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Chad and Amy Hart | The Power of Education and Training in the Trades

Chad and Amy Hart are the husband and wife team behind Continental Plumbing in New Port Richey, FL. Together, they have built their home services business from the ground up to the strong, eight-truck fleet it is today. They continue their conversation from part 1, highlighting how education and training has strengthened their business and why the trades are such a great source of opportunity for both men and women.

Josh Smith (00:03):

Hello. And welcome back to the sharpest tool where we take the sting out of marketing with everything that we're bringing to the table. My name is Josh and I am your host and I am back in the booth with Chad Naimi heart of continental plumbing guys. Welcome. Thank you. Thanks for having us. It's good to have you back. We're going to continue our awesome conversation, but for those who haven't listened to part one, definitely go back and listen to it. But before we dive in, just want to give people a refresher of who you guys are and what you're all about. Chad, you've been in the trades for 25 years. Tell us a little bit about your background, how continental came to be

Chad Hart (00:33):

Got into. When I was 19, I started working for a small family business and went on to another company and maxed out what I could learn there and needed a little more challenge and decided to buy a business and get it wrong.

Josh Smith (00:45):

Awesome. There you have it. And Amy, you were a prior school teacher. So tell us a little bit about that and how you got into the trade.

Amy Hart (00:51):

I taught elementary school for 12 years prior to joining chat into the family business. There just came a time where he needed some assistance and I was there to jump in. And so I came into plumbing and now I haven't looked back.

Josh Smith (01:07):

Awesome. Well, let's dive right in considering you're both really intentional about educating and caring for your people. How do you think that's transformed your business

Chad Hart (01:16):

Locally? I would say it's starting to, people are starting to talk about it. And I think some people are like, I always try to, um, I have a lot of other contractors. I don't look at them as competent. I, I, they have an open door policy. I mean, they come in, they sit and watch what we do because to me they're not competition. They're big. Co-owners they own businesses like me. And if they want to see what you know, they're like, oh, well I want what you have. Or maybe you do. Maybe you don't want to come look first. And I mean, I have people come in my office and we show them how we dispatch. We show them what we do with the guys, because they don't put the time in because they don't have the right people. So once they learn to put the right people, then they start to understand why I'm doing what I'm doing.

Chad Hart (01:59):

And it's not a jealousy thing. It's just, I want to make sure that if they want to come in and sit, I'm going to show them the whole thing. Yeah. I mean, I've helped people come into my office and do their break even number. So they know what to be in business with. They know how much to charge. I'm like, all right, bring all your expenses, do this. We got a calculator. We'll help you. And they're sit back and they're like, wow, no one's ever done that. And it's like, well now you know what it costs to be in business and how much you want to charge, or I help them with their price book. Yeah. You know, I was an open door policy, so I'll, I'll help even competitors. Cause I mean, I'm out there competing with them. I want them to be just as good. You know? I mean

Josh Smith (02:35):

You want to challenge, right? Yeah.

Chad Hart (02:37):

I, you know, cause if you don't have that challenge, then that means you got to step it up again until really you got to keep growing and yeah, if you're just one step ahead of them, you're still ahead.

Amy Hart (02:46):

I think it helps with our customers though, too. I think customers know when I always say, if I, if our people are happy, the customers will be happy. And I think that translates over. Even when people, when we see reviews, what people say about us, I think it's because they're mirroring what we're doing with them when they're with the customer.

Josh Smith (03:07):

Absolutely. Yeah. Chad, you said, uh, your people are an extension of you. Absolute extension of you. I feel like that's something many owners desire, but they have a really hard time achieving in your mind. What prevents them from achieving that?

Chad Hart (03:19):

What prevents another owner from achieving that is that, well let's

Josh Smith (03:22):

First describe it. You know, people are an extension of you. What do you mean by that?

Chad Hart (03:26):

My expectations are, they know sometimes new guys will come in and the other guys be like, oh, Chad's not gonna be happy about that. He's like, he would never do that. Or you don't do that because if Chad wouldn't do it at his own house, he said, you don't want to do it in it's customer's house. So they kind of have my expectations. They know what the expectations are at the company and what it is to serve the customer. Because if that doesn't happen, it's like, they're just be doing their own thing if they don't follow not the rules, but they don't follow our values. Yeah. Cause you have to answer it with the values that we've set forth. And that being said, every customer should be treated the same. No matter of if they have a $2 million house or $20,000 house, they all get treated the same. And that doesn't matter. Yeah. It doesn't matter your status. And so treat them all the same. Yeah. And you win. Yeah. Absolutely. You, you win no matter what.

Josh Smith (04:22):

Yeah. Amy, do you find that to be the case in the office as well?

Amy Hart (04:26):

Yeah, I do think so. I think we try to keep everybody on the same page and I always tell the girls in the office, especially we're the frontline. We want to set them up for success. And we want to prepare the person on the phone for what is to expect when they come out and we let our plumbers know the same thing. Hey, we're building you guys up. This is, we're setting the stage for you. It's up to you then to do it. Like you said, as an extension of him and how, how would it be done? What do they expect? Yeah.

Josh Smith (04:56):

What are some practical tips that you both might have for a business owner out there who wants to take that kind of more seriously? They're recognizing that their team isn't necessarily a reflection of them or reflecting what they want them to, to be. What are some practical ways that they can get in front of them?

Chad Hart (05:14):

For me personally, what made me get in front of it was a business coach because they see things from the outside. Totally. They don't see it from the inside. Like I do. So someone else can sit back and have a thousand foot view of your company and they look down and say, okay, you know what? This can help you. I've seen this work, try this. A business coach to me is a priceless. Yeah. To be honest with you and people say they can't afford them bull, I'm going to tell you right now bull, you can afford a business coach and they will teach you in the right direction. Yeah. Because they see it from a different point of view than you do. And they will push you to do certain things that you, if you're not uncomfortable, you're not growing. Yeah. That's just the way it is. If you're not uncomfortable, you're not growing. You're stagnant.

Amy Hart (05:55):

Yeah. I think with people, if I think back to kind of, even when we were going through some things with our people, I think for us meeting every week was very important. I do say there were some weeks where we did not have anything on the agenda other than just to eat. Like I bring food in. I do think food brings everybody together. If that was the only thing on the agenda was everybody to just sit and kind of snack and talk. That was enough. And it slowly, I feel like as we kept up with that and plugged away, it really helped develop everybody a little bit and everybody started to get more comfortable. And then, you know, when you do work things in where it's like, okay, this week, you know, we do have more of a strict agenda. Sometimes I always say even around the holidays, especially our agenda might just be to just play games and just, you know, but that's okay. That's important too. And so yeah, some weeks it could just be a topic that we do need to train on, but then other weeks it's like, Nope, let's just stick with it. And even if we just need to hang out today, basically sometimes they need that time to totally. So,

Chad Hart (07:00):

Yeah, because they haven't seen each other in a week, everybody

Amy Hart (07:03):

Gets so disconnected. I think it's keeping everybody connected is what's really important.

Josh Smith (07:08):

Uh, alongside like, you know, your team being a reflection of you who you are as owners. I imagine it comes with a constant challenge for yourself to continue to invest in yourself while yourselves up. So you give people something to shoot for. What are some of the things that you both do to keep yourself sharp and continuing to grow

Amy Hart (07:27):

Deferring to me first? Well, I, as an educator, I'm also a lifelong learner. So of course I'm always up for anything. I do read a lot. I'll sign up for any kind of, even just online webinars trainings. I do a lot of that sort of thing. I try to pass that along as well. We are involved with PHCC and QSC. So that is something that we do. We really like to take time and it is it's time away from the business, but it's time invested back in when we're learning that the way I look at it, even if we have to go off site and go somewhere and learn, then I think that's important. I think it's important for them to see that we're doing that too. So they know that we, we care enough to put back into the business, to go learn and bring things back. So

Chad Hart (08:11):

Yeah, I'm not a reader. I listen to audio books. Yeah. Um, but I'm not, I don't like to sit back and read. It's just too boring for me. I like going to the conventions, I'll go to different conventions and I'll sit in on classes and I'll be like, take notes and make sure if I, Hey, you know, that, that may work for us. If you take one thing away from a convention or a speaker. Yeah. It's worth every dollar you spent. Totally. And I would say we don't, we don't like to advertise a whole lot. Yeah. Not in that way, but we don't like say, oh, I'm giving $500 to this charity. Here's put a banner up for me or something like that. We don't do that. We just kind of like slide it under. Yeah.

Josh Smith (08:47):

I think you said something key there that chat, as long as you take in like one thing or one thing that you learn, whatever you're learning, whether it's audio books, podcasts, videos, webinars, trainings, conventions that you go to taking away, at least one thing and implementing it right away. An extra contractor

Chad Hart (09:03):

Right away. Other contractors are older contractors that have been to what we've been through or other contractors that are a little older that are kind of like on the exit. They are a wealth of knowledge be their friend, because they've been through good times, hard times. They're a little bit of technology struggling, but they don't understand the technology sometimes that's when they come back to you and ask you and you can actually give back to them. Yeah. You know, when you've already taken from them. Yeah. So that's, I love old contractors. Yeah. Cause they have a lot, they're a wealth of knowledge. That's awesome.

Josh Smith (09:36):

That's awesome. Amy, in terms of moving forward, what hopes do you have for the trades in particular? Hmm.

Amy Hart (09:43):

The trades in general, I would love to see a shift. Not that there's anything wrong with steering people toward the path of college, because I have two degrees myself, but I would like to see some of the stigma removed from the trades and even parents and students. I think it does start with educators do and guidance counselors in the schools. I think every one in a school probably knows a kid like Chad that was sitting in a classroom that did not want to be there. Just can't sit still school. Isn't my thing. But very, very smart. And you don't have to go the path of college to have success in life. And I think the trades right now really need more people, young people coming into the trades, especially because the older ones are getting ready to exit. Like Chad said very soon, but the trades are very hungry for young, bright people who just also happen to like to work with their hands. And there's a lot of room for them. And I would just really love to see a little bit of a shift and we have to get the word out there. That trades are a good place to be.

Josh Smith (10:53):

Yeah. Anything else? Um,

Amy Hart (10:55):

I think also, I guess I'll go off on a little side tangent too, about young women too specifically. I think there is a lot of, and not just with plumbing, just in the trades. I think there's a lot of room for young women. I know at least we're from Florida. I know in our area, unfortunately I feel like I see a lot of young women and up into, I hate to use the term dead end jobs, but that's, what's happening too. I think a lot of these young girls they're leaving high school. They either don't want to go to college or they don't have the means to go to college. There's not really any training out there for them without a degree. And they end up working in lower paying jobs and just, it's a sad thing I think for me to see. And I think a lot of them don't even consider the trades.

Josh Smith (11:41):

I think a lot of them aren't even aware exactly how much they could make as a, from a career perspective, like being in the trades. It's interesting because there are some cases I talk with some owners who have female technicians, plumbers, age, and you probably experienced this, that your customer base really appreciates it offer.

Chad Hart (12:03):

She's a mother of four,

Josh Smith (12:04):

All that

Chad Hart (12:06):

On a cake and her husband's a plumber. I'll allow, that's all credible family that plumbed together stays together.

Josh Smith (12:13):

Yeah. I couldn't agree with you more. I think that's,

Amy Hart (12:16):

I do think for young women, I, that is where I really do hope that there's a shift and I think women have a lot to bring

Chad Hart (12:23):

Attention to detail. They have more attention to detail than the men plumbers like, cause they look at that house and they're like, how would I want to leave this? If it was my house. So they are very clean and very detail oriented, you know, they take their time, they explain things better than the male plumbers a lot of time. Wow. So if I could have a crew of female plumbers. Oh yeah. Awesome.

Josh Smith (12:44):

And then you could have the female plumbers pit against the male plumbers and see who does better and healthy competition. Right? No toxicity. Toxicity. Yeah. What about you, Chad? Anything you'd want to see?

Chad Hart (12:55):

I would love to see traits come back to high schools. Yeah. I would love to see a shop class back in there, even anything to like welding class. I mean, because plumbing class, isn't going to be super popular. Welding AC. I'd love to see it all back. Some sort of anything to like, just give them a taste. Yeah. I mean, just give that taste and see if it's some ways as ma I kind of like that. Yeah. You know? Cause that never hurts. Sometimes once people get that taste, then they want the whole thing. Yeah. And I would love to see them bring it back. Cause like, even like say schools don't even have typing class anymore because you already know how to type when you're six years old. Yeah. Right. Or home economics. Like you can't even, kids don't even know how to cook, you know? I mean, it's just, they don't have anything like that anymore. It's all about tech and

Josh Smith (13:41):

Yeah. Yeah. Coding.

Chad Hart (13:43):

Oh yeah, exactly. But I would love to see it back in schools, at least one semester of something in school, but it's just, they just don't do it. I would love to see, um, even young millennials try it. Yeah. I mean, cause they've always been steered to college and they get out of college and they don't have anything to do. Yeah. Definitely. A lot of them don't they now they're in debt. Yeah. And you know, I think I read something one time where a kid that starts at 18 years old and goes to a trade school or goes into the trains and a kid at 18 years old that goes into college and has four years of debt and goes in there. The guy that went to college, doesn't pass the trades guy until age 53 and making money. Holy cow, because you got to pay off the debt. And at some, I can't remember where I read it at, it was in a PHC magazine or plumbing heating, cooling magazine or something like that, where it takes that long for that college kid to pass. Cause this kid at 18 is already getting promoted, journeyman, master, whatever. I mean it's constantly learning and getting paid more. Yeah. Over time, whatever. Yeah. About 53 is a long time.

Josh Smith (14:45):

Yeah. I think, you know, when you, it depends on the degree you go into college for too. But I think we're finding a lot of things like degrees in college where it's like the companies are valuing the experience more than they are that the greenest. So unless you're in a tactical degree, like, you know, like a medical degree or engineering, something like that. But standard business degrees, it's like get the on-site experience. That's more valuable to us. You know,

Chad Hart (15:08):

My service manager I'm, I'm actually pretty fortunate. He actually graduated with a four-year business degree from towns and university and a Washington DC area. And decided after he went into a guy job, he didn't like it. And he started an apprenticeship do plumbing. So he basically has stayed with the same company for 20 years. Wow. I mean, he's got his master plumbers, license, master gas and a business degree. Wow. Where do you find that? Yeah. You don't know? He's like gold. Yeah.

Josh Smith (15:38):

Well this has been awesome. Chad, Amy, I really appreciate your time in the booth as we're kind of closing out here, um, just want to go to each of you and if there's anything you want to kind of impart any wisdom advice you want to impart to our listeners. Love to hear that. So Chad, let's start with you.

Chad Hart (15:52):

I would say the thing that I've learned since being in business is never sacrifice time for the business for time for your family and learn the word now because you don't get that time back. Once you, you think you're trying to grow a business and you got a kid's birthday card need to go to, or something go to the kid's birthday party because it's not worth it. Yeah. And I, cause I sacrifice it. So I know from experience with that. So learn the word now and put your family first. Yeah,

Josh Smith (16:18):

We'll be there. Absolutely. Amy, what about you?

Amy Hart (16:22):

And I'll just, we're a plumber. So I'll say plumbing, blood in any trade in general. I think with us it's people first plumbing. Second. I think we're in the people business first. I think any, any industry is that way really? You're you're in the people business first and what you specialize in should come second. I look at that with our employees, with our customers, everybody, I feel like we're kind of in hospitality too, in a way really. And the plumbing is just the means of at all, but yeah, people first and everything and it fits right with the people. Then the decision

Josh Smith (16:57):

Plumbing surrounded by a Ritz Carlton experience, A white glove. There you go. Don't give that one to anyone. Well, I really appreciate the time from both of you. Where can we find out more about continental plus

Chad Hart (17:11):

Kano plumbing.net? I mean perfect. That's that's our website and scorpion builds it so

Josh Smith (17:17):

Well. Chad, Amy, it's been awesome having you guys in the booth two episodes down and I really appreciate your time and coming out to be with us.

Chad Hart (17:25):

Thanks for having us. Thank

Amy Hart (17:26):

You. It was a pleasure being

Josh Smith (17:27):

Here. Awesome. And for everybody listening definitely hit that subscribe button wherever you might be at. So you can get more of this awesome content from all of us here at the sharpest tool. We'll catch you next time. Thanks.

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