Finally Earning an Equity Partnership
Finally Earning an Equity Partnership

Finally Earning an Equity Partnership

In my last post I discussed recruiting two top producing sales reps and how we aggressively pursued insurance agents in our local market.

Our efforts ended up working really well and we had a big year. We brought in a lot business to the company, resulting in an estimated growth of three million in sales.

While we were largely successful, we also had a lot of problems that year. Our internal systems weren’t built to handle the amount of traffic we generated, and the owner lacked the time and focus to work with us when issues arose. He did what he could and we made it work, but the problems with customer service, workmanship, and in-fighting became so burdensome that 2 employees decided to leave and start their own roofing company.

The trials we faced provided many learning opportunities for me personally. I learned the importance of having technology that meets our needs, and employing competent people from the top down. A competent production manager who cared about the work we were doing would have solved many of the problems we faced. I also saw flaws in my own leadership and communication skills that I will continue improving.

I was able to keep the company together and retain at least our Billing Manager, but I was back to square one for the next season with no sales team except for the one guy. While recruiting a brand new sales team is exhausting, I am looking forward to starting over with a clean slate. 

We also had numerous jobs to close out, and many of the customers were not satisfied. I personally reached out to each and every one to make things right. Our installers could not handle the volume of projects we were giving them, so there were costly problems like poorly applied siding on houses, damaged landscaping, and other workmanship related issues that I had to fix with experts in the field. While finding quality subcontractors can be very challenging, I went through that process and found many quality people who could do outstanding work. 

When Nick and Chris left, they took the insurance agent contacts with them and I was left with two or three insurance agents who still wanted to work with me. I was careful to make sure we took care of their clients and as far as the insurance agents were concerned, there were little to no problems. I know Nick and Chris had to salvage some relationships with the contacts that they had and the agents did continue to work with them in their new company.

Things became sour between Chris and I because he blamed me and Brian for the problems.  I took responsibility for many of the problems that year, but Chris also had his fair share of shortcomings. Nick and I ended up mending our relationship and we are friends to this day.

In December of 2014, I had to have a heart to heart talk with Brian about hiring and keeping good, competent employees. Not only is it costly to need to hire a new sales team every new season, but it’s extremely stressful as well. I couldn’t continue working in this way. Until something in our hiring and training process changed, I was resolved to support Steve and sell jobs myself personally.

Brian and I met at a local restaurant and we had a good conversation. We were never close friends and we did not hang out outside of work, but we did get along very well. We had similar backgrounds, interests, and ambitions. He was also a first generation American and grew up with a single mom.  He assimilated himself into the dominant white culture like I did and we could relate to each other fairly well. He was receptive of my concerns and had been thinking of a plan for the new year.

His plan was to re-hire our old billing manager Edith and he would step away from day to day operations.  Edith had left a couple years ago because she had trouble getting along with Brian and found a higher salary position at another company. She was a highly competent administrative professional, and knew the ins and outs of operating the back office at our roofing company. She has essential know-how on insurance billing, production, and how to manage a small staff.

I was very excited at the possibility of having Edith come back to the company. I worked with her briefly before she left and saw how wonderful she was. Things had changed since she was last with us, and I was much more involved with day to day operations so I knew that I could work well with her. Her coming back and Brian stepping away was the exact change I needed to improve our hiring and training process. I knew that Edith and I could successfully operate the business.

The next major change we made was adjusting the payment plan. At that time, I was being paid an override commission for the sales made by people I recruited. Brian’s wanted to do away with that and make me a 30% equity partner in the business instead. Edith would become an equity partner as well.

It was a good plan, and I was very excited at the idea of becoming an equity partner. Mentally, it felt like a huge promotion and I was confident that we could be successful doing this. I was very clear with him that I wanted our agreement in writing, and he agreed.

A new chapter in my life was beginning, and I had finally attained a goal of ownership that I’ve been working towards for many years. However, it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

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