203: The Power Of A Team With Jeremy Macliver
Building a team composed of the right people doing the right tasks is essential in growing your business. If each unique piece of your puzzle isn’t in place, it’ll be difficult to properly scale your operations. Jeremy Macliver is a certified EOS Implementer™, speaker, and serial entrepreneur. He sits down with Mitch Russo to discuss what you should be looking for while building a team. Don’t miss this important conversation!
The Power Of A Team With Jeremy Macliver
This is the moment in time when you get to chill out, tune in, and extract wisdom that you can use to grow your business with your first thousand clients. We are here to support you by making sure what is working now in business and in life. This episode is sponsored by VEA, The Virtual Entrepreneurs Association. If you are like me, you work from home and in particular now, we’re all working from home, I have something special for you. This is a free trial membership in the Virtual Entrepreneurs Association. This is a place that has tools, resources, education, and community to help you on your entrepreneurial mission. There’s an entire section of the community that focuses on discounts, so about everything you’re already paying for, you may be able to get for a lot less money. Check this resource out. You can go to VEABusiness.com/mitch. On to my guest and his incredible story.
Like many of us, he was an odd child. At eight, he was timing his mom cleaning chores, time-shifting homework from class to class, and later in his auto repair classes, he leveraged his schoolmates and found them paid work, except he was the one getting paid. Like many of us, he skipped college, worked in automotive body repair shops instead and he opened his own shop at the age of 25. He was timing things and this time how long it took to get work done, the best people to do which tasks, and ultimately the best people to hire. Others noticed and asked him for help. That’s where his next adventure began. He runs an incredible consulting company helping others to work more efficiently and profitably. He’s here to share some of the greatest secrets he’s discovered to his own success. Welcome, Jeremy Macliver, to the show.
Thank you, Mitch, so much for having me.
It’s my pleasure, Jeremy. I apologize for telling the audience that you were an odd child but I was pretty odd myself, so I don’t mind saying that.
It won’t be the first time. My mom might have even said that a time or two.
My mom would join that chorus as well, so I totally get it. Jeremy, you had what sounds like an interesting childhood. Why don’t you go back in time a bit and tell us how this all got started for you?
It’s interesting because like most entrepreneurs, I didn’t know that I was one of those. I didn’t know I had that defect. Quite honestly, when I started my body shops, you shared a lot of the story of my childhood and the way that I processed stuff, I didn’t connect the two worlds for a while. In fact, at one point, even my father hadn’t connected those two worlds. Like most entrepreneurs, I hit that spot where the rubber meets the road, there’s that decision to be made, and that happened to me when I was working in a body shop. I created my own empire within the organization. I figured out how to split my wages and get other people to work under me, generate more revenue for me, and ultimately, began to clash with the organization. They decided that we needed to part ways. I was 25 and knew everything. I was super confident, so I went and started my own business.Acknowledge the most essential parts of your business for success. Click To Tweet
You were 25. You knew everything and you knew you’re a disrupter so that’s exactly the path. What happened next?
I learned everything I know for the next six years. It was painful. I quickly learned. I formed a team. I started with employees. We got it going. The first two weeks were pure bliss and I started realizing that business is a lot harder than it looks. I began diving into all of the nuances of what makes a great organization and a team. How do I do all this stuff? Maybe my boss wasn’t so dumb, after all.
It’s amazing how we reach those conclusions at some point or another, right?
Correct. I’ve kept the first pro forma that I built pre-business of exactly how it was going to work and how the money I was going to make. A wise old man told me as I was getting started, “Paperclips are expensive.” I didn’t know what he meant at the time but while I missed budget after budget because of office supplies and those things that I forgot to add, the little things, I began learning that paperclips are expensive.
If you go back in time and look at my pro forma for my first company, I should have overtaken IBM by about the 23rd month. By the way, that didn’t happen so there you go. You’re not alone.
What was next?
As we got that going, I started generating leads, getting that stuff and started learning that I don’t know how to do a lot of this stuff. I’m not cut out for it. I could organize the back end. I love that. That’s when I started understanding that different people have totally different gifts. If I could start leveraging those, I could build what I was after.
I have to ask you a question because you said something that piqued my interest. You realized that you weren’t cut out for it. I’m asking you because I know that a lot of people reading now might have resonated with that statement, but for a different reason and that’s why I’m checking in with you. When you say that you weren’t cut out for it, did you mean that you are feeling insecure about running and building a business or that this particular business was not the one for you?
I was insecure about running a business about a month into it. I knew the trade well and I realized that I wasn’t cut out for that. It also meant that there were parts of it that I started recognizing were essential for it to be successful that I couldn’t do.
The Achilles heel of so many company owners. There you are running a business and the business owner isn’t good at closing sales. It’s a familiar and powerful story that many of us tell. I’m fascinated to hear you speak more about this because I went through that and later discovered that my best solution was to learn how to not only sell professionally but to become a professional salesperson. Tell me what you did and how you overcame that.
The first way I did it is I cowered to the back of the shop.
Did that work?
No. The second idea was to hire somebody else that could sell. That did have some success, so I started attracting some good salespeople. One thing about not being able to sell or control any of your destiny, that is a predicament that I didn’t recognize at first. I was like, “This is easy. Hire some people that can sell and I’ve got that all figured out.” What I learned is they owned my company for me. I didn’t have control, even though on paper, I said I owned it. I said exactly what you had to find out, “I better figure this out for me.” I began working on how do I present, sell, close and where do I do it well. That’s one of the biggest breakthroughs I had. There were certain areas that I was good at selling and I’ve become masterful at it and there are other areas that honestly, I’m still weak.
I have to ask because longtime readers know how I learned to sell. I went to the top salesman in my field and asked him how he learned and he told me to join the Dale Carnegie Sales Course and that’s exactly what I did. After having lunch with that guy, I drove over to their office and enrolled. How did you learn how to sell?
The first thing I learned how to sell is I took what my employees were doing and I began saying, “We’re mapping it out.” I would listen to how they were doing it and I would try to come up with the best ways. I would facilitate between my sales team and leading a meeting. Believe it or not, I was digesting what they were doing. I’ve done a lot of stuff in my life where I started filtering, “They’re successful. How are they getting it?” From there, I began working and building my confidence. Since then, I’ve used several sales programs. I’ve used Sandler’s Sales Program and Grant Cardone’s. Using those two upped my game and got better at the skillsets of it.
Those are great tools. I’ve used Sandler. I’ve hired Sandler and brought them into my company at one point as well. It’s interesting, Grant Cardone and I have been friends for years but I’ve never been through a sales program but people say it’s great. I’m glad to hear you echo that. What would be your advice if somebody’s reading who might be vying for a spot in the back of your shop to share with you cowering when customers walk in? How could they get out of the back of the shop into the front of the shop and learn how to close the sale and take control of that part of their business?
Probably the biggest thing I learned was it’s okay to mess up. Get out there and be real. When I started getting out there and I didn’t have to have the perfect line every time that I could get out there. I remember walking out to a car and I was a little bit nervous about the sales process. This guy looked like he was in his early 40s. A part of me thought he was in his early 60s. I walked out and I saw the car seat in the backseat, “How’s your grandbaby doing?” He was in his early 40s and that was his kid.The people you hire “own” your company for you. Click To Tweet
I learned that creative questions are going to get a little bit better. I closed that deal and that was one of those moments where I’d gotten started getting comfortable being real. I’m like, “I’m sorry. Have you ever done that?” I asked him that. He fell in love with my humanity. We were able to be real and work through it. I found that that took a lot of pressure out of it for me. I could be real out there. I could ask real questions, dig into what was going on in their world and we could do something then.
I remember once walking into the CEO’s office of a large military manufacturer. It had taken months to get that meeting. I’m sitting in front of his desk. He’s a gentleman with thinning gray hair, portly in build and I look down at his desk and I see this beautiful young woman and children. I assumed, like you did, that this was his daughter with grandkids. I said something like, “What a beautiful daughter you have.” He turned to me and he scowled and he said, “That’s my wife.” Needless to say, you know how I felt. You might say it set the tone for that sales call. I had to recover and that was the bottom line. I had to figure out my way to recover and I did. Like you, I apologized until eventually, he said, “You’re not the only one to make that mistake.” It turns out that was his second family so it worked out pretty well. Continue your story here. You figured this part out and what happened to your body shop?
It’s an interesting story. We started growing the body shops. I began getting momentum, joined lots of different peer groups and I definitely would give everybody out there reading the advice of joining some form of group. You’ve got the Virtual Entrepreneurial Organization or whatever that group was. Those were instrumental in my success. We began comparing numbers getting deeper into what was going on with business. Learning from people that thought bigger than me and got a lot of success. My body shops had a specific niche on military bases and I began to get national attention. I was flying around the country onto other military bases explaining how to do this. The world was mine. I had conquered it. I was 32 years old and everything seemed to go on our way. They’re literally calling me to open up new body shops. I had contracts that would put the work in the door. Everything was going good. In October of 2013, the government shut down.
There you were 32 years old and once again, you knew it all.
I’ve got a big head. The government shut down. For most people, that was a momentary political whatever you want to call it situation. For me, it was the crisis of a lifetime. My body shops were located on military bases and they were directly affected by it in more ways than one. The biggest way they were affected is it sent a shock through the government contracting world. It ultimately spiraled us out. What happened was, particularly the main base that I had the most of my volume on, began looking at, “How could we make more money when Congress isn’t dependable in giving us money?” The great way was to double my contract because I gave them a percentage of everything I did. That’s how I was getting this national attention. It was helping the military and a great cause. There were all kinds of great benefits to this. It was a win-win every way you looked. Except if you tried to double it, it was not enough money there.
On January 23rd, 2014, a government negotiator, as she addressed herself, walked into my office at the body shop and said, “I’m here to renegotiate your contract.” I said, “We have a contract. I have four more years on it, and I have rights for the next ten years. What are we renegotiating?” I learned that negotiating with the military is a little harder. They call them negotiation. I might have different terms for it. On January 23rd that happened. On February 11th, I got a revised contract that had all the new stipulations of which I could not remain in business if I signed. There was no way to make it profitable.
On February 11th, I signed at the bottom of the contract and there was a little line down there that said, “If you disagree with the terms of this contract, sign here and you have 90 days to exit the premises.” I signed it. For the next two days, I agonized in pain because all my dreams and everything was gone. I didn’t know how to react to it. About a month prior to that, we had hired a marketing agency to take us national. Four or five months prior to that, we had hired an HR company to do all of our HR compliance on a national scale. That’s where my mind was and now it was closing the doors.
Here you were at this moment in time in your story. You were basically out of business.
Nobody knew it yet.
You had 90 days to let it sink in and to try and pivot into something else. Tell us what you did.
What I decided to do was tell all my employees. I couldn’t keep it a secret. I felt guilty and had let them down in some way because I hadn’t kept them informed that this was an issue that we’ve been fighting for a couple of weeks because I’ve kept it all inside me. A lot of crazy emotions and some of them were so illogical. You look at it and go, “Why were you thinking that?” I did. I ultimately decided to take each of my body shop teams to lunch and to have a conversation with them about what was going on.
On February 13th, I announced that we were closing our doors. We came up with a plan to exit and I will tell you that in the next 60 days, because that’s what it ended up taking us to close the doors, I saw the true power of culture. I had invested in core values, team building, and my heart into this team. When it came time to tell them that we were no longer and I pulled all of the boss cards out there off the table. There were no more raises, promotions and advancements. In fact, all of their stuff was insecure now. I got to see what they thought of it and I will tell you that I did not lose one single employee in the entire shutdown.
You mean that during the 60 days that you were still operating, you didn’t lose them.
They all stayed with me. What happened was, I told them, “I’ve got a crazy plan. This is against everything they say out there, but this is my plan. The insurance companies are still sending us work. They don’t know there’s a blip on the radar yet. What I want all of you to do is to get a job. I want you to tell your boss that you can’t start for the next six weeks. I want you to tell him whatever you need to tell them why you’re leaving, except for I’m shutting my doors. You cannot tell them that.” It’s because I couldn’t have that out in the marketplace, “I need you to get a job and tell them that. I need you to help me finish.” Every single employee went and did that.In order to sell, you just have to get out there and be real. Click To Tweet
When the last employee came back and said, “I got a job,” I started calling up all the insurance companies and telling them that. The way the body shop world works is once you’re in their database and you call them and you say, “I’m in Iraq,” they’ll say, “Go here. Go to Jeremy’s shop and you’ll be fine.” They turned those switches off and we began to fix all the cars and exit. Those were some dark days for me. Some silver linings to it all, however you say that, was a particular painter at the Luke Air Force Base shop that came up to me on a day.
I remember being down, kicking rocks and bummed at life. He came up to me and said, “Jeremy, I’ve enjoyed working with you so much. I’ve got my tax return. If I gave it to you, would it help you transfer something out somewhere where I could continue to work for you?” Mind you, we weren’t friends outside of work. I live a different lifestyle than he lives completely and we were not friends and in any other light other than work. To me, that spoke to the power of what we had built and what we had.
It shows that you were able to consciously or unconsciously build an incredible bond with your team and a culture that endured even the business itself. Fast forward to now. Summarize what those lessons were and roll that into what you’re doing now.
Those lessons, some of them I learned what not to do and some of them I learned what to do but I did learn the power of a team. You asked that maybe it was consciously or subconsciously, I will say that it was conscious. It was deliberate. The methodology that I’d used to build that team to unite, connect them, and make sure that as we grew, we had our system and our process. Honestly, that’s what I teach to this day. There are six key fundamentals to a business and I teach those and help teams to master those because I know if you focus on those, you will get what you want from your business.
Share with us what those six keys are.
Those six key components to your business or your vision component. What does it mean to get everybody aligned on where you’re going and how you plan to get there? The second one is your people component and that’s getting clear on who are the right people for your company and what is the job for them uniquely. I talked about that. I didn’t have the skills to do everything and nobody does. It’s getting the right person in the right seat. Jim Collins made that term famous. I’ve found it to be super powerful and executing it. The next key component we talked about would be the data component. That’s managing the company by the numbers and metrics. We can talk over some of the pitfalls I’ve seen with teams doing with that. It’s boiling down to the cold hard facts and making sure that we all know what winning looks like.
The next key component is the issues component. That’s how we solve issues. I have found that employees love to be a part of it. If you can create that, that creates a company that is bigger than you. It’s conquering more than you can conquer and it’s driving and pulling out all of the issues and moving the company forward. The fifth component is the process component. The process is the system and the structure to allow you to get control of it. The thing with process is what you’re looking for is not perfect, but repeatability. Once you get repeatability, you have control and now you can begin to get scalability, more profit, fun, and all of those kinds of things. The last key component we call traction. Traction is the consistent ability to drive the business forward. How do you build momentum within your organization so everybody in the company is driving it forward? Those are the six key components.
That’s some powerful stuff and those are hard-won lessons. I loved your story about how you got there. In working with a client, how do you apply these? Where would you start with a brand-new engagement, a brand-new client?
To be clear, these have all been summed up. I discovered a lot of these when I read the book Traction by Gino Wickman. I was like, “This is all of that stuff that we were doing but pulled into one spot.” I do follow the EOS or Entrepreneurial Operating System process. It is the simplest, fastest, and easiest way to build your unique business.
Jeremy, before as we were getting on the show together, I had Gino on the show and we talked a lot about Traction, a lot about his process, and a lot about his new book as well. Readers, if you’ve enjoyed this and you’d like to dig deeper into what Jeremy was talking about when it comes to traction, you can go to YourFirstThousandClients.com. Look for Gino Wickman’s show page. There you’ll see a complete transcript of our interview including some free stuff that Gino gave away. Jeremy has a cool giveaway as well and he’s going to tell us a little bit about that. Jeremy, you read the book Traction, you said, “This completely resonates with me. I love this.” Did you then implement it in your own company? Did you then use it to help others?
When I first left the body shops, at that point, I had not yet discovered Traction. I had discovered a lot of these components. We were focused on the people, the vision, and the data. We have worked through all of these to some level and most successful entrepreneurs have done some level of all of this. We find that when you pull it together, it gets clear and concise. Let me fast forward. I’m going to skip some stories. We can go back to them if time permits, but where did I get into traction? I started coaching. I was doing Jeremy 101.
All of these lessons I learned I was packaging them and helping teams out there because I had a name out there of being the process guy, the guy to build the teams. I began doing that. One of my clients was a structural steel company. I was supposed to be there for a couple of months and instead of two months, it turned out to be 2.5 years and we doubled the size of it to 100 Best Places to Work. That’s the successes we want to talk about but behind the scenes, I ran into all kinds of challenges and stuff. It was at that moment that I had learned about EOS and about the book Traction. We read it, we implemented it, and that’s what got us to that spot where we began building that great team and that organization.
I have to ask you a question because I was chatting with Gino and in disclosure, I have known Gino a long time and I’ve read his book as well. Did you hire one of their EOS consultants to come and help you or did you read the book and go through the paces and make it work for yourself?
I’m going to have to tell you something that maybe EOS will sway from. I gave you that disclosure there. I was still back into my confident world. I had rebuilt my image and I said, “I’ve got that. I’ll read the book and do it.” Let me tell you, that is not the right choice. Where we may differ a little bit in the worlds out there is I do not believe that that is a model that you can get your full potential by doing it without somebody else. We got to the end of it and we looked at each other, me and my business partner that was working with this on, we looked at it and said, “It would have been a lot cheaper had we not tried to learn all these hard lessons ourselves.”You have to learn the power of a team. Click To Tweet
Isn’t that the case? It’s such a great example of time after time. It’s like my book Power Tribes where we cover how to build profitable certification programs. I have people who buy the book and they spend their $13 or $14 on the book and say, “I’m all set.” About six months later, I’m getting emails that say, “We read your book. We have a couple of questions.” When we get on the phone, unfortunately, it was because of that lack of experience, and having done this as many times as I have, we end up having to take apart what they’ve already created. Do you ever walk into the body shop and it shows their rate card above the desk, it says, “Diagnosing, $25 an hour. Fixing, $35 an hour. Undoing what the customer did, $50 an hour?”
Absolutely. To be clear, if you read the book and you use the tools on your own, you will get positive results. For a while, we were delusional into thinking that we were getting all of the results. We began to run into the roadblocks exactly like you’re saying when we hadn’t quite built the car with all of the pieces. When we went down the road, we realized that there was no filler neck for the fuel. All these tires are not keeping up air. We’d be learning that’s why they do that and going back. You’re exactly right redoing it. That’s where you don’t get the same momentum as you do when you hire somebody that’s professional certified and they do it all day all the time.
I’m certainly an advocate of that in every area. In my own life, I’ve had countless coaches to help me build funnels, learn how to close, and do so many different things. I have had coaches. The way I like to think about it is, we’re all getting a little older every day. Why not compress time by hiring someone who’s already spent years working through the problem and instead of getting you to the finish line much faster? For me, that’s what coaching has always been.
That’s a great mature thought. I didn’t have that at 32.
I’ve definitely changed my ways. As time starts going, you start seeing the horizon of life a little bit shorter and you start becoming more susceptible to it.
Tell us about the business in what you’re doing.
My business is helping other teams implement EOS, the Entrepreneur Operating Systems. I get to sit with great teams, see their challenges, help them through it, use my real-world experiences in the several businesses that I’ve run. I’ve used the tools and work with them.
I will say that you’re a little bit different than many of the other EOS coaches or consultants that I’ve spoken with because you’ve developed some other expertise as well. In fact, it’s my understanding that you are about to or have released a book. Tell us about that.
One of the lessons that I learned along this journey was my success was directly dependent on who I had join my team. With that, I began working on developing and mastering, particularly the interview process. How do I unmask them? That is the name of the book Unmasked. How do I pull that back and see who I am talking to? In the beginning, we shared a story of my first hire and it was a total train wreck and I had gotten so convinced. What we’ll do is talk about what’s going on, what’s the psychology going on in an interview and how do you get to that real person that’s behind the scenes or behind that veil because they want to have a job. You want them to have the job. You need people. How do we get the people on your bus?
Readers, this sounds like an incredible book. I haven’t seen or read it yet, but I certainly will. Before we move on to the giveaway, which of course is somehow connected to everything else we’ve talked about, we’re going to do a right fork here and talk a little bit more about you, Jeremy. Our readers like to get to know you a little bit better. We do that using a couple of key questions, questions that every longtime reader knows that we ask every single guest. Here’s the first one. Who in all of space and time would you have one hour to enjoy a walk in the park, a quick lunch, or an intense conversation with?
The person that I would choose would be Paul from the Bible.
Tell me why.
The reason is and we know more about him than a lot of others because he wrote over half of the New Testament, but I am so intrigued by how effective he was while he got tons of opposition and things that most of us would cry and go home about. He seemed to overcome those and stay focused, prominent, and have some clear thoughts.
You might say he was good at leading under duress. I’m sure that there are some incredible lessons that if that were to take place, you’d be able to not learn but share with the rest of us as well. Jeremy, here’s the grand finale. This is the change the world question. What is it that you are doing or would like to do that truly has the potential to literally change the world?
The one thing that I would change if I could change anything would be to change the way that we look at how we build our teams. The book, Unmasked is one little notch at that, but I want to bring it up higher than that and talk about why I believe that if we could change the way we do it, and I know there are EOC requirements and laws about hiring and firing and all that stuff. I almost wish some of that could go away and we could humanize it a little bit more. I believe that from a business owner’s perspective if we get the right people on our team, we’re going to achieve what we wanted. We’re going to have so much more fun at it. We’re going to be so much more successful.
As business leaders, organizational leaders, or whatever that may be, we’ll be able to accomplish what we wanted to change the world. On the inverse side, the employee side of that, I also think if they could change the view to aligning to a team that had their core values, their why and reason for being, they would be so much happier. We see all these disengagement, statistics, turnover rates, and all that stuff. It’s all saying that people are going and spending a whole bunch of their life in a place that they don’t want to. I wish we could align the people that want to go here to go there and the people that want to go over here to go there.
That’s a great philosophy and one which I am completely in tune with. One that I wished I would have learned earlier in life as well. It’s still a lesson that is essential if you’re going to build a company of more than a few people. You have to get your teams aligned. You have to get your culture right. You have to understand why people work for you and why they shouldn’t work for you at the same time. I’m glad that you brought that up. In fact, Jeremy, I know that you have something special for my readers. Can you tell us a little bit about what that is?
As you alluded, the book Unmasked, we are giving away the book on a digital version. Should you like to, go to Mitch in there and you can get that. With it, for all those that have read, we’re offering a free group coaching session so you can register for the one that’s right for you. Enter that you heard from the podcast. That’s how we’re giving that free versus charging for it.
That’s generous. Jeremy, it has been so much fun chatting with you. I loved your stories. I feel as if when I get a true entrepreneur in the room with me and we get to share a conversation. It’s something I always learned from and this is no different. Thank you again for your brilliance, your wisdom, and for spending time with me.
Thank you so much.
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- The Virtual Entrepreneurs Association
- Jeremy Macliver
- Sandler’s Sales Program
- Grant Cardone
- Power Tribes
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