30 minutes out of my week to talk to Guesswork about this. The reality is like two or three weeks in, they're going to- they're not going to be able to remember what it was like not having it. They're like, damn, this is like really useful for me. So you just need to like push it.
Guesswork: I think now is like a crucial-
Rich Jordan: Actually, I had a one on one last Tuesday. It was actually the first one on one with this guy. He's new to the team. And we started. I was like, alright, man, your agenda, what do you got? And he was like, dude, I don't have anything. I was like, bet you do. And sure enough, it ended up, a little bit of back and forth, push back, push back, push back, but then we ended up going over the time because we had so much to talk about.
Josh Schultz: It was crying, it was we bonded.
Rich Jordan: I mean, we had like a very productive, very, very productive one on one. But it literally started out with I have nothing, I don't know what to talk to you about. So just seriously, it was like kind of twisting his arm a little bit. But then it all came out. So, I'm wondering, I do think I hear you on the kind of logistical issue. I think those are- like the easy answers just to say like, just like [inaudible 47:56], but I wonder like do your crew leaders have their own trucks? Like, do they drive to the job on their own? Or do they have a guy in the truck with them when they drive?
Guesswork: They're usually driving our big trucks, so they're usually taking someone with them. But yeah, I mean, the logistics eventually I will figure out. That's not- that shouldn't be- it's really an issue of prioritization, I think, if I prioritize it enough will solve the logistics.
Rich Jordan: Yeah, I wonder if like maybe it takes- maybe on your part, it's like a flexibility where it's like, hey, crew leader number one, your one on one days are on Tuesday, like you call me when you have 30 minutes available. I don't know like how active the crew leader is on the job. He might be very active.
Guesswork: No, I think that's the right idea. Or it might even be like, listen, you give me the call when you're heading back to the yard. And then I know, and then you're going to come to the office as soon as you park the truck. And so, then we've got our 30 minutes then. It makes it a little bit- I'll just have to block certain amounts of time, but that's fine, like it'll work otherwise. And I think it's good timing because my main seller is going to retire at the end of May. And so a lot of the like little stuff of like, hey, something broke, or what's happening out in the field, he's keeping on track, tabs on because he's out in the field a lot because that's been his job. He hasn't done as much of the office work. And so that's what, we're going to lose that connection to the crews once he retires. And so that's what I need to replicate. And so I think getting into the cadence now is actually pretty crucial.
Rich Jordan: Yeah, that sounds pretty natural. Like probably makes sense to everybody else as well.
Guesswork: I think that's part of the pitch.
Rich Jordan: I think, Josh, what are your thoughts? Like is there, out of the three because like I talked about kind of my three buckets for me. I got the daily sit rep, the weekly L10, the one on ones. This is not the way I did it, but my inclination is that if you're going to start with one, starting with the one on ones probably might be the right idea and maybe like the messaging in the one on ones helps lead you into the other stuff, like breaks the ice on the other stuff. I don't know, what are your thoughts?
Josh Schultz: If you asked me two months ago, I'd say start with the weekly. It's the most important because it gets everybody together once a week, it gives everybody a set time to air issues, so you're not getting bombarded all week. They know like, oh, I'm going to bring this up on Wednesday or whatever. But as you're- again, this might be company size too. What I realized is with our company size and dispersion across the US, there are so many things ready to go wrong, that unless you're having those one on ones and developing people, it's like the building the systems that run the company, same thing with the people, you need the right PMs in place at all the different locations, otherwise, every issue from every location bubbles up to you. So, at one location, okay, at two locations, okay. We're now at four. And so, I can't handle it. Eric can handle that. So, the preemptive move is develop people at those locations to handle 90% of the stuff by giving them leadership skills, which is the one on one. The one on one is development, is calming, is building the direct report, is enabling them, all that stuff, to allow them to solve stuff day to day, at least for me it is. So, with a smaller size, and again, I'm literally making this up as I go along, but thinking two locations or less, 20 guys and less, and maybe, I don't know, 3 to 5 million less, maybe the weekly is more important. But above that, maybe the dailies or the one on ones are the most important to start with just because you're going to develop people that can then carry that on rather than you having to burden the whole thing. The only change in that is some of the stuff that Guesswork said about his specific company being what his direct need is right now. It sounds like- and Guesswork, are there multiple owners still there? You said that one of the sellers-
Guesswork: The main one, there is another seller, but he's sort of staying on long term. He's actually one of my crew leaders.
Josh Schultz: Gotcha. Yeah. So maybe, I mean, you have four to six months of glide after they leave, maybe less, where whatever control that they exerted by being present, like whatever, like you said, on time, wheels out, all that stuff, that'll maintain for a little while, like a month, and then it fades. You might want to start the one on ones during that fade time. And then when you see things start to slip, that's when you add either the weekly or the daily huddle kind of thing. But I always feel the weekly is really important. I just don't know enough about the company to override my default decision and say maybe you should start with the one on ones.
Guesswork: I think that all checks out. I mean, look, the one on ones is also a huge retention tool. And that's very crucial to me through the transition out of the seller. And so that's where my head had been at as well is to start with that. And then sort of see how we're doing from a service provision standpoint, and then start to kind of implement the improvements on that side. Because like the weekly is really serving a long term improvement, whereas the one on ones is like defense in a lot of ways.
Josh Schultz: So I was going to ask you, what are you more worried about? Are you more worried about the business breaking when the main seller is no longer in the field? Or are you more worried about key people leaving?
Guesswork: I think key people leaving is the highest risk reason for why the business would break because it's a pretty well oiled machine right now, even when the seller isn't in the office or on the crew. And so, the guys are great, they're all very responsible, they're very accountable, all of that. So keeping them around, I think, is the best defense for the business not breaking. And then I think like the medium term is how to you de-risk the business in general and make it a better systems driven business, which will then be like a medium to long term solution to the business not breaking. But the short term solution is just these people, like I don't want these people to leave because they make it work.
Josh Schultz: Sounds like it's the one on one that is probably the most important.
Rich Jordan: And well, like that retention is so critical when you're at a small size too. Like, I always use the analogy, because I kind of got my start in the civilian world with real estate, and I always make the analogy of like a duplex versus like a 20 unit apartment building. Like you lose one tenant in a duplex, you go to 50% occupied. Like you're hurting. You're not making your mortgage payment anymore. You lose one tenant in a 20 unit apartment building, you're still 95% occupied. So while you're small, it's almost more important. Like that retention is so critically important. So you don't lose that capacity.
Guesswork: That's exactly the reason I'm like buying another set of equipment even though I don't really need it. It's because like one piece of redundant equipment would be really, really good backup. It's the same kind of idea. Just you can't really do that on the people side as easily.
Rich Jordan: Absolutely. I'm about to spin down, I'm not going to do it. I'm about to spin down and look at capacity and demand. But I don’t want to go there. That's not what this episode is about. I’ve talked about that on another of Josh's podcasts about that already. But, Josh, I'm going to spin this back on you real quick, because we've been talking about how to kind of install these meetings at a company that doesn't have them. But how about a company that does have them, asking for a friend here, but then doubles in size and now has like a Holdco level? Something I'm thinking through is, what is, one, what kind of meetings should now be occurring at the Holdco level, at the parent company level? And then two, what should the parent company's involvement in the portfolio companies, the location specific companies meetings be? Where's that take your mind?
Josh Schultz: So like I always answer everything with you, still figuring it out, but I'll tell you where I'm at now. And that is, so this is something Eric and I have been talking about a lot because we are, we're changing now. We have to- we both do the same thing, but we also can't do the same thing. So the way that we used to say it was Eric and I do the same thing, Eric's 80/20 mostly focused on tactical, I’m 80/20 on strategic. But we're getting big enough now where we need to actually have separate roles. And so, what we've done is, out of those three meetings, we've decided that the daily huddles are neither of our jobs. That's the plant manager. And if the plant manager doesn't want to do it, like Ermak is big enough where the plant manager probably doesn't have to do it, the molding manager can do it. All the other plants are small enough where the plant manager needs to do it. And again, we just told them, guys, this isn't about the what, it's just get everybody aligned on the same page and kicking off the day together so there's some kind of feeling that you're part of a company here. And there's the weekly. The weekly I used to run. I really told Eric this has to be you now. You're the technical guy in the foundry. So that's one of the things we moved to him. It is his job to get mold count up. Rich, we've talked about those Papa teams. So, what is Eric's purpose? His purpose is to go around every foundry and increase mold count. A big part of that is reducing anything stopping them from increasing mold count. So, he needs to be running that meeting. He needs to be assembling best practices from the different plants, spreading them around, sharing them in that meeting. So that bottleneck meeting has become his to run. We moved the time that works better for him. It is now his meeting. And he's doing that. And then the last one is the one on ones. So, we talked about that. And I told him I feel I should take those because of what they are. I said, I'm going to take systems, building the operations that support the growth that you're going to go on top of, and then all the people development. And so, because I told them I was going to take people and leadership development, which I would say in November of last year, it was not that big of a concern, it was a little bit of a concern. But now with another plant, with more people that have upside, with needing to start moving people intra plant for the first time this month, we pulled a manager from one to another, we've got another person in the acquisition that can be a manager, like we need to start purposely developing our leaders. So that one on one I took. And he called me and said I feel bad. I feel like you're doing my job for me, and I should be talking to my plants. And I said no, no, you can't think of it that way. Think of it as I have operational development, systems development, and people development. You have mold count. Think of the income statement, you've got top line, get the top line up in production. And then, Nickie can focus on all of the expense, strategic costs, control, GNL, all that stuff. So you guys handle the income statement. I'll handle the business that creates that income statement and then the people that handle that business. And so, as a result of dividing the business up that way, I've taken one on ones, Eric has the weekly bottleneck, and the PMs have all the dailies. I don't know if that helps or answers your question of how we split it up. So, I don't even join the weeklies most of the time anymore. I read the report after but I don’t join them.
Rich Jordan: Do your plant managers have like some sort of weekly meeting with their teams? Or no?
Josh Schultz: Not at this time, no. The weekly meeting that they have with me, I give them afterwards like a printout that they can share or post up in the room, in the break room. So if there's job openings, all that stuff, they can either bring it up in the daily huddle, they can post it up on the board, they can reference it, and we're working on getting screens. But the plant managers at this time do not have a weekly meeting. There is an all hands meeting which is kind of like that at every plant once a month. So, we talk safety. I usually try to show up for them. I think I've been at two of the last three. And I'll speak, Eric will speak, the plant manager kind of runs it. So we do that once a month.
Rich Jordan: Yeah, I mean, because what I'm trying to figure out is like we need to make some sort of adjustment. Like right now we don't have a weekly at Sanford, we don't have a weekly at Strong Point yet. We're running the weekly Garon T, which is sort of like Strong Point’s weekly as well. Garon T is like our Ermak I guess.
Josh Schultz: Wouldn’t that be like TJ to kind of run that?
Rich Jordan: Yeah, so like the GM at Garon T should be running the weekly at Garon T. And I should not have to be there. And then, but it kind of is like if you're not careful, this turns into like a mess of meetings.
Josh Schultz: That's what I was wondering. Is your GM of Garon T now also going to be GM of all home services? Or are you leaving him in Garon T, and you're going to find an equivalent for him at Sanford?
Rich Jordan: Yeah. So, we have a general manager at Garont T, and it happens to be TJ, who's my partner. It won't always be him. But there will always be a GM at Garon T. And then there is a general manager at Sanford. And then basically like those two GMs report to myself for now. Ultimately, when we pull TJ out of Garon T, and he's kind of like COO, they might report to him, or maybe it's something like you and Eric have going on where we split the duties a little bit. But what I'm trying to figure out is like, if you're not thoughtful about this, now you've got Strong Point, the Strong Point team participating in the weekly meeting at Garon T, they're also participating in the weekly meeting at Sanford, and maybe they're having their own weekly meeting as well. Which is just like, that's ridiculous. Like, we're already- we are only at two portfolio companies, and that's already ridiculous. And then, because it's not just me at Strong Point. I also have like the call center manager. And she actually has like kind of a- she has an operational role in like the lead flow and the booking of these leads for-
Josh Schultz: You have three companies. You've got- whether they’re structured that way or not, you've got, and this is my opinion, you've got Sanford, you've got Garon T, and you've got shared services. Shared services is basically your call center and you. And I think you, the head of shared services, the GM at Sanford, and the GM at Garon T should have a call. But I don't think other people at Sanford should be on any kind of Garon T call. The communication should be developed in that meeting and then pushed down. It should be the GM’s job to, and I literally had this conversation with our Ohio plant today, what we say in this meeting, it is your job as PM to push that down to the team. If we're going to experiment with sand, if that's what Eric wants to do, it is your job to communicate that and also to be involved in the plant and communicate back up. Because like you said, otherwise, they're connected, and I have to be connected, and Eric has to be connected. And you end up with this crazy cross train, stuff getting crossed. We already had it. Well, I talked to Josh, and he said that you were doing this, but then Eric came and he wanted to change this. And I was like, well listen to Eric because he's the one experimenting. But you also said this other guy was in charge of sand. So it's like, okay, you can't all just be a team anymore because it doesn't work that well. It ends up confusing for those that don't have the big picture. So we've cut it. So it's literally me, we have a leadership, and with the PMs, the PMs communicate all things down and all things up. And on that one page results sheet I told you, one of the results they're responsible for is communication both ways, plant to leadership and leadership down to plant.
Rich Jordan: So this kind of speaks to something I’ve been thinking through, and you and I talked about this, like how maybe it was even like a year ago, kind of like this idea of the GM, like the managers roundtable. Where because let's say this is now five companies instead of two. Which I guess basically is kind of what you’ve got going on at CaneKast. You’ve got four plant managers. So yeah, it's the most effective way to do this to have that weekly meeting is all of the managers from the respective companies plus myself, plus TJ, when he's not one of those GMs, plus my call center manager, plus my marketing manager. And it's basically, one, it's like let's just kick around all the things that are screwed up or whatever, let's fix it, let's do the same thing we're doing on the weekly L10 now. And then, it's also then like briefing us because we're the support team. Like, here's where we need more help from you. Here's where we need to stop breathing down our neck, whatever it is, but it's getting kicked around at that table. And it is all happening in one shot. So now it's just like 45 minutes a week, instead of like three separate 45 minute meetings or something, much more efficient that way.
Josh Schultz: I hate meetings. So, I'm always looking for which ones are working and which aren’t. And so yeah, I have a graphic, I sent it to you, of our roundtables. We have two. We have the leadership roundtable, which is us four. And then we've got a management roundtable, which is just us four plus the PMs, plus the Head of Mexico, which is Mariam, which is basically our shared services. And so we all talk about everything because we all have different perspectives. That's the whole purpose of the meeting, bring in different perspectives from the plant, from leadership, from finance, from shared services. And so, the leadership call is once a month. So that I run, that's on my calendar, and I have the one on ones. The leadership is only once a month because we all talk a lot, we all know the vision, the vision doesn't change that much. We were basically just rehashing stuff we had already been texting about. And the only time we really had a meeting was when the financials came out at the end of the month. So, we said we'll just have this once a month, cover the financials, talk big strategy changes, and get rid of the other three that are literally wasting all of our times in the afternoon. And so, on my calendar that I have to be part of are my one on ones and my monthly. That weekly off to Eric, I join it sometimes, but I don't talk. I leave it on mute. I'm doing other things. And I'll write notes, like, oh, I want to talk to Eric about this after, but I won't say in the meeting. It's his meeting to run. It says if I'm not there, and sometimes I'm actually not there. So because yeah, I just couldn't run the weekly and the one on ones and the monthly, let alone what I wanted to do, but it sounds like it's where you're at, is also should I be having one with each plant, like Ermak and the Ermak molding manager and the Ermak clean manager and the Ermak machine shop manager. But at some point, you're just like, Frank, I got to tell you what we're doing, and I got to trust that you're going to execute. Otherwise, you're not a plant manager, you're just somebody making sure the shop doesn't burn down. And Frank is definitely capable. We do not see eye to eye on things. We don't attack it the same way. But he is fully capable. He knows what he's doing. His execution is flawless in what he tries to do. And I think we're all headed in roughly the same direction. So I basically give Frank my desires, and he pushes back on some and some he doesn't, some he says, yep, I'll do my best. And it goes back to that accountability and autonomy thing. Like if he says no, other than we have like 10 non negotiables, other than that, if he says no, it's like, alright, I guess you guys aren't going to meet then. So I'll just take your word for it, that it's all going to work out. But yeah, we don't cross the plants directly. One thing I am thinking about crossing the plants more but not in a meeting is like an annual retreat. We'll all get together in a hotel, go over, have some fun, have a couple of dinners, get everybody together. But I don't see any value in having the Ohio and the New Hampshire plant on a call once a week together, other than the two managers on the total bottleneck plan.
Rich Jordan: Yeah, that makes sense. Just pisses me off that now I have to like totally rework my weekly meeting. But different company now.
Josh Schultz: Leadership development, no develop somebody else to run the meeting the same way you would.
Rich Jordan: That makes sense. Maybe it's slightly less effective than it otherwise would be. But the reality, like people's time constraints are their time constraints. It’s just the reality of the situation.
Josh Schultz: And you're not going to stop growing and acquiring. So instead of just building and saying, oh, it's only two, we can still manage it, you might as well build for what you're actually going for and get it solidified.
Rich Jordan: Exactly. You're exactly right. I wonder, when you have these meetings with your four plant managers, your management roundtable, do you get the feeling at all that like any single one of those plant managers is kind of getting his time wasted by one guy just like railing against whatever issue he has in Missouri, and the guy in New Hampshire like wants to blow his brains out? You know what I mean?
Josh Schultz: Yeah, I get that. But there's enough of the other side that it cancels it out, in my opinion. So like I said, our Minneapolis guy is on top of his shit, like he knows what's going on. So he probably hears what's happening. He usually throws in ideas, but he can run through his whole plant in about two minutes. It is more informing you than asking you for help. But then yeah, the other guys are like I got three machines down, I don’t know what to do, who's our local guy for electric? And I need more people. And so yeah, it's just like this complaint fest. But we get enough cross ideation of, well, hey, why don't we move this pattern over to Ermak, Frank can run this no problem. We'll take some of the stuff Frank doesn't want to do and move it back down. Maybe that'll solve this problem and buy us another two months to get the machine fixed in the meantime. And then there's enough of that that I think they see the value. My big thing for that meeting is to keep it on our time constraint, to the point where when I was running it, I would hang it up. I would literally just hang it up in the middle of somebody talking. Because I wanted them to know the time constraint is serious, we talked about this before, because somebody who's running Ermak is constantly busy morning till night. And if they know a meeting is just going to drag and drag and drag, they are not showing up. And so, I'd rather be rude, but at least them know this meeting is definitely going to be over in exactly 30 minutes. And so, one, I better quickly say my stuff because he’s going to hang up the phone. And two, I've got 30. I don't have 45. I don't have an hour. But I've got 30, and I know for a fact it's going to be 30. I think that's really important, especially for these guys. I mean, they're making the money. I don't want to hold them up. At the same time, we do have to connect once a week, sorry, we just have to.
Rich Jordan: On that same note, when I first started doing the weekly L10 meetings, I deliberately did not purchase like the pro account for Zoom so that it would timeout at 40 minutes. We had no say. It would start counting down too. Your like, oh shit, we only have like 30 seconds.
Josh Schultz: You are like showing them on the screen with your fingers. Three, two, one. No pressure.
Rich Jordan: Seriously. We probably kept it like that for like eight weeks. And then finally, I was like, alright, I probably should just purchase Zoom for 12 bucks or whatever.
Josh Schultz: Yeah. Did they think you were punctual or did they think you're cheap? We're not really sure.
Rich Jordan: It's probably both. I tried to make a case for the former, but I think everyone knew it was the latter.
Josh Schultz: So I want to turn it back on you then because you said something earlier that I find interesting. You've mentioned it before and just because of where I'm at now and stuff going on at CaneKast. Talk to me about your Friday breakfast. How did that start? Like is it just all fun? Just grab something at like Denny's. I mean, what does it look like?
Rich Jordan: Yeah, it's pretty low threat. It's like literally, for one, we do it offsite, literally right around the corner. Like we're right in Central Jersey. Jersey is full of diners, kind of greasy spoon diner. So, the Rainbow Diner in Brick Township, New Jersey, is where we've recently been doing it. We were doing it to Brick Diner before. And yeah, everyone rolls up in their company truck, parks them all right next to each other. It's like super apparent from the street, on a major highway through town, that we're there. We all kind of hang out in the parking lot with the guys that show up. We roll in. They've got a table set for 16 people every Friday morning, like ready for us. And yeah, we roll in there. The guys order their meals, like whatever they want. It's mostly just kind of shooting the shit for the most part. And sure, we're like kind of talking about work, but not in any sort of deliberate way. And then when we are all like finished and the company covers the tab, we will walk out to the parking lot, quick have like a quick meeting in the parking lot, go over any announcements, updates, issues. And we do vehicle, like we do a vehicle kind of maintenance checklist. We hand out the checklists, the guys to kind of like PM their vehicles, preventive maintenance, and then they roll out to their jobs. That's pretty much it. We do it at 8. So, our days generally start at 8. So we do that at 8, and we're on the road by 9. So we eat an hour on Friday mornings. But to us, it's worth it.
Josh Schultz: That sounds like it's definitely- I'm thinking about how valued that would be especially for some of our smaller plants where there's some strain, the owners left, people are unsure, we're changing some things and just to have everybody for lunch or for breakfast. Just thinking we start often staggered shifts anywhere between 3am and 6. So you don't want to stop in the middle of the day and leave. At the end of the day, they probably just want to bust out of there. Can't really do it before. I'm trying to think. Two of our plants technically don't work Fridays but sometimes they come in. Maybe it's to have like an optional, like we'll just hold it open. I have a feeling nobody would show up. I’ve got to think of how to implement that or something like that.
Rich Jordan: And this goes back to like what we were talking about with Guesswork before about just kind of like these companies and their daily kind of operating rhythm. Like one of my managers was like really keen on doing lunch instead of breakfast at first. I thought it was a bad idea. I was like, alright, man, we'll try it. And the problem is that, when the guys are on the road doing their jobs, like okay, lunch is scheduled for 12, you’ve got to meet at this restaurant at 12. Okay, well, one guy finishes his job at 10:45 in the morning. He doesn't have enough time to run another job and still be at lunch on time. So, he’s just got to eat an hour and 15 minutes, waiting for lunch to start. Another guy doesn't finish his job until 12:15. So he doesn’t roll in until 12:45. You know what I mean? It was just like a mess. Just like logistically did not work. So we tried it like twice or three times and said no, it's got to be breakfast. Yeah, it's just, I don’t know. I think if you came to Garon T and you ask guys like, hey, how do you feel about the culture here, a lot of them would point to the breakfast. Like that would be top of mind. They'd be like, things are pretty good here. Like, for instance, the breakfast on Friday is like pretty cool.
Josh Schultz: I love getting together with other people and chatting on a regular basis, everything from basketball leagues to Bible studies that I've been in, like there was some component of regular meeting and chatting and a lot of just life stuff. And we're human beings, all of us before we're workers and employees. So you're touching that human element of community again. That's the whole reason for the daily meeting, and the connection that you need, and you're hitting that directly without any business in the way. I think it's really powerful.
Rich Jordan: Yeah, and you got to think, for my company too, like most, all my guys are, for the most part, operating independently out of their trucks. They drive the trucks home, they drive their trucks from their house to their first job, they run all their jobs, they go home. They pop into the office, they pop into the shop to grab something or whatever. So there's just very kind of like ships passing in the night kind of stuff. And they're all up on Slack, whatever, but there is no like water cooler time naturally at this company. So I think, for companies like mine, the breakfast is important. Like, we're trying to install that at this new company, but we're getting pushback, for the same reason that Guess work is expecting pushback from his team or from his seller. We've always been trying to push out the door early to like maximize our day. Like, yeah, dude, trust me, I freaking get that. I'm all about it. I love it. But what are we losing over time by doing that? And can we just like concede an hour once a week to like break bread together and like drink some coffee and shoot the shit and feel like we're on the same team?
Josh Schultz: Man, I'm going to think about it. I'm going to find a way to implement it, even if it's fractal to different plants. Obviously, it'll have to be. I'll figure it out. But I just think that's so important. And that directly hits some of the issues that we're having as we scale is keeping everybody as a cohesive team, not as just people wandering around hitting the foundry for a few months until they find a new job. We're looking for those lifers. And that's a really great way to build and find those lifers I think.
Rich Jordan: Yes, exactly. How do you like integrate someone to the team to the point where they would never consider leaving. And like all this stuff is just like little pieces of that. Obviously, you’ve got to pay them well, treat them well, be good to work for, be a safe place to work, all that stuff. But like how do you make them feel like, oh man. Maybe they are frustrated with you this month or this week or whatever, but they're like, yeah, but I couldn't leave, man, I mean, these are my boys. Like, how do you build that? I think you build that through stuff like this.
Josh Schultz: Absolutely. Well, thanks. Hopefully, I can join one of those breakfasts someday, fly out there and hang out with you all.
Rich Jordan: Sure. That'd be pretty cool.
Josh Schultz: Cool, Rich. Thanks for chatting. Guesswork had to leave. But it was awesome having him on. It's funny how much you learn about- Yeah, it's funny how much you learn about what you do as you explain to others. I think it's why Twitter so great. Like, I go to put a thought down and then it's not well organized, so I rewrite it six, seven times, and I add nuance. And then I look at it and it's much more developed then it was in my head to the point where I put it on Twitter for like my own posterity, so I can reference it later. And I know that sounds narcissistic, but I've referenced stuff I wrote. That's kind of why I wrote it out. Like here, these are all my ops principles. Now they're publicly available for you. But it's also my public almost like second brain where I can go reference ideas I came up with, things I've implemented, ways I've talked about it, and rehash and realign to it. So yeah, it's just helpful to think about it. Some of his questions, the way he posed them, were really helpful for me to think about, why do I do meetings? Why don't I do meetings? What is the important reason for a meeting? And then hearing you go through your specifics, your breakdown, your categories was really helpful for me to compare it to what we do, find some holes, come up with kind of the next iteration of community, unity, alignment, and then just effectiveness and efficiency.
Rich Jordan: Yeah, I mean, that's why I like doing these conversations too and recording them, so I can go back. And sometimes it's like cringe worthy, you go back like a year ago, and you're like, oh, my God, dude, I thought I had it figured out. What an idiot.
Josh Schultz: That's why I preface mine with, well, where I'm at now, because I've been an idiot for 30 years now. So, I just figure it's not going to change. I'm always going to be an idiot. I might as well just preface my stuff with my disclaimer.
Rich Jordan: That's fair.
Josh Schultz: Cool, man. I will see you later.
Rich Jordan: Thanks.
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