The Sharpest Tool™

Ellen Rohr Part 2 | The 6 Steps You Need to Build a Better Business Plan

Cheryl McRae
Josh Smith

Ellen Rohr is the President and Franchise Operations Manager of ZOOM DRAIN. As a home services business makeover expert, she also offers consulting and often contributes to publications like Wells Fargo and HGTV magazines.

Ellen shares that her expertise comes from her own journey as a plumber’s wife and entrepreneur, which you can hear more about in Part 1 of her interview.

Josh Smith (00:03):

Hello. And welcome back to the sharpest tool where we take this thing out of marketing. And we're back in the booth with round two with Ellen Rohr. So welcome back, Ellen.

Ellen Rohr (00:13):

This is my favorite place to be right here. We're having a conversation. We're helping people out and we're having fun. Yes.

Josh Smith (00:19):

Fun part is always what I'm about. In our last episode, we talked a lot about finances, getting your balance sheets in order, and really understanding some of the financial aspects of business money, honey, ha money, honey. And we're going to talk a bit more about the business side today, business planning. So why don't you reintroduce yourself to our listeners who maybe didn't listen to last episode and give us kind of that thousand foot bird's eye view of who

Ellen Rohr (00:41):

Ellen Rohr, plumber's wife, owner, and franchise operations I love to be of service and most of what I share comes from my own experience as an entrepreneur, as the wife of a technician and working with many, many business owners over the years. So it's so much fun to talk about business planning. I'll tell you how I got into it. Let me start with that. Okay. So my introduction into becoming a woke. Oh, is that word already like

Josh Smith (01:16):

Woke is like legit. There's some hip hop artists that use that word

Ellen Rohr (01:20):

Three years. Oh, well, I got woke about business through the financial part. And many people may have found their way to conscious business ownership because they didn't have any money. Right. They were broke. They were hating it. Why did I do this? I'm off track. And then you start to read the books and talk to people and get your business fixed. Or that's the intent. As we fixed our business through the help of great mentors, money buys options, we have more money. I turned to my husband, my business partner, and I say, this is great. A year ago, we were up to our eyeballs in debt. Now we're like stock piling money. This is awesome. And I asked him the quintessential business planning question. Yeah. What do you want? What next? What is it that you want? Let's go get it. Like, this is like, when you have money, instead of the question being, how are we going to make payroll?

Ellen Rohr (02:16):

Now you've afforded yourselves the luxury, the options, the freedom to ask this big question, what do I want? And he said to me, I don't want any of this. I want to work all by myself. I don't love this. And what I realized in that moment is one, it's a really good question. And two is, we were not on the same page. Like I, at the same time we had a four truck outfit and I'm starting to think, well, what if we doubled it, got the calculator out, you know, old school. And then I'm looking at the neighborhoods we could go to and how we could build this thing. And we had two separate visions and business planning is the process by which you clarify your intention and move to aligned action, intention and action. Another way to think of it is to dream act and test.

Ellen Rohr (03:10):

Are we on the right track? Yeah. Plan, execute, debrief. You know that you've heard this idea of you start big picture and make sure you're going towards the same point on the horizon. And then what are the goals and the projects that are going to move you in that direction? So business planning starts with that high level thinking, you know, why are we doing this? What do we want to do? Who's involved. How much money do we want to make? How much time do we want and take all those journalistic questions that you're so good at asking. Those are business planning questions. So you get a chance to be vulnerable, to find out what the other one wants. And at first, when my husband is literally firing me, I was not happy about it. However, it just like opened up this next chapter of my life, where I quit trying to make my husband different.

Ellen Rohr (03:57):

I've been married for 35 years and the last 15 have been awesome because I quit trying to change him. And so if you're trying to change your business partner or your husband or your kids, I mean, there's plenty of work to do in your own hula hope and your own responsibility in life I believe is to do. You were all well-served when you ask and answer these questions for yourself, and then you're going to magnetize other like-minded people. And if you're not on the same page with your dad or your husband, wouldn't it be okay to not work together? Can you feel the emotional response that someone might have to these questions burden that's lifted or this fear? It just sends, like, I can't let some of my clients, I have literally said to him, you don't have to wait for your dad to die.

Ellen Rohr (04:48):

Right? You could leave. You can start your own business. You may not get invited to Thanksgiving this year, but probably will next year. You know, you may be able to repair the relationship, but too many people are trying to get someone else to make their dreams come true. And I didn't even realize the extent to which I was doing that until we had this conversation. He just didn't want what I wanted. So at that point, we decided to sell our company. I'm proud to say that hot rod, and Jaak still rolls trucks in park city, Utah, 25 years after we left, Geox died. Hot rod moved, you know, hot rod and I are still married. And the business goes on. As Howard says, your business is a vehicle to drive you in the direction of your dreams. So your dreams are senior to your business.

Ellen Rohr (05:34):

And business planning is all about what is the dream? What's the ideal. And you make it up. There's no blue light that starts flashing. This is all theoretical. It's all you and whatever spirituality you have, those are the conversations. And you want to work through it with team members. This is what I'm thinking. What do you think? So business planning is the process where you start big picture like that, and then you move it down to, okay, what are we going to do today? What is aligned? The clearer you are on your intention, the less action you'll have to take. So if you had to choose between intention and action, intention, Trump's action.

Josh Smith (06:12):

Okay. For business owners who don't have a business point, how do you see that impacting their business? When you go in and coach some of these business owners?

Ellen Rohr (06:19):

Well, I wrote a book once called the bare bones business plan, and it's like 120 pages. And it takes you through the six week plan. I don't think anyone's ever done it in six weeks or done all of it. Yeah. So then the next book I wrote was called the weekend biz plan, which is 60 pages with pictures. It just, how simple can we make this process at zoom drain? We put our business plan together through Al seven power concepts. So chances are good. If you're listening, you probably have on your shelf, some model that would work, or you might even have a business plan that you did. If you did, I would encourage you to pull that back out. Like whatever you've done along these lines, you took a seminar, you listen to a consultant, you went to a workshop, whatever you've done, dust that off.

Ellen Rohr (07:08):

What did we say? Chances are very good. That things that you wrote down have come to pass, just that think it, and then say it and ink it and act on it. That is the path to creation. That's how things come from thought form to physical form. That's how you make a chair. Right? Okay. So the same thing. So if you ever did that process, remind yourself that it works, you know that you've done it and you can improve on it. Yeah. The language that I, all of the gurus are going to adopt their own language for this. And the process that I use goes through these areas of business, Al has the seven power concepts. Howard has this phenomenal steps. John Maxwell has his sear. Everybody has names for basically the same processes. We do that for branding. Okay. Just so you don't get confused with this.

Ellen Rohr (07:59):

And I would read a lot of books, become an expert and pull through these bits of information, the few pieces that really land with you and use them or adopt one and try it without any other conversation and then start getting more information. Does that make sense? Okay. I feel like I'm getting a little scattered with this, but let me describe my process. So the name of the steps that I put together, setting site, building the team, making money, getting it sold, getting it done and making sure. So those are the different areas of your business setting site is the visionary stuff. The mission statement, your value proposition, your goals for this year, how much money do you want to make? How many trucks do you want to have? What does it look like? Make a vision board vision board could be half of your business plan.

Ellen Rohr (08:51):

You know, just something that helps you clarify what it is that you want and why. And then building the team now, who would, I need to make this happen? Some of them are going to be lauded partners like scorpion. You know that you're going to find, they don't have to be employees, our vendors. We treat like employees, their team members. Yeah. We're going to help you do a good job for us, right? So who do you need? You need an accountant. You need somebody to answer the phone. Part-time your, name's going to be in. Most of those boxes put together an org chart, but put together what the team would look like. Yeah. Then making money is known financial position, a weekly scorecard, like the financial quick check, you know, a dashboard report where we are month end checklist to make sure you close a month, get to them known financial position, little budget in place.

Ellen Rohr (09:38):

And then when you do that, chances are good. You're going to have to charge more when you start crunching the numbers. Oh man, my selling price is going to have to go up. If that's the case, you're going to have to get better at marketing and sales, I don't teach marketing and sales. So this is where you can get information from other gurus. From the inner circle, our industry has an army of great sales trainers. You've probably had most of them on your show so far, there's great sales information out there become a better marketer, a better salesperson. And then once you make that promise, here's what I'm going to do for you, Mrs. Fern, Wiki, for all that money you're going to give me and you've got to make good on your promise. That's getting it done. That systems and procedures, processes, it's getting projects done at your company. And then the last step is making sure am I on the right track? Is all of this moving the numbers? Am I living a better life than I thought I was? It goes back to the front. In fact, this isn't like a step by step. It's more of a back and forth, back and forth, back and forth that you're in these different areas. But by naming those areas, it helps you get your arms around what needs to be done to put a little plan together.

Josh Smith (10:47):

Absolutely. Let's dive head first into the business plan a bit more. Those are the different areas that you would say a business plan should include. So what qualities do you find in a good plan and a good leader who's developing that,

Ellen Rohr (11:02):

That it's written. Yeah. So you might then use those terms for the tabs on a binder. Okay. So the first binder is setting site and you spend an hour with your team, put a time limit on it. Cause this stuff can go on forever. We're going to meet and we're going to talk about why we're here and people are going to go, what? And when the hour's over, whatever three words you wrote down, that's your starting mission statement. Like you can come back to it, but now it's written three hole punch put in the binder. Yeah. Okay. And then the org chart, building the team in the building, the team tab, you print out your org chart without pencil three hole, punch it, put it in the binder. Could you use Google drive for this or one drive share. If you want to do it electronic, we do it both. Right. We'll do it in writing. And then we'll also do it. So having it written is essential. The most important. Yeah. And you have a binder. So you show this new kid it's and you want to hire one guy and you say, here's my plan. Do you see that? Like just that make someone go, who's got a plan.

Josh Smith (12:02):

Yeah. So you've developed a few resources that our listener might be interested in. What are some of those? You mentioned the bare bones weekend or the bare bones business.

Ellen Rohr (12:10):

A good introduction to my philosophy and approach would be this little book I put together. It's $4 and 95 cents on my website called the weekend biz plan. So go to and you just look forward under my catalog. I think it's the first book and that will get you started. And if that voice resonates with you. Great. So I recommend you audition people when you want to. Like, I needed someone to help me with sales and marketing, go to one of the webinars. And I put on webinars all the time at zoom, we do webinars. So you can see, is that voice going to resonate with me? Or is that no, not a good fit audition. Someone don't necessarily drop $150,000 with someone until you've read the book, gone to the webinar, gone to the first meeting. Do you see where I'm going? Because inside there's a lot of people who could help you inside those people is their personality, their prejudices, and then the community that they bring to the party. And you want to look for someone for whom that's a good fit. So I know you you're being nice to like help me steer them in a specific direction. So the weekend biz plan is a good start to

Josh Smith (13:19):


Ellen Rohr (13:21):

So Ellen we're dot com and put your name and email, get on my list and then find a weekend biz plan. That would be helpful.

Josh Smith (13:27):

Awesome. Are there any other pieces when it comes to the training cycle that boil into the business plan, getting people kind of on board, you've mentioned like you do it, they do it role play real world. How does that factor into the execution component of the business?

Ellen Rohr (13:44):

So if you start your plan and you start fleshing out those areas of your business plan, when you get to the, getting it done, section of your plan, this is where we're going to focus on written procedures. So a procedure is really how you build an empire. It's what we do at zoom drain. I'm not looking for extraordinary people who just happen to know how we do things. I'm looking for willing and capable people, and we're going to train them. We don't whine about, I can't find great people. We believe there's lots of great people. So what are we going to do to help them create a job? And it's everything to do with a procedure. A procedure is a checklist and the training cycle is one way to use a procedure. But instead of telling, telling, telling someone, if you have it written, the training cycle is let's read through this, okay?

Ellen Rohr (14:34):

Now I'm going to do it. And you're going to watch me and see if I follow the procedure, right? I'm going to refer to the procedure. Any questions. Now you do it. You can read the procedure. I'm not trying to get them to memorize it. Take the procedure with you on your tablet in Google drive is that, you know, you don't have to memorize any of this just to use those procedures. But so often training in our industry is some guy telling you, okay, once you do this, this, this, and this, you got it. And you're going, aha. And then you're disappointed. They are. They feel like you throw them under the bus. You feel like you can't trust anybody. And we are not really set up for a guy day, right after that, this is Al levy 1 0 1 Howard's very systematically driven. Zoom is a very procedurally driven company. You'll know that you've got something. As far as the plan that's being executed. When you hear one of your team members say to another team member, we need a procedure for that. Isn't that delicious? Yeah. Like you just go, oh yes. That's not where we were five years ago. Now it takes awhile. But that's the culture you want to create.

Josh Smith (15:42):

Yeah. Well this has been awesome. LA, I think we're out of time. We're going to have to have you back for like three and four and five and 10.

Ellen Rohr (15:51):

I love you. I love what you're doing. Thank you for the soap box. Just so important to have these conversations. So thank you so much.

Josh Smith (15:59):

The sharpest tool to close it out for this episode. Where can people find out more about you?

Ellen Rohr (16:04):

Ellen Rohr, E L L E N R O H and zoom See what we're up to at zoom drain as well. You'll see those procedures in the systems and actions.

Josh Smith (16:15):

I feel like we need a jingle for Ellen, so

Ellen Rohr (16:19):

Yoga to hear me roar.

Josh Smith (16:25):

Great. Awesome. Well, thank you again, Alan, for being here and for everybody listening definitely hit that subscribe button wherever you might be at. So you can get more of the sauce and content. And from all of us here at the sharpest tool, we'll catch you next time. Thanks.

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