A Better Way To Pay Techs With Ellen Rohr

BCC 70

Ep. 70: A Better Way To Pay Techs

“If you got into the trade because you love the trade, then that is a big plus, but the money is a whole different ball game.” That’s one of the biggest things that Ellen Rohr learned after a long and fruitful career in the service business. Ellen went from a plumber’s wife to one of America’s top experts on making big money, but the journey wasn’t easy. She got involved in her husband’s company after her husband’s partner died. Ellen thought she knew enough about business to run a plumbing company, which almost caused them to lose their business. Through the help of mentors, she was able to craft a sound business plan together. In this episode, she shares her tips to help you earn more money and grow your service company business. She also explains the things you should carefully consider when paying your techs. Listen in for some timeless wisdom and actionable business tips from one of the industry’s best!

A Better Way To Pay Techs With Ellen Rohr

Our guest started as a plumber’s wife. She got caught up in her husband’s business and quickly realized that there were challenges that face entrepreneurs especially in these service companies. Shortly after that, she became the president of a home service company and grew it from $0 to $40 million in franchise sales with 47 locations in less than two years.

Catastrophic growth is possible. It’s amazing. She has had a number of positions at this company and she is the bestselling author of four business books. I’m excited to jump in and learn some things about how we can improve our service businesses and some things that we can do that maybe we are not thinking of as the easiest things to do but they are right in front of us. I want to welcome to our show, Ellen Rohr. Thank you for being here.

Ryan, my favorite place to be is right here. Let’s talk business. Thank you for having me.

Tell me the biggest myth in the industry. From everything you have seen, what is the biggest myth out there?

It’s this. You do what you love and the money will follow. Money does not follow. It’s like the Van Gogh starving artist clause. Do what you love. If you got into the trade because you love the trade then that is a big plus. The money is a whole different ball game. As a plumber’s wife, I have lived the good, the bad and the ugly in this industry. The bad and the ugly had everything to do with the money. I would tell my husband, the plumber, “Hotrod, we don’t have enough money.” He would hear, “I’m not good enough. I’m not working hard enough.” We would fight. If that sounds familiar, that’s why I’m here. I get it. It can be tough but I had a great mentor.

Have you ever heard of Frank Blau? He’s old-school. He’s a union contractor in Milwaukee and was one of the first people to get a handle on premium pricing. He wrote an article in a magazine. I wrote him a letter. He called me up and told me where my head was. It was a dark place. I read the column in the magazine that talked about pricing and wrote him a letter that said why all that would not work for me. I reached out for help but then it’s not going to work. Sometimes they say you need a brick. I needed a brick and he gave me one.

The first time I talked to him, I hung up on him. It was a rough start to our relationship but then I called him back and said, “I do not know what I’m doing. Help me.” He taught me and this is going to sound sexy, how to read the news’ financial reports. What’s a balance sheet and a profit loss? Even though I have a degree in business, I did not know this stuff. He set me on the path to prosperity. We are going to talk about money and how people on your team can make a lot of money. If you want to make money, write this down, you have got to charge more than it costs. It has nothing to do with doing the right thing.

You said something that got me thinking too. There’s that myth out there, “Do what you love and you will make the money. The money will follow.” There’s this other thing that if you work harder, you will make more. We have this belief, especially in the American culture, that hard work equals wealth. I have found that to not be true because as we grow our businesses, the hard work of a lot of people will help with the wealth. The hard work of me if I’m the owner and I push harder, work harder, take on more jobs or get back in the truck is not going to help solve any business problem ever.

A couple of things are at play on there. One is that working hard is part of our American culture and doing the right thing. This is what I love about the trades. I love tradespeople because of that work ethic and those values. The nicest and best people I know are tradespeople. What will happen is if you are not charging enough per hour, you have to add more hours. That means you are neglecting your health, family and relationships because you are putting in a twenty-hour day. That’s where that extra money is going to come from to pay the bills and stay afloat.

The other thing you mentioned is if you do it all yourself, you are robbing others of opportunities. I roll my eyes at every trade show I go to because I hear things like, “With kids today, nobody wants to work.” I’m thinking, “Do you let them or do you take all of the good stuff for yourself?” I will turn to the person who’s next to him. It’s some kid who works for him and is listening to their boss say, “I can’t find good people.” I’m thinking, “What about this young man right next to you?” I will turn to that fellow and say, “Is it ever good enough for him?” The kid will say no.

BCC 70 | Service Business
Service Business: The best people are tradespeople. But what will happen is if you’re not charging enough per hour, you have to add more hours. So that means you’re neglecting your health and family and relationships.


I hear that all the time, “I can’t find good people.” I always ask, “Where are you looking?”

How hard are you looking? Have you uncovered every rock? We are obsessed with this. We are scratching the surface of what we could do to find great people. This is going to sound counterintuitive. If you are already a little strapped for money, here’s the deal. Raise your prices. Double and triple them. You could go through all the math as I did. Some people are slow learners like I am and they need all the math, budgets and spreadsheets.

Go ahead and do that or triple your prices and weed out the customers. Why not? I know people have done it. Being smart sometimes gets in our way like the smartest guy or the one thinking of how it’s going to fail seven months from now. Double or triple your prices, weed out the guys who are not going to pay for it, get rid of the PETA customers and hire a lot of people. Hire 5 or 10 or hire them all because of a couple of things. One is a lot of people don’t interview well. Tradespeople are interesting because they are sometimes not book-smart. Most of the time, they are not good at sitting in a class.

They are geniuses. They are the smartest people I know but not in traditional schoolroom ways. Sometimes even the interview is not a great place for that person to show that they are awesome. Hire them and give them a chance to show up clean sober, on time and dressed right. Use a checklist for two weeks. They will weed themselves out. You have a chance. If you hire 10 people, maybe 2 of them will stick around. Is that awful? No. They get to work wherever they want. These are not slaves. They are people. They do have a chance to work in multiple places.

Give them a shot and see how it goes. If you are interested in growing your company, one of the mistakes I see people make is they hire one guy and devote everything they have got to that one guy. Six months later someone else sees how nicely he’s developing and pays him a couple of more dollars an hour. You are back to ground zero. This has to be constant but this is what you help people do. This is your gig right here. Thank you for your service.

You were talking about how these trades guys don’t interview well. I tell people, “If anybody ever comes in and knocks it out of the park in the interview, it’s a huge red flag.” I call those evil professional interviewers. They are only there for a little while and then they are going to go do it again because they are always looking for that next opportunity. I tell people, “We put our emphasis on the wrong things in the interview.”

When I ask people all the time, I’m like, “You can’t find good people. Define good for me.” I always hear things like, “They show up on time, treat the customer well and clean up the job site. They don’t have a problem talking to customers. They follow my process and do all these things.” I’m like, “Nothing you mentioned has anything to do with the trade.” Nobody is looking for someone that can install new faucets, unclog a toilet or do any of these things. That’s not what they are looking for because they can teach that stuff.

What they can’t teach is for someone to show up to the job site on time. Look the customer in the eye, have a conversation with them and make them feel welcome, not all creepy and sketchy. That’s one of the big issues we had run into, especially when we are looking for service techs. We have got to find someone that can make the homeowner and office manager feel good. I’m not creeped out by this guy being in my living room. It’s those things you can’t teach.

That’s so important. I’m going to push back there. Some of it maybe we can teach like, “Mama should have told you that you give someone some notice if you are going to leave but mama did not. That’s on us.” What I take responsibility for is could we develop these people’s hearts, minds and souls? You can’t get in their heads. I’m not going to try and motivate them. I never talk to people about their attitudes because it’s none of my business.

There are behavioral skills that one might not have learned from mama or daddy. If they are on our watch even if they are only here for the interview, could we help that person learn something that might apply to their life in some powerful and positive way? For the technical skills, there has to be an affinity for them. That’s nice to identify. A kid who works on his or her car is a good indicator that they are going to like the actual technical work.

They have got to have mechanical aptitude and understand how that stuff works.

If you got into the trade because you love the trade, then that is a big plus, but the money is a whole different ball game. Click To Tweet

Pick up a Channellock or something. There are some things that you can test. You can ask them questions on what lights them up. Technically, the jobs are pretty sexy and we do want them to have a whole bunch of that. Manners are great. If you can suss that out in the interview that mom or daddy did take some time or there was someone in their life who had that influence on them, it’s awesome. It’s up to us.

I met with a gentleman who was looking for auto-mechanics. He had a string of stores across the state. He says, “The big point for me was when I realized that it was my responsibility and that I almost had an obligation to finish raising these kids.” Society, the schools, parents or whatever it was let them down a little bit and did not teach them how to go talk to your boss and some of these manners that you were talking about. He changed his mind. All of a sudden, he would send text messages to remind kids to get out of bed on time. That was all he had to do. He was like, “This is your morning wake-up call.” They were great workers.

This is what will get you fired. You are clean sober, on time and dressed right. Use a checklist. That’s to ante up. We are going to play a small game, this one but not for very long. You are going to lose your job or do this. That’s entry to the bigger game. We are going to teach you these skills. You get to use these cool tools and you will be off in this big old truck all by yourself, making decisions, having fun and solving problems. Making money is the big game.

Even when we read in class, it works best if you ask them to stand up because sometimes no one told or taught them how to stand and deliver. Stand on both feet. Don’t lean on the table and have your elbow on the table. Stand up, hold the book and read. You can even assess their literacy level. We could help with that too. All of those little pieces that help someone develop as a human being pays off. I love it so much when someone on our watch gets better. You mentioned family. Is it not true that often the family you create at your company is the best family they got?

That is another thing. We talk about that. These people that come to work for you want to feel like they belong there. That’s one of the things. The family core value drives me nuts because you never know where someone came from and who their family was. If they can feel like they belong here, you are investing in them, you care about them and they have friendships at work, that’s another thing. They got to have friendships especially your techs.

They are behind a windshield all the time. Unless they have got someone that’s shadowing them or something like that, they don’t get opportunities to connect like the people in your office do. You have to create these opportunities for them because that’s what’s going to keep them there. It’s not the extra $1 or $2 an hour. It’s the, “I get out of bed in the morning, get to go to a place where I feel like I fit in and enjoy the people there.”

That’s going to keep people way longer than an extra $1 or $2 an hour. I would love to shift to that because you have some strong opinions. People are freaking out about what’s happening with wages in this country and the demand from the job seeker. All of a sudden, job seekers that were making $18 an hour are now worth $35. How do you deal with this? How do we attract people knowing that wages are going up and they are going to continue to go up? Do you have some thoughts on that?

I do. I was at a seminar not long ago. A speaker whom I respect and admire was talking about his home, car and second home in Hawaii. He was decrying the fact that these guys think they deserve minimum wage or $20 an hour to get started. I was going to swear. I’m on my better behavior. It made me think, “Will you try to live on $40,000 or $50,000 a year?” It’s not that much money. With these guys and the skills that they have, what if we took the emotion out of it? Let’s come from the place that maybe they deserve to make $100,000 a year. How could we get them there? What would be the path to get them to professional wages?

Steve is our General Manager and one of my partners at Zoom Drain. I’m so proud of his career. He started as an apprentice and moved up the ranks. He’s one of my partners in the Zoom Drain Holdco empire. He’s responsible for our corporate stores at Zoom Drain and I’m in charge of the franchise. He and I are compatriots. He said that the trades jobs of our time are the lawyer jobs of the 1980s and 1990s because now a lawyer who’s going to sit at home is not quite as valuable as the guy or gal who’s going to go in the world, drive a truck and show up at someone’s house. The power is going to shift here and I love it. I for one think it’s about time that frontline people got a better deal.

Even if you have to look at it like, “Maybe I can’t afford that,” then we go back to our original point. Raise your prices because the customer pays for everything. When you talked about recruiting, how hard have you tried? If you have never taken a sales course, take a sales course. If you have never learned about marketing, go to a marketing webinar or a seminar. Take some time, read some books and invest in your business because premium prices are where it’s at. I don’t know how to do any of this without being priced right. That’s the impact that Frank Blau had on me. That was the first turning point in my career. It became like, “It’s not just the owners making money.” Have you had Al Levi on your show?

That’s how we got to know each other. Al is the one who coined this term, “Let’s create careers, not just jobs. Let’s create opportunities to move up the ladder.” Even as a technician, do you want to do it for 20, 30 or 40 years? At some point, do you move to another position on the org chart? Do you go and start your own business? What if we looked at the people who come to work with us and give them the option that there could be a career here? How would we map that out? Let’s start with the assumption that people are great and maybe you are the problem. Quit complaining about them and deal with what’s inside your hula hoop because you could do better. That’s the direction I want to take our conversation. How could we do better?

BCC 70 | Service Business
Service Business: Having to live with both good and the bad in this industry, you will learn that the bad and the ugly had everything to do with the money.


They send a sales guy in a little bit to sell.

It also puts your CSRs and frontline people in an awkward conversation with the customers. Our frontline people are the ones dealing with what’s covered and not covered. Say, “We will send an expert to your door.” That’s a tagline from Lowery. I love that, “We will send Zoom Drain or drain and sewer experts to your door.” All our service coordinators are responsible for doing is, “Let’s get the professional to your house.”

They can do the assessment, ask you some good questions, listen to what you need and want and come up with some solutions. That will happen before you agree to anything. That’s fair enough. At a doctor’s office, you will do that. Maybe there’s the copay but it’s not why. Don’t even do that. Show up. Let’s have the professional decide and help you make a good decision based on your situation, needs, wants and even budget.

To that marketing tactic of the $79 service call, the other thing that’s hurting the industry and continues to is there is this predisposition for contractors to make fun of other contractors. We have a plumbing company here in town and their tagline is, “The Smell Good Plumber.” What are they doing? They are implying that plumbers don’t smell good and telling people, “Plumbers are gross, smelly and yucky but ours take a bath.” What it does is it hurts the whole industry. There’s another contractor out there that’s like, “Don’t be a malodor.”

I was around when that was developed. It has been effective. It’s interesting.

I get they are effective but what happens is you have got a fifteen-year-old going to high school on career day and he’s like, “Mom and dad, I want to be a plumber.” They are like, “A plumber stinks. I don’t want a stinky kid. They stink because that guy over there tells me he’s the only company in town that has smell-good plumbers.” We have got this whole generation and these parents saying, “My kid is not going into the trades because it’s not sexy and cool. They are gross. It’s stinky. Go get a real job.” That’s counter to what we are doing here.

I got this from Mark Victor Hansen, “You can raise your prices as often as you raise your self-esteem.” Why is an actor worth $20 million for three months of work? They believe that they are worth that and the people around them tell them that. To your point, if someone’s going to go into the trades, often by the time they get to your shop, a lot of people are disappointed in them. Is that not crazy?

A big part of what we have to do is, “However you got here, let me tell you the professional path that you could take. Here’s what it will take. When you are upset, let me know. Don’t leave your keys on the desk. That’s not going to help you now or ever. If you find a better offer, a two weeks notice is polite. Show up clean sober, on time and dressed right and use a checklist.” These are the things that we can teach them.

That’s your entrée into this professional path where you are going to leave those naysayers in the dust. Maybe it was your mom and best friend. There are some good people in your life who have not spoken highly of the trades. There is a movement and I support every bit of it. It will take a lot of voices. Another thing is don’t post bad work. I remember showing something to my husband on Instagram.

I said, “Is this bad? People are making fun of this. Why is this bad?” He said, “That looks like something I did when I was first getting started.” Let’s celebrate the trades. Let’s show off what is happening that’s good and the guys who go above and beyond and help a brother out. That makes all the difference. Let’s pay them what they are worth. Can I talk to you about some mistakes we make as far as how we pay people?

Let’s first talk about what can happen. None of this is about your guys. Your guys are not the problem. My partner once said to me as he started to get his arms around what makes a difference in his success, “I no longer blame my employees for my failures.” That’s good to know. It’s not them. It’s always you. You can’t control your wife, kid, mom or team members. You can control yourself. Wayne Dyer says, “Until you change, nothing will change for you. Once you change, everything and everyone changes.”

Until you change, nothing will change for you. Click To Tweet

Let’s look at what you can do. First off, assess the mess. What have you already done? This is another Al Levi. There’s a knock on the door at 5:00. He watched someone leave his keys on the desk. He knows he’s got you over a barrel. Your team member comes in and says, “I bought this boat. We are having another baby or whatever it is,” and wants a raise. You are like, “I can’t afford to lose another guy. I’m going to give you a raise but don’t tell anybody.” What happens?

I have been an employee 50 times. I was a troublemaking fence-testing kid. I have never forgotten these lessons. Here’s what happens. Everybody knows what everybody else makes because they ask them. This kid is going to leave your office and someone is going to say, “What was that about?” “It’s nothing.” “Did you ask for a raise?” The employee who has been sworn to secrecy has a tough moment. He either tells or lies. What if we did not do that? What could we do instead? What if?

Let me give this huge caveat right here. Before you change the way you pay, you better be thoughtful, careful and strategic because as soon as you change somebody is not going to like it. If you do this too fast, you could lose all your guys. How do I know? It’s because it has happened to me and to people I have consulted on this topic. Say it. Also, you are going to need a lawyer and a human resources person. Put on your big girl pants and figure that out.

Here’s what you are after. You are after a transparent ladder of opportunity. A union or non-union is not the reason why people are successful or not. Why did unions come into play? It’s because workers were being taken advantage of. What did unions do? It’s at least this. They created a transparent ladder of opportunity like teachers in a teacher’s union have. We know what it takes to get to the next level.

What if at your shop, it’s like, “Mr. First-day-on-the-job, welcome aboard. Here’s the org chart. Your position is the bottom rung Apprentice. You will notice we have Techs Level 1, Techs Level 2 and Senior Techs. We have the Field Supervisor. There’s the Service Manager.” If I were new to the company, what might I ask on day one looking at that org chart with me at the bottom? What might I ask the person who’s showing me all this?

“How fast can I climb this?”

“What do I do next? How much does that pay? How do I move up the ladder?” What if you had it mapped out? What if it did not have anything to do with their attitude? What if it was things like you have a NATE Certification? Al Levi is all about these manuals. It had a big influence on me and Zoom Drain. We have manuals that take you from one level to the next level. You write them or buy them. You move up the ladder and check off the boxes. You are in charge of your career. You are the one if you are missing this task who has to figure out how to get the check right on that task and then you go up the ladder. Certainly, your field supervisor is going to pay attention to you and you are going to meet with them once a week. That’s the person who’s going to help you.

Would that not be delicious and cool if everybody knew what everybody else makes because they already do? Suppose you have made a mess. Suppose you have got Susie, who’s a woman. She’s introverted. She does not knock on your door at all and does not seem to be unhappy. You have got Barry. Barry is noisy. He’s always telling you how much he could get somewhere else. They are both great. As it turns out, Barry gets paid $3 more an hour than Susie because she has never asked for it. It’s supposed to be a secret. If you have already got those messes, here’s what I suggest. You are going to talk to everyone individually. I’m giving you the teaser of this. You want to be very strategic.

There’s a big process to making this work so you don’t hurt yourself.

It takes 6 months to 1 year to map this out. There’s communication and transparency. Have a couple of key people in on it with you, try it out with a couple of guys, figure out the holes in the system and roll it out. This can be done. You can move. I’m trying to get you to the ideal scene so that you can see where some of the to-dos might be. I don’t believe you are going to move anybody down and keep them. Susie moves up. The OGs or the people who have been with you for a while, you move them up to where it’s fair. Maybe they are Tech Level 2.

You can say, “The new kids are going to have it harder and different from you because we are tightening up and raising our standards. You are going to be a Level 2 but the new kids are going to have to go from Apprentice to Level 1 and Level 2. You are going to help me please because they can fix everything for you if you let someone else do it. Help me map out what would be the behavioral benchmarks between Apprentice to Level 1 and those benchmarks from Level 1 to Level 2. You tell me.” Maybe a CDL License is part of it or a manufacturer’s class. You patchwork it together. Who can help you do it is the people you have already got on your team.

BCC 70 | Service Business
Service Business: If you want to make money, you’ve got to charge more than it costs. It has nothing to do with doing the right thing.


People ask me all the time, “My job ads are not working. How do I get better job ads? I’m not a creative writer.” Bring your team in by lunch and say, “Tell me what it’s like to work here.” Write down what they say. All of a sudden, you have got this new marketing piece because you brought your team. They are like, “My team is not going to help.” I promise you your team will help because they are overworked, exhausted and tired of dealing with customer inquiries or customer satisfaction issues because you are short-staffed. They know the issues are here. They want to help you find people so that it’s not all on them. There’s so much opportunity to get your team well.

That makes the case for the ride-along. Go on a ride-along, not to bust them or go through an 80-point checklist. This is how I do a ride-along. First off, most of the time they don’t report to me. It’s a different situation. I’m going to go visit a franchisee and the company stores. I honor the org charts, not make it. I will say in the ride-along, “Here’s the deal. I got this 80-point checklist. With your blessing, if I notice something you do on this call that you could do differently and it might be helpful to you, are you interested in that?” They think, “Why else are you here? What are you doing?”

“I will do that and give you one thing. In the meantime, I got some questions for you while we have some time together. Can we visit?” I’m going to ask him about his hopes and dreams, what he wants to happen, what he likes about his job and what he does not. I’m going to ask things like, “What do I do at the executive level that makes no sense to you? What have we asked you to do that you wish we hadn’t? What’s one rock that’s in your way? What I can do is move rocks. That’s what I do. I can get stuff out of the way if you would let me know what it is. We could get some things happening in here.”

That’s a fun conversation. Everything they tell me was always my great idea from the ivory tower. I was not in the field and I came up with some smart ideas. The team will fix everything if you involve them and give them some, “Would you be on the committee to change the uniforms?” One of our ride-alongs is Chris Samarco. I love him forever. This is one of the things he said, “Why do we all have to match?” We are never together except for that dumb picture where we are holding our hands in front of us that we take once a year with all the trucks.

He says, “Why do we have to match? They don’t see us all together. The big guys are hot. The skinny guys are cold. Can we not Boy Scout catalog?” We changed it. What a great idea. We have never matched since. It’s things like that. Getting back to they will help you, specifically on the way to pay people. Let me lay this on you too. I wish we had women as tradespeople lots more. We have some. Thank goodness. I don’t think I have even started to turn over the rocks that we need to make this so.

These underserved communities, why are not they working for me? It’s very humbling. One of the reasons women get paid less than men has been because it’s a big secret, “Don’t tell anybody.” They don’t know. When you move in the direction of transparency, what your vow is, “I’m going to make it fair or at least equally unfair to everybody. Life isn’t fair but I’m going to do my best to level the playing field. If I make it transparent and behavioral as you move up the ladder then all the better.” Do you know what else I like that a lot of people don’t like that you might want to hear?

What’s that? That’s the last one.

I like paying people hourly. Salary is often abused to avoid overtime. I learned that when I was in the restaurant, “We will make you a manager.” That’s great. You are working 80 hours a week. Watch salary. The other thing is the person at home understands hourly. Pay him straight across the board for everything, even including training and not less for different tasks.

What’s that voice at home going to say about the way you pay? Hourly is straightforward. You can do bonus and commission but here’s the gold standard. Can your team member go home and tell whoever is waiting for them at home how they get paid? Can they both expect the number that’s going to be on their paycheck? If not, you are losing trust.

I can’t tell you how many times I have seen it in people like, “I don’t even know how to figure out how much I make. I get a paycheck and trust them.” I’m like, “That would drive me insane.” That’s the standard, especially when you start bonusing and commissioning your service tax on that stuff. They have to trust it. The comp plans are so complex. Usually, I see that happen because something came up and someone made too much. We are going to put this one tweak in it and now it affects everybody. They keep adding on these layers of tweaks.

There’s the poor bookkeeper. That’s the thing. Payroll takes a day and a half.

If you want to start a business, consider having a franchise. Click To Tweet

We do it weekly because why not?

Once you start, that’s a tough one to change. We did a class on financial literacy. Let’s develop the whole person here and the personal financial literacy. There’s a lot of debt. I realized a lot of guys may not want to come to a class and admit. It’s such a vulnerable thing to do. We are working with an excellent trainer that we used, Kelly Schols. Kelly would be a good guest. He’s a service tech. He had a rough life made good and has focused on a personal financial literacy path.

He helps service techs figure out their money. It’s good. I realized that there’s this need for doing it in a private way. You and your partner can watch the videos and go through the stuff because it’s so vulnerable to help them make a lot of money. Keep it and invest it. What are they going to do in twenty years when their back and knees hurt? What are their other choices here as they move throughout this career?

That’s great, especially when you got the guy that’s coming to you saying, “I bought a new boat. I need a raise.” It’s like, “Hold on. If we taught them financial literacy then maybe they would understand that you should spend less than you make and budget for these things. All of a sudden, they are not putting in those binds.” As an employer myself, I feel for them.

It’s not their fault that they did not quite understand the dollars and cents of how this works. I want to support them and take care of them. They are valuable team members to me. I may be even invested personally with them as developing a friendship or whatnot. It’s hard when they get in those situations. That personal financial literacy is great.

We are getting started on that. That could be such a big part of it. I’m not even being judgy. I learned way too late. My kid is so much smarter than me. It took me a hot minute to figure this stuff out. That’s like, “If I’m old now, I want to help you do it faster.”

Let’s talk about that because you got some free stuff for our readers to give away and you are going to tell them how to get it. Tell us what those are.

Right on the splash page of my website, EllenRohr.com, you can download a copy of a book I wrote called Where Did the Money Go?. I wrote this book because when I was in my early days as the plumber’s wife. I wish someone had written it for me. It’s skinny. It has pictures. It uses examples from QuickBooks and shows you what’s a balance sheet and a profit loss. It’s got a glossary. It tries to make sense of these things that you may feel stupid for not knowing. You are not stupid.

Nobody ever taught you. It’s the basics of business accounting. If that does not sound sexy, I get it. Why are you in business? It’s to make money. It’s your job as the owner to know this stuff. It’s the bare minimum. I’m very proud of that book. Download that book and share it with your team members and anybody who’s thinking of starting their own business. Push that one along. I love giving that book away.

You have got EllenRohr.com but you have also got the franchise. I’m sure you are still continuing to grow that.

What is a franchise? If I were to start a business, I would start a franchise. If I was going to go into healthcare, athletics or food business. I will use a franchise because franchises can save you a lot of time. I love the model. They are going to have a brand, systems and support training. The home office is going to do a lot of stuff that you might not want to do like answer your phone as you are getting started. Franchises can be worth looking into. You need to play well with others. If you are fiercely independent and you don’t like people, a franchise is not for you.

BCC 70 | Service Business
Service Business: One of the mistakes when you want to grow your business is to hire one guy and devote everything.


Entrepreneurship might not be for you either.

There’s no judgment. My husband is a lone wolf and a one-man band who charges a lot of money and lives his best life. If that’s your dream, follow your dream. If you are thinking, “I want to grow fast,” a franchise might be worth looking into. Look into mine, ZoomDrainFranchise.com.

I can’t believe that we are done already. There was so much stuff. I was like, “That’s an episode.”

Let’s do it again. I’m at your service. I love what you are doing. Thank you. You are pinpointing an area that needs your expertise and loving attention. I am grateful to you for it.

Ellen, I have enjoyed our conversation. Thank you for being on the show. For those of you reading, go to EllenRohr.com and you can get all those freebies. She’s even got some more too besides the one she mentioned. Ellen, thanks.



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About Ellen Rohr

BCC 70 | Service BusinessOnce upon a time, I almost sank our family business. I assumed I knew enough about business to run a dinky little plumbing company. After all, I had spent about $100,000 of my parents’ money on my college degree in Business Administration. In fact, I graduated at the top of my class. Still, I didn’t know how to balance a checkbook!

I got involved in my husband’s company after his partner died unexpectedly. Boy was I humbled! It seemed like lots of money was moving through the company, but at the end of the month there was never any money left. Thankfully, I found terrific mentors, savvy contractors who taught me how to keep score in business, how to put a simple business plan together, how to make money.

What I learned?  How to make Business UN-Complicated.  The key is to focus on the few things that have the biggest impact on your results.  Business is EASY.

I started Bare Bones Biz, a venture capital and consulting company in 1995 to help folks of all ages turn their big ideas into successful businesses. I write as a columnist for Huffington Post, PHC News, business journals, and trade magazines around the country – providing “in the trenches” insight that business owners can relate to. As president of Benjamin Franklin, The Punctual Plumber, a home service company, I helped grow the company from zero to $40 million in franchise sales and 47 locations in less than 2 years.  I am also the COO of ZOOM DRAIN Franchising, LLC, a new drain and sewer company expanding across the USA.  We make Business UN-Complicated so you can live Life UN-Leashed!