The Sharpest Tool™

Roger Wakefield Part 1 | Why Chaos May Help You Find Your Focus

Roger Wakefield is the founder of Texas Green Plumbing, a Green Certified Plumber, speaker, and successful YouTuber whose channel focuses on plumbing and trade advice. He shares what his 40 years of experience in the industry have taught him, from the importance of processes and planning to finding focus in chaos and spotting marketing red flags.

Josh Smith (00:03):

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the sharpest tool podcast, where we take the sting out of marketing with everything that we're bringing to the table. My name is Josh Smith. I am the vice president of marketing for home services over at scorpion. And I will be your host today. And with me in the virtual booth, here is Roger Wakefield from Texas green plumbing. Roger has been a master plumber with over 40 years of experience as a plumber in the state of Texas. I he's got an endorsement, you know, offered by the state and he's also a green certified plumber. He's an owner, he's a speaker. He's got extensive years in the trade and you know, he's just, he's a great person to have on the podcast here. His YouTube channel even has over 50,000 subscribers. Let's take a minute to welcome Roger to the sharpest tool. Welcome him.

Roger Wakefield (00:48):

Thanks Josh. How are you doing today? I'm

Josh Smith (00:50):

Doing all right. It's Monday morning. My voice sounds a little boom year than normal, but I guess that's to be expected and coming off of a weekend. How are you doing?

Roger Wakefield (00:58):

Yeah, we're actually doing a fantastic, you know, I get excited about Mondays cause it's just, it's a whole new week of opportunity.

Josh Smith (01:03):

I love that. I love that outlook actually. That's really good. And it's good for us. Obviously when business owners who are listening to this, that kind of have a perspective like that. You know, every new, every day is a new day new opportunity to make something happen in the business and learn from yesterday's mistakes yesterday, successes and move into something new. So that's great. Great perspective. Cool. Well, let's dive right into a bit about your background. I'd love to get to know you a bit more and have our listeners get to know you a bit more. Give us some context, 40 years in the trade. How'd you get started?

Roger Wakefield (01:34):

I actually got started while I was still in high school. I quit school. My junior year, I was managing a restaurant, a burger joint, and I had a real good friend of mine working with me. And we were working together one night and he literally, it was slow. And he talks to me says, so where are you going to do this forever? I thought, man, I'm 16. I'm managing a restaurant. Life is good. And he looked at me. He says, so what happens if you get fired or quit? Who's going to hire a 16 year old restaurant manager, man. I was just like, wow, I've never thought of that. Well, he went on to tell me about his father and his three older brothers, which I knew all of them, but they were all plumbers. And he talked about how they loved what they did.

Roger Wakefield (02:15):

They got to help people. They got to build things. They just, each one of them really enjoyed it, but they also made a good living. And it wasn't very much longer after that, that either I quit or got fired. So I called one of his brothers and says, you know, look, I'm looking for a job, you know, can you help me? I literally went to the plumbing company. He was at filled out the application, got my first job for 4 75 an hour. And I was just stoked. I was happy about it. And my first plumbing job was a remodel job just east of downtown Dallas. And I loved it. I thought it was wonderful. Great. Where to start.

Josh Smith (02:50):

So you got into remodeling is the first start into it.

Roger Wakefield (02:53):

It was a, it was a Wells Fargo. So it was a big bank building that they were adding onto. And it's actually still there and it's just right across from a specialty plumbing and supply. And every time I go down or, you know, you just look over, it's like, man, that's where it all started right there.

Josh Smith (03:10):

That's great. So how are you spending your time now with the context of your business?

Roger Wakefield (03:15):

Well, I probably would really run a plumbing company half the day. I probably do social media the other half, you know, and it was really funny because speaking with scorpion about marketing, I'm not the only plumbing company that's ever been completely ripped off by marketing companies. And I decided I needed to try something different and I wanted to do social media and that's what I started learning. So now literally between YouTube and LinkedIn and all the things we do and the plumbing company is just, it's got us running, but it's helping our business grow so much that now it's just like, I could never see myself not doing.

Josh Smith (03:51):

Yeah. That sounds like an episode all in itself. I think we're definitely going to have to dive into that.

Roger Wakefield (03:57):

That's a whole nother story. Yes.

Josh Smith (03:58):

Yeah, yeah, no, I think it's important though, too, for business owners. Most of them think probably how you used to feel when it came to social media, it's this black box. You don't really know what to do, how to do it, how to move. Even when you tried it in the past, thinking you're going to have some success, you don't seem to see, see the success that you thought you were going to have. So, and your company, Texas green plumbing, where did the name come from? How'd you come up with that particular focus?

Roger Wakefield (04:25):

Uh, I'm a proud Texas native. I've lived here my entire life and I'm a green plumber. I used to be associated with green plumbers, USA. I'm also, I'm a lead AP. And before I started my own company, I was doing quality control. I'd moved up to director of operations. And when we were on these big lead projects on is that we had forms that we had to fill out and things that we had to adhere by and certain products we couldn't couldn't use them. I wanted to learn why. So I went and talked to one of the vice presidents of the company I was at at the time and said, I want to become a lead AP. And he just laughed at me. He said, no, you don't. And I said, no, I really do. This is something I deal with it all the time.

Roger Wakefield (05:07):

I want to know more about it. And he looked at me and he said, Roger, he says, I've kind of engineers that cannot pass that exam. And I said, I'll tell you what if I can't pass it, I'll pay for it to do it again. And so he said, okay, it's up to you. If you really think you want to do it, I'll give you one shot. And when the manual came in, I thought I was reading Russian. It was that, I mean, you got to know about glazing and they Tracy and just Greenlands and everything. And I started reading through all this and I thought, oh my God, this is crazy. And I actually pushed my date back one time. And luckily I did, I kept studying and started getting it all down and I passed it the first time I took it.

Josh Smith (05:49):

Do you find it, I'm kind of curious. Do you find that the green aspect resonates more or less with your consumers? I really

Roger Wakefield (05:57):

Think it depends on where we live. I mean, y'all are in California. So you understand water conservation. I'm in Texas. I understand water conservation, but it's really funny because I remember the day that I took my green plumbers, USA, the first two courses. And in order to become green plumbers, USA certified, right after I finished that second day, I had to flop to Ann Arbor or actually to the walkie because I was going up there to do around table with one of our mentorship groups. And I went up there and I actually got through the night before, so they were having a party. So I went and met them out at this restaurant where, you know, they invited me to come and I'm talking to them and they asked what I'd been doing. So I told them and they all just looked at me. They're like, yeah, those guys came in a couple of weeks ago.

Roger Wakefield (06:43):

That whole thing is a joke. I said, I mean, look, we're on top of all the water in the world. And I'm sitting here thinking, wow, y'all have got the great lakes up here. So y'all, don't even worry about water. And in Texas, we're being told, you've got to conserve water every other day. You, you can't water your yard, you can't do this. And the perspective of where you're at in the world, I think has a lot to do with it. I think as the population grows, we're all going to be looking at it different. But the way that the customer sees it from our point of view right now, water is not very expensive. So they're like, you know what? Okay, so I'll waste a few gallons. It, it costs me no very minimal, but if they realize that this is the limited amount that we have on this earth, and it just keeps recycling itself continuously, but the more people are here, the longer that's going to take, it's kind of getting where we are all conserving water one day, I think. Yeah.

Josh Smith (07:39):

That's such a good point. Where's the business at, at this point in the game, you're clearly not necessarily day-to-day operations. How has it grown and where would you say it's at, at this point

Roger Wakefield (07:51):

We're up to, we've got three trucks running right now and I've hovered between, you know, it started out when it was just me and this was five years ago. So it started out, it was just made. So I got so busy. I could not run every call. I hired another plumber. And then I kind of worked on marketing. I learned to get out and network and talk to people. And that's how I started growing my business. And the business has grown. I'd got up to six or seven plumbers at one point, not necessarily the rock plumbers all the time. And that really hurts. You've got to be very careful about the people you bring in. And especially nowadays with me being pulled more out of the company to do different things with social media and other things that I've got going on, you've got to be extremely careful about every single hire you make, because you want to make sure you're getting people in that believe in your culture and want to do things the way you want it done.

Josh Smith (08:46):

Have you found that challenging

Roger Wakefield (08:48):

Absolutely. There's tools out there and you can get the right tools to help you. You can either, you know, test people before you hire them, give them an evaluation test. There's a lot of different things that you can do. I still love my wife runs the back office. My work wife is the call center in dispatcher and all that. And I make sure that that both of them, Julie and Amber, they literally, they get to interview everybody first. And if they don't get past that litmus test, they never get to me. And I love that because I think that they are really good judges of character. I'm really good about a plumber and talking to him and understand does he know what he's talking about? But, but these two ladies are really, really good about helping making sure that we get the right people that believe in our culture, but not just believe in it, want to promote it. And I think that makes a big difference

Josh Smith (09:42):

Over the years. You know, one of the things I've found in, in working with plumbers at different stages of the game, that comes a point where, you know, as owner operator, you get out of the field and a little bit, and you've got to start focusing a bit more on kind of your operating procedures and getting things in place. Is that something that you've done and seen experience with as well? What are some of the challenges you've faced with that?

Roger Wakefield (10:03):

Two years ago, we joined an organization and I know y'all are part of it too, but we joined an organization that, that Larry teaches you how to run your company, how to do budgeting, how to hire, how to set your pricing, how to look at the daily KPIs and do things like that. And I got to tell you learning that was phenomenal. When you're like me, I came up open shop and then I joined the union. Then I decided to open my own company and I've done residential service plumbing a long time ago. But one of the union companies that I was at, we had an executive board meeting one day and I was director of operations over construction. And in this meeting, the new owner, the daughter of the owners, because they were getting an elderly and we're thinking about retirement and they told her, you can either come take it over or we can sell it.

Roger Wakefield (10:54):

Well, she was a nurse and she decided, okay, I'm going to get in. I'm going to learn the business and grow it. Well, we had gone to an instructor training program and she sat through a foreman certification course and decided that we needed to start doing residential service. And so she came in and were in a meeting one day and she's talking about how we going to focus on customer service and the best train plumbers. So I asked her, what are we going to do to try and our plumbers? And she said, what do you mean? I said, well, if we're going to tell everybody we have the best trained plumbers, what kind of training are we going to do? And she said, well, everybody here has a plumbing license, so they're already trained. So, okay. So, so what about customer service? What kind of training are you getting them to do there?

Roger Wakefield (11:37):

Because my wife had a business etiquette and protocol and I'm like, what kind of training are you going to do on customer service? She said, our guys know how to say yes, ma'am no ma'am please. Thank you. Stuff like that. We'll be fine. And I thought people are just saying whatever they want to say to try to make the phone ring, to try to make people believe they are better than anybody else. And I wanted to make sure that what I learned after I opened my own company helped me become the person that does offer better service that does better train their plumbers. And I knew that in order to do that, I needed somebody to teach me the right things to do. Yeah.

Josh Smith (12:18):

You know, kind of an interesting side note to segwaying here a little bit. I hear you used to be a cosmetologist. Tell us a bit about that.

Roger Wakefield (12:27):

Yeah. It's, it's, it's really funny during, you know, I got into the plumbing right after I got back out of high school. Cause I did end up going back. I graduated with my class. I was far enough ahead when I quit, but I also knew that you needed to have a high school diploma in order to become a plumber. So that was a big deal to me and I plumbed for awhile here in Dallas, I went down to Austin, worked for a while. And when I moved back to Dallas, my dad actually called me one day and says, Hey, we're going to help your sister buy a hair salon. I said, good. He said, but she knows nothing about running. It said, okay. They said, we want you to come manage it for her. And I'm like, I don't know anything about Harry so you can learn.

Roger Wakefield (13:07):

So he convinced me to go to cosmetology school. I did, I actually ended up helping her run hers for a while. Then I opened my own and did really good at it for a while. The one I opened was in a health club and I had people walk in all the time and say, Hey, y'all do massage too. So while I'm owning a hair salon, a literary go to school to become a massage therapist. And I started doing that too. And eventually I just started like, I really miss plumbing. Cause I did a loved one and I got back into plumbing.

Josh Smith (13:40):

So you're a massage therapist, cosmetologist pretty well-rounded guy podcast, hosts, YouTube channel. You're the Jack of all trades that so many people take a look at and they're like, how do you do it all?

Roger Wakefield (13:53):

You, you, you juggle continuously. Yeah. That's exactly what it is.

Josh Smith (13:58):

Drop and roll. That's the, if I ever name a book, it's like how to, how to manage organization in chaos because everyone's life is chaotic. Everybody's got different levels of chaos in their life. And the only way they barrel through it is to just move, you know?

Roger Wakefield (14:12):

Oh, I told you that you put it that way because some of us thrive on the chaos when things get crazy. That's to me, when a slack, I start saying clarity when it's just the same old, same old every day. I mean, I get bored and it's crazy, but I mean, you don't think about it to me. If I'm starting one business is just as easy to start to as long as they're close or similar or something like that. I know what I need to focus on. And sometimes that chaos is just enough to make you look at it sharper than you ever have and say, okay, this is where I need to focus. And now what we focus on, we went, yeah,

Josh Smith (14:51):

Yeah. I want to go back to something you said earlier, Roger, you mentioned bad experiences with marketing companies and I'm just thinking about the business owner, listening to this right now. That's resonating with them. Cause it's something that we hear a lot with that you don't have to tell names or anything, but I'm just curious what happened for those experiences to transfer

Roger Wakefield (15:10):

Literally. And I call most marketing companies, OPM marketing, other people's money because that's all they want. And it's literally there, there are marketing companies out there that they will tell you what ever you want to hear in order to get you to write a bigger check. And literally we've had marketing companies that we were doing paper click on that. It's like things that start going on. Okay. And you know, remember I'm still out in networking and there's a lot of different things going on, but thanks for going, okay. We were making a little bit more money. It's like, Hey, I want to all a double what we're doing. Pay-per-click that things are going good. And they're like, well, okay, we'll just completely double everything. We're done. You write on that check and the phones stop ringing. It's like, okay, wait, what happened? And we found out later that, you know, there were problems with the people running the ads.

Roger Wakefield (16:02):

There were disagreements inside the company and stuff like that, but nobody ever tells us that. But I mean, literally our phone stopped ringing. We hired another company here in the Dallas area and it was almost the same thing. It wasn't as much pay-per-click, but they wanted so much money just to manage the pay-per-click campaign that we were paying them more than we were paying Google or whoever for the actual ads we were paying for management. And the problem was our phones weren't ringing as much as they had been when we got there. Well then they're like, well, we need to completely rebuild your website. And of course they want a lot of money to do it, but they're like, look, this is your next step. It's like, okay, we're struggling along, but you know what we want to grow. So, so we invested that money in rebuilding the website, the phone stopped ringing again, and this is a different company.

Roger Wakefield (16:54):

And we literally walk in and it's like, okay, what happened? And they're like, well, you know, we rebuilt it, but now we need to go in and SEO. So what do you mean? And they said, well, you didn't pay us enough to build it in SEL load all up front. So now we need to go in and do that. And it's like, you know, why would y'all sell me that? Because we had already paid them to SEO. The fact that we brought over and you just, you get so many, so many bad taste in your mouth from so many different companies and people. And that last company, I even remember going into them when we were in the original negotiations and they're talking about this website and what we needed to fix and what we needed to do. And it's like, you know, okay, how many times a month can all this make the phone ring?

Roger Wakefield (17:41):

Give me a ballpark. And they're like, well, we don't even know how to figure that. And it's like, well, do you want a lot of money? I need to know what kind of an ROI, what kind of anything I'm going to get out of it. And I remember him asking me one time, well, what did the other company tell you? And I'm like, well, they said that they could hit, you know, make the phone ring 80 times a month. Oh God, we can beat that. Okay. But you can't tell me a ballpark or house or anything, but you just know you can beat somebody else's numbers. And I mean, I literally started studying SEO just to learn, look, what is it they're doing? Because I don't, I mean, I didn't, I'm one of these people, if I hire someone to do a job, I assume they know what they're doing. I assume that when they tell me I can do this, I can make your phone ring. I can make this happen us. And they can, and it's not until it doesn't happen that it really starts to get to me.

Josh Smith (18:31):

Yeah. So you ended up having to, in a way, find out how to get leads yourself, to continue to help things grow.

Roger Wakefield (18:37):

Well, we did find a better marketing company. We finally found some, somebody that they at least SEO things, right? Where the phones started ringing consistently. Look, I believe in marketing, it does not matter how great of a company you have. If nobody outside your door knows about it. They're never going to find. So I completely understand. And I love a great marketing company. They can change your life. I mean, think about somebody that walks out as a good plumber, a good HPAC tech or something like that. They walk out and that's their own company and they've got the right marketing company. Laugh is amazing. Yeah, man, when you get the bad one, you can put a company out of business quick.

Josh Smith (19:21):

As we round up here, you know, there, there's been a lot of really good information in here and I'm actually, if you're game, Roger, I want to do a part two episode here to really dive into the social stuff that you understand so well, because I think that's a big struggle point, a big opportunity point, but also a big struggle point for a lot of business owners. So if you're game we'll, we'll stick around and we'll have a second episode here. I want to end with this. My understanding is you have this big philosophy, that social leads to local growth. What does that mean to you? And tell me a bit about that.

Roger Wakefield (19:51):

Whenever I was in the social media marketing conferences that I was going to sorting out, all I'd ever hear is, look, you can't use social for local. Social is worldwide. Social is nationwide. And I understood about getting the views and getting the communications and getting the engagement and getting everything. But I had to find a way to make local work and I call it social local growth, just like you talked about. And there's a way to use social media, whether it's YouTube, whether it's LinkedIn, even Facebook, there's a way to use social media to help any local company, if they do things right. And at the end of the day, if you're not doing it right, why do it? But learning how to do that has completely changed everything in our business. And it's really been a great deal. That's

Josh Smith (20:44):

Awesome. Well, Roger, this has been awesome for an episode when I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule, to be able to share some of the valuable insights and some of your backstory with us. So thank you, Josh. Thank you. This has been fun and it's been a pleasure. Awesome. And for everybody listening definitely hit the like button and subscribe button wherever you might be listening out. So you can continue to get more of this awesome content and stay tuned for episode two, with Roger Wakefield of Texas green plumbing, where we're going to dive into one of the biggest mysteries for home service business owners. And that is how do you get a good handle on social? One of my favorite topics to talk about. So stay tuned for that, that episode is coming up, but from all of us here at stepstool, we'll talk to you soon.

Speaker 3 (21:32):


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