The Sharpest Tool™

Defining Quality In the Home Services Industry

Cheryl McRae
Josh Smith
Howie Metz is the owner and founder of Quality First Plumbing & Heating based out of Denver, CO. Since 2008, Howie and his wife have created a home services business known for its family-run, family-based, family-values approach and high-quality service.

Josh Smith (00:03):

[inaudible] hello and welcome back to the sharpest tool. This is Josh Smith, your host, where we take the sting out of marketing with everything that we're bringing to the table. I'm always amped up when we have a phenomenal guest in the booth. And today I have Howie Mets of quality first based out of Denver, Colorado in the booth with us today to talk about some stuff. Howie. Welcome. Thank you. Great to be here. How you enjoy in California so far, it's

Howie Metz (00:26):

Everything the commercials say it is the first time ever here and it's gorgeous.

Josh Smith (00:31):

Awesome. Well, why don't you give the listeners a little bit of insight into you, your business and where you're at and

Howie Metz (00:37):

Business journey? Well, my business is a home service slash commercial repair, plumbing heating and air conditioning company. We started in 2008 out of my house and my wife and I decided that we were going to bring a product that's typically predatory and make it family run, family based family values and not scare people into doing things that they don't need to do. And that was basically the foundation of what we started and in the 10 and a half years, now that we've been in business, it's infectious, what we started. So it's pretty awesome. What a great ride.

Josh Smith (01:15):

How did you get into the trade? You've been in it for about 10 and a half years. What were you doing before you started

Howie Metz (01:20):

Business? In 1985, I was in Brooklyn, New York, and I had some family pass away and my brother lived in Denver. He's a bit older than me. And he started a drain cleaning company. I went to work for him and I was really bad at it. It was, it was comical how bad I was, but then after a few months I got it, it started clicking in. I enjoyed it. Then I started learning the plumbing trade. I earned my master plumbers license. So I went from drain cleaning to plumbing repair, and we grew his business to be sizeable. And he taught me some of the values that we exercise today. Yeah.

Josh Smith (01:58):

What prompted you to start quality first tenant

Howie Metz (02:01):

And a half years ago? Well, my brother and I had a little bit of a falling out and I being a tradesman needed a job. So I figured I'd start one up. And we had the house, I just went and bought a truck. We spent all of our savings. The thing about what really catapulted us was I developed a lot of relationships over time. And many of those relationship based clients followed me and they just shot us forward. And we still do business with them today. And that's incredible. It's a really great story. And it's not just about money. It's about solving their problem, not selling them things that they don't necessarily need giving them options, but looking out for their best interests first, instead of my own. And that really set us apart.

Josh Smith (02:46):

What's your favorite part about running the business? The way that you've kind of grown into?

Howie Metz (02:51):

That's an easy one. All of my employees, we have 36 employees right now and we're built on a foundation of trust and integrity, but above all else, I help them make their dreams come true. And in turn they helped me make mine come true. It's a very cool circle. That's the way it works out. We're always family first.

Josh Smith (03:11):

What are those core values? How did you come to develop those? Did you grow up with those or were those things instilled in later?

Howie Metz (03:17):

Well, they were instilled a little bit later in life, but it's the way that Laurie, my wife and I raised our children. My son is 26 years old part of the business and he opens the door for his mother. It's the little stuff, because we pay attention to the details because we go out of our way to be nice and do the right thing.

Josh Smith (03:36):

Yeah. I want to dive into your business theme quality first. There's so much wrapped around that. What made you decide to use that business name and what does that mean to you?

Howie Metz (03:46):

A lot of the people that I know in the business, I mean, it's a big little community as far as the plumbing business goes. And what we found was just punch out as many calls as you possibly can in a day, clear the boards. So you can go home. And what lacked in that equation is quality. And when my wife and I were sitting around discussing what we were going to call our company, now what's our baby going to be named kind of theme. You know, when you have a baby I've had three and you put a lot of thought into the name. And we said quality first, because it's the most important aspect of what we do and quality lasts. And so it all just came together. So quality first plumbing because quality lasts and it just stuck. And it works today

Josh Smith (04:32):

In growing the business the way that you did, I'm sure there were a lot of challenges with actually maintaining that quality first focus because you're scaling, you're bringing new people into the business. What was one of the biggest challenges that you had to get over? And how'd you overcome it.

Howie Metz (04:49):

A lot of tradesmen who start a company, what they do is they are the company and the product. They leave behind as a product of their best self. And when we recruit people and bring them in, they have to demonstrate their abilities to us. And even if you're with us for seven years, one guy just celebrated seven years with our company. We go, when we check them, we do spot checks, but every single call we complete, we call the customer and make sure that they're a hundred percent happy. We actually are soliciting complaints because most people who have a problem, won't complain. But if I'm going to ask you, and if there's an issue, a lot of times we'll go out and look at what we left behind because they have to do the job as good as I would. And all of my guys do a better job than me. That's awesome.

Josh Smith (05:38):

Um, would you say that maintaining the consistency across all the texts as you bring on new Texas? Probably one of the biggest,

Howie Metz (05:46):

It is the biggest challenge someplace that has a set set of procedures in the way that they do or deliver their product from start to finish where human and there's going to be something missed and we're not perfect. We strive to be, it is a relentless pursuit to coin a phrase, but yeah, we do the best we can to remain as consistent as we can all the time.

Josh Smith (06:10):

The quality aspect mean to your customers based on the feedback that you got.

Howie Metz (06:14):

And they know that we triple check everything that we do. We ask them while we're on site, if they're happy with the results we provided, we keep them informed during the process. Yeah. It's kind of different than what you would typically expect out of a service provider.

Josh Smith (06:31):

And that's a big differentiator

Howie Metz (06:32):

For you. It's a big differentiator because the guys are not rushed. Like a lot of my competition, I can't say most, but a lot of my competition, they get in, get it done, get out.

Josh Smith (06:41):

What are some of the things that you do in order to really keep up with the changing landscape? The marketing landscape's constantly changing the home services world is changing. Probably it looks a lot different than it did 10 years ago when he started, how do you keep up with

Howie Metz (06:56):

All of that? We keep in front of everything from best practices, in terms of new tools, new methods of joining pipe. As simple as that may sound, it's always evolving, but we completely embrace technology. We take pictures before, during after. So there's no question. If a customer may have forgotten something, they said on the phone, when they were booking the call, they have the capability of listening to that call on the job site and just using technology to everyone's advantage. Sure makes us do a better job, a longer lasting job. And there's complete accountability. Nothing is invisible.

Josh Smith (07:34):

We've talked a lot about tax. I know that from my experience with some home service professionals and talking with them, this is one of the biggest challenges today, getting the right people on the bus as it were. How do you go about finding the right people for your business?

Howie Metz (07:48):

Well, it starts out with what seems to be a very ridiculously easy process. When we get somebody to respond to our recruiting ad, or we talk to somebody at a supply house, or however it may be, we require three things and everyone in my company can recite those three things. You need to be on time, which any more is becoming a novelty rather than when I was growing up, it was expected five minutes early. It was on time. But being on time, being sober and also giving a hundred percent of your best self. And what that means is it may not be the same as someone else's a hundred percent, but I just need you to give a hundred percent of your best self. And if you can do that consistently, sure. You'll have a future with our company because this isn't just a stop along the way. Yeah. We want this to be a career. We have families, who've recruited family because they really enjoy where they work. And that's the environment that we try to embrace every single day.

Josh Smith (08:42):

Would you say your texts say about quality first in terms of the ones who have been around for a while? What are the things about the business that stand out most to

Howie Metz (08:50):

And attacks? The thing that stands out probably the most is our sense of family and our family values. We have some younger people with younger families, and I expect some of the guys and gals in the office when their kid has a recital or something. Don't ask me if you can go, just let me know when it is. So I know you're going to be there. I didn't enjoy that kind of thing. I missed out on a lot of stuff because you only get to go through this once I get to live it now through my grandchildren. But I see the reaction that our people have when yeah, how he wants me to go and see my kid get a metal. One of my directors just yesterday, his son won an award at school and he sent a text to everyone in the company and the responses he got, congratulations, Kaden. And he showed it to a son and a son got a shiver. It's not just about turning orange, fixing a leak, unplugging a sewer. It's about what's really important. And that's the family time.

Josh Smith (09:46):

And you maintain that. And I presume that that aspect is key and instrumental to actually retaining texts. We talk about hiring tax. That's one aspect of it. But the other half of that is how do you retain them? Keep them engaged with the business operations. I'm sure that culture plays a factor in it. And is there anything else you do to maintain that engagement?

Howie Metz (10:09):

Well, Josh, that's another really easy question. Thanks for keeping these easy. My company is not developed based on my recipe. My company is based on the ingredients that each individual puts into love that the soup that we make yeah. And being heard, it was important effecting change when change is necessary. And when people play a part in that, they actually feel like they're part as corny as it sounds. Yeah. It's a team and absolutely everybody's opinion matters. It's not to say, I promise whatever your idea is. I'm going to put in place and we don't run it by vote. But man, if you've got a good idea, tell me about it. Let's put it in place and everybody wins. Yeah. What would you say

Josh Smith (10:52):

Is the biggest challenge today that you're facing as a business owner in the trades?

Howie Metz (10:57):

The biggest challenge is finding people who actually still have a work ethic. Again, being on time. I don't hire what we call affectionately in the trades, butts and trucks. We don't, I could probably be a 50 or 75 truck operation, but then I'm going to lack quality. I'm going to lack consistency. There's a lot of people we don't hire and they want to come to work for us. But some people just don't cut the mustard and we look for that diamond.

Josh Smith (11:25):

Yeah. And that takes a lot of time and investment of resources and waiting and patience in order to make that happen. That's, it's all of that. I think if you're building a sustainable business, that's something that's vital is making sure that the culture's retained. That's one of the biggest challenges as you scale and you grow is making sure the culture is consistent.

Howie Metz (11:42):

That's right. And I will never sacrifice my culture for a buck. Yeah. I won't. Absolutely.

Josh Smith (11:48):

So what tools in your business arsenal have you really found to be most influential in business growth?

Howie Metz (11:56):

The sense of relationship doing the right thing? When no one's looking yeah. Is a big one. It remains a challenge and it will be a challenge for a long time because you know, kids are groomed, go to college, get a degree and then hope you're going to use that degree. And when we are approached, I go to high schools and I talk to kids. And if you're good with your hands, this may be a viable alternative for you. Whether it be a plumber or a heating guy or an electrician, the trades are suffering because of the population of experienced people is dwindling. Yeah. That's the single biggest challenge. I hope I answered your question. Yeah. The right way. But it will remain a challenge for a while.

Josh Smith (12:35):

Is there any challenge or experience that you went through throughout the course of the past 10 and a half years that sticks out in your mind as like, you know what, this was one of the toughest things I've ever had to go through, but on the backend of that you learn something really valuable from it. What would that be? And what was your takeaway?

Howie Metz (12:52):

I'm a very trusting person. I trust almost everyone unless I have a reason not to and much to my detriment. Yeah. I had a guy who took advantage of my trust and it costs tens of thousands of dollars in theft, but it was caught, we looked our wounds, we moved on. But what I learned from another person in the trades and some of the groups that I'm in is trust, but verify. Yeah. And that's the practice that we have now because we just have to, yeah,

Josh Smith (13:21):

That's crazy. If you had one piece of advice that you could give somebody who is listening, who's trying to grow their business,

Howie Metz (13:29):

What would it be? Well, the first thing you have to do is you have to have a mission. You have to understand the why of what you're doing. This is not just the living and it is that it provides food and all of that for families. Yeah. But you've got to have another thing. For example, I always wanted to be able to give to charities that were near and dear to me and I support three of them on a very regular basis. And the sense of giving back, just the feeling that you get. I swear, it's a high because you're doing good for other people and we don't broadcast it. We don't do it for recognition. We do it because it's the right thing to do. And it really resonates within our company. If we get somebody that's down on their luck and their furnace goes out, I'll get guys volunteer to go and do it.

Howie Metz (14:17):

And my might even get the supply house to donate all or a part of the equipment and we'll go make them whole, and they're warm and fuzzy and they cry. And that feels good. But it's about the why. And a lot of people pass that by when they start their business, because it's just about the money, but it isn't, it's much bigger than that. What would you say your, why is Howie? My, why is my family? That's without question, my family wants for nothing and they are as giving as my wife and I have always been. So we really passed on a pretty good legacy. We don't try to pull things over. Everything's not always a win. Yeah. I want to come across, like everything is peaches and cream and unicorns and all that. It's not, but we have a very specific common goal and that's to satisfy the needs of our customers and make them our biggest fans so that they refer friends and family to us. So we can display the same integrity to them. Yeah. There's the why. Yeah. It's not just unplugging a toilet. It's not just fixing a thermostat. It's not just that. That's how we generate revenue. Yeah. But it's what you do with it. After that, it contributes to my Y

Josh Smith (15:32):

So overlooked so often in business. And I think we're seeing a bit of a movement. You see this with all the professional speakers and the positive thinking stuff that's coming out and surfacing and people are thirsting for it almost, but they don't know how to put it into words. And so I think he did that so succinctly, because it is about that. There's gotta be something deeper driving cause money only satiates for a certain period of time. And then you get to a point where it no longer as a motivator

Howie Metz (15:57):

That's right. Money expires, but integrity doesn't ever until you die. Yeah. But every company meeting, I had one guy come up to me and say, it's kind of like a rah rah, but my company meetings start, the room is 63 degrees. Everybody's awake at seven 30 in the morning. And they walk into the room with ACDC on or something like that just to get them rushing just to get them going. And then we start out with a motivational video that someone in the company told me about. Yeah. And we play that video and I get to look and watch the faces of engagement. And then you've got to go into a positive meeting with that positive push. I love that. And it really does affect everyone. And that's probably the best day of the month for us. When we're all together.

Josh Smith (16:48):

Do you think is the motivating factor or catalyst when it comes to the millennial generation, the younger generation, when they get in the trades, what is it that

Howie Metz (16:56):

Drives them? When we do the interview process, we ask all of the direct questions that you would expect, but then we throw curve balls. If you were a car, what kind of car would you be? We ask questions like that to try and get them comfortable and think out of the box. I personally love the millennial generation because they are so far advanced in technology. And I love it. My parents used to have to ask me how to work the VCR. If you even know what that is. I mean, it goes back to programming that things. So you can record a show to today. The computer you have in front of you used to have to occupy an entire room for its memory and embracing all of that technology and showing these millennials, these tools that we use to help them be better at their job. We love having millennials come in the office. Yeah, we just do.

Josh Smith (17:50):

That's awesome. Well, this has been awesome. Tying this up with a bow. Is there anything in closing you want to give our listeners a business owners listening?

Howie Metz (17:57):

Well, I really appreciate the opportunity to explore scorpion. I just want to say scorpion has been instrumental in the growth of our home services side because we were focused a lot on commercial multi-family and that kind of thing. But because the home service business has proven itself to be very predatory and we're not, scorpion has just exploded our residential service where we used to be 90% commercial and 10% residential. Now we're about 60% commercial and 40% residential and growing every day. Wow. And I attribute a lot of that to the relationship that I have with scorpion. You have a set budget and you don't spend it it's because it's not just there and just pull it out of the pot, but it works for us. And I've been through several. And my relationship here has just been incredible. And I want to thank you guys for helping us get to the next level.

Josh Smith (18:54):

Absolutely. I mean, that's what we're here for. And it working with business owners like yourself, this is exactly why we do what we do and come into the office every single day is providing value and helping you

Howie Metz (19:07):

68. But you walk into an office like this and you make eye contact with somebody and they say hello. And they smile. And knowing that that's the kind of business that I'm involved with, you can't help. But when it's pretty awesome,

Josh Smith (19:20):

I'm kind of curious to dive into this cause I sense a bit of tension towards marketing companies that you've probably dealt with in the past. The ones that you've worked with that have been instrumental in not just the business growth from a production standpoint, but the ones that have been earning of your trust, trust and integrity are a massive component to how you operate. What is it about whether it's scorpion or the other businesses that you've had to work with in the past that have made that impact? What should business owners look for in those types of companies?

Howie Metz (19:50):

The first thing you do is you open the checkbook and you go and you trust. Yeah. I don't have to seek out verification of that trust with scorpion monthly. I get a report, at least monthly. I speak to my account manager monthly. We make tweaks, we change this, we change that, but I'm not an internet marketing guru. I am a great plumber. I want to be a great businessman. And that's what I want to work on. And I found an expert that not only does what they say they're going to do, but they prove it. Sure. I was dealing with other companies where I felt that the numbers were being manipulated. Sure. Because the numbers they were showing me versus what we were doing in business, didn't match up. And now there's a hundred percent transparency, a hundred percent accountability. And it's just a pleasure doing business with people like that. Yeah, it just is. And that's the experience that I want my customers to have with us. And I don't deserve anything less than that. And I think that's what I'm getting with scorpion. Google is the company that makes the user experience for searching for things on the internet pleasurable and your relationship there just brings the whole thing together. Awesome. It's just,

Josh Smith (21:08):

Don't really great. Well that makes me happy to hear that. Especially working with the team that I do internally, that's all I could ever hope to hear for. So I'm glad to hear that the relationship is how

Howie Metz (21:19):

Now it is. It's almost three years old to the day that's incorrect and it's getting better and better.

Josh Smith (21:24):

Well, how we thank you so much for taking the Josh, stepping into the booth. We'll have to have your best was a blast. Yeah. It's always fun in here. Good time. And for everybody listening definitely hit that subscribe button wherever you might be listening at that you can listen for more updates of the sharpest tool every Tuesday. Once again, my name is Josh Smith and until next time I'll see you then.

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