Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Next Chapter

When I look back at the last 55 years, I realize that the whole thing is comprised of many chapters. 

Here's some news about the next chapter.

The Next Chapter
This week I started a program to become a certified Health & Life Coach. I've always had a passion for helping others and handing out little "tidbits" of advice. I especially enjoy helping young people find their passion because I remember how hard it was when I was their age.

Since I was about age 20, I started to realize that weight management could be a problem. Along with the loss of my beautiful head of hair, I lost a lot of my metabolism over the years. 

That time was the beginning of a 35 year battle to keep my weight down. I wasn't always successful in keeping the weight off for long periods of time but I made many valiant attempts.

Before and After
Most recently, I really set my mind to the task and have lost over 110 pounds. Now that I'm in the rhythm of things I know that I really have become an expert at how to lose weight. Now, I'm setting out to become an expert at how to keep weight off.

That's why I started a program to become a certified Health and Life Coach. It's a 6-month project and I'm glad to have started the process. I've read thousands of pages on the subject of health and fitness over the years so I have a good start. I always say, "If you want to talk to an expert on heath and fitness, ask a fat person." I was that person; an expert but unable to make the application permanent. 
Health Coaching

What will I do with this? I can imagine that there are many that I can help. A little coaching and accountability is the missing key for most. It's not about additional income for me. It's more about a burning desire to share all that I've learned and continue to learn so that others can reach their goals as well. It's a struggle. I know what its like and I have some great ideas to help others in their unique journey.

Over these years, at some point, I found an interest in protein and meal replacement shakes. It was a good way for me to regulate the number of calories I took in as well as get more protein. I've tried so many of these that I can't even begin to estimate how many. All I know is there are some really nasty tasting ones out there and not very many good ones. Of course, they get better with more calories but then, what's the point? I also wanted to keep the ingredients natural and plant-based.

My son and I have been working on developing our own weight loss shake for going on 2 years now. We are calling it ShakeBox. We have the prototype and it is amazing! We're working on the packaging right now and hope to have it available for purchase this quarter.

ShakeBox is a monthly subscription service that can be cancelled anytime. One of the main features of the service is that subscribers will get a letter each month with their order from their "ShakeBox Health Coach". 

The first order comes with a diet program and tips on how to incorporate the ShakeBox shake into their diet. Every month following contains a new letter tailored to the journey.

So, that's it. That's how I'll begin to share this new learning and my upcoming certification as a Health and Life Coach.

Stay tuned for ShakeBox. It's coming soon!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Field Helpers Wanted!

Rainforest Plumbing & Air is looking for Field Helpers. No experience necessary; just a hard working attitude. This job entails helping Lead Technicians in the field with plumbing and air conditioning service and repair work. This is full-time only and is not compatible with day-classes. However, this is a great job for students needing short-term work during the summer or between semesters. There are multiple openings at $12/hr. 

Apply for any and all jobs by showing up at our office anytime between 7am and 10am M-F. We will interview you on the spot.. No appointment necessary but if you have questions, call 602-ASKRAIN or go to rainforest plumbing.com to learn more about our amazing company!

Thursday, July 21, 2016


The other day, I received a message from a good friend of ours. His friend, who happens to be a senior citizen, had a leak under her trailer home. He told me that she had a limited budget.

We sent a technician who bravely crawled under the home and ran straight into a "Bull Snake"! I don't know what that is but apparently it scared the devil right out of him! That tech left the job shaking in his boots (and likely headed to therapy). So, we sent another tech who crawled under the home (after the snake was gone) and made the repair!

The "customer" was very surprised when she found out that I had directed the technician not to charge her anything. Having to pay for something like this would have had a big impact on her budget yet it was something that had to be done. My friend was equally elated when he heard the story from her.

I received a nice note from her a few days later...

So, the point is, do something for your friends once in a while. It's the best marketing you can do!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Some of My $10,000 Secrets and Sayings

Someone recently asked me about our company, branding and philosophy. I wrote an outline of answers to the questions I was given so I thought it would be a good blog post. I will probably write more later about many of these ideas but here is the outline:
  • Ike can you give us a brief history of Rainforest, where you started, maybe some early frustrations you had, and what you have come to realize over the past years?
    • We started out with 2 trucks and 2 technicians.
    • One of my business mantras or “values”, if you will, is to always “see the forest through the trees.”
    • I never want to lose sight of the fact that this isn’t a hobby, it’s a business and businesses need to have customers, income and profits.
    • Getting into business in the first place is a leap of faith, staying in business requires a tenacity that you can and will do whatever it takes.
    • There was a time when I would get the mail and pile it on my desk where is stayed unopened.
      • Since there was no money to pay the bills, I thought, “why open them”.
      • Thankfully, I recovered from those day but the point is, "don't give up".
    • I learned early-on that there was a difference between sales and profits. You can have the sales in the world, but if there’s nothing left after paying the bills, you’ve got a problem.
    • Also, you can have good profits but without cash, you have nothing.
      • It’s true that cash is king
  • How important are your people to your organization?
    • The key to business success is to not try to do everything yourself.
      • You only have so many talents and so much time.
    • Even though I have an accounting background, I realized it wasn’t my favorite part of the business and I needed to be focused on the bigger picture, so I hired an accounting manager.
    • Even though I knew enough about plumbing to pass the contractor’s exam, I recognized that others knew more so I hired a field manager.
    • As a business owner, you have to get out of the weeds and become a problem solver and the best avenue to do that is through delegation, systems and processes.
    • You need ideas and the ability to implement them
  • How did you create your company culture?
    • Looking back, the company culture as it is today really was intentional and a reflection of who I am and what I try to be.
      • Don't let your company culture stray from who you are.
      • Prevent your culture from becoming the bad your managers experienced somewhere else.
    • A successful organization is all about the people.
      • If you have good talent and solid loyalty, you can accomplish your goals.
    • I have been taken advantage of many times and have lost money by delegating too much control but not delegating control can cost you too.
    • You must find a balance between too much and too little control.
    • I have found that you can’t turn the reins over to a general manager and be satisfied that you will be best served by all of his decisions.
    • Now, upper management consists of myself and two managers. One is over finance and one is over field operations.
    • For the most part, those two managers collaborate and agree on major decisions.
      • They even must agree on hiring and firing decisions as well as purchasing decisions.
      • They are more or less equals with their own areas of responsibility and expertise.
      • I am there to mediate and give final approval on more significant decisions.
      • I keep my key people in the habit of asking my opinion and keeping me in the loop.
    • After having been taken advantage of more than once, I had the good fortune of meeting the folks at Crimshield.
      • They do employee background checks. I turned a new expense into a great advantage.
        • We even branded it the “Crime-free Advantage”.
        • If you’re going to spend a little extra to have crime-free employees, you may as well let everyone know about it.
        • Someone will see it as an advantage to use you over someone else.
    • Some people deserve to be around you and others are not helping. Know who’s on your side and who isn’t.
    • Make a chart to determine who in your organization is conscious and unconscious, skilled and unskilled.
      • Watch out for the ones who are both unconscious and unskilled.
    • These ideas and practices have given me the freedom to lead, not just manage.
  • How important is branding? How have you made your branding memorable? Do you have a couple main messages you live and breathe by? Why do your clients pick you over your competition?
    • Branding is everything.
    • If people don’t know who you are, they won’t think of you when they have a need for your product or service.
    • I love the idea of “gorilla marketing”.
      • After all, the monkey in our logo isn’t there just to look pretty.
    • You have to think outside the box and be willing to make bold moves.
    • Try things others can’t afford or are afraid to try.
    • Do something unexpected then own it. Become known for it.
    • Once you hit on a good idea, never assume people are tired of it.
      • Stay with it.
      • Never get bored of your own message.
    • There are plenty of people out there who’ve never heard of you or who don’t know you well enough to remember you.
    • Be remembered by creating multiple “hits” in people’s minds.
      • “Hit” them while they’re driving.
      • “Hit” them while they listen to the radio, etc.
    • We have a very high percentage of repeat business.
      • That says a lot!
      • Your customers will sell for you when they have an experience that is timely, accurate and fair.
    • Someone gave me some faulty advice once.
      • They said to charge your friends the same as everyone else because they are causing you opportunity cost.
      • This is wrong in my opinion.
      • I have come to realize that a strong discount to a friend will return to you many times, in many ways.
      • Your friends are your best sales people; treat them right.
  • Do you have any advice for a new entrepreneur or someone who wants to take their company to the next level?
    • Some advice you hesitate to give out for free but here are some of my $10,000 secrets and sayings:
    • “Make enough money that you can afford to pay for your mistakes because there will be many and they are expensive.”
    • Listen to recordings by people like Tony Robbins who can motivate you to lead a bold life.
    • Don’t go through life asleep.
      • Be both skilled and conscious so you can demand both from your employees.
    • In addition to my internal advisors, I have a strong group of external advisors.
      • These are successful friends and business associates that I trust.
      • Have people in your space that will be there if you need them and you do likewise for them.
    • Be aware that everyone has self-interests and they have a tendency to trump your own.
      • Be wise enough to do as one great man said, “Trust but verify.”
    • Get online. Have a personal web presence and a deep network consisting of sites, blogs and social media. 
      • Don’t forget to brand yourself.
    • Support others online and they will support you.
    • What's here today can be gone tomorrow so act like you did when you had nothing.
    • Know what SEO is then hit it as hard as you can.
    • People hate surprises and they love it when you are up-front with them.
      • This one practice can solve most of your problems.
    • Business is like a firewalk, sometime you get burned.
      • Read the true story here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Received a Raving Review Today!

Let me say what an absolute pleasure it was meeting with you today. I meet a lot of people, you are truly dynamic and it’s no surprise you have some amazing people on your team. Your facility and the care you and your team take in your business is inspiring! I look forward to the opportunity to work with you guys in the future.  
Patrick McNamara
President of Construction, Gryphon Roofing & Remodeling

Monday, January 26, 2015

AquaOne Technologies Toilet Guardian is a scam! Use FloodStop instead.

I recently purchased the AquaOne Technologies Toilet Guardian item #TG 1000 A Overflow and Water Conservation device.

AquaOne Technologies, LLC

From the video, this seems like a nifty device to help prevent toilets from overflowing and flooding. I've had too many of these experiences myself not to mention having seen others live with the devastating results of a toilet flood.

Well, the drama with this company began with how long it took to get the order. In these days of 2-day shipping, it's a bit long to wait 2 weeks! When the thing finally came, I opened the box which contained minimal instructions. It didn't take very long to discover that the package was missing 3 to 4 parts which are critical to it's operation.

So, still being motivated to make it work, I put in a call to the company. The packing list didn't have  phone number so I found it online. No one answered so I left a message. Later that day, I called and left another message. After a couple of days, I called and left another message and sent an email. At this point it felt obvious that this company doesn't care to return calls so I filed a claim via my PayPal account. I'm mailing the item back today and PayPal promises to refund my money.

Needless to say, I would not recommend that anyone deal with this company or take a chance on this device. Since most businesses, want to satisfy their customers, I can only assume this business is a scam!

So, my search continues to find a device that will prevent an overflowing toilet from flooding.

UPDATE: What I recommend now..

I currently recommend the FloodStop device. I have them on every fixture in my own home including sinks, toilets, water heaters, water softner, sump pit and washing machine. Floods in your home are inevitable. Spending a little money on prevention will save a lot down the road.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Why a Good Manager Must be Accessible to Customers and Employees

In best-selling books on leadership and management, you'll find a lot of platitudes about taking charge of the situation and being innovative. Those are important qualities for any manager, of course, but the reality is that being successful often comes down to a lot of small details and getting issues taken care of. In other words, simply being consistent and reliable is every bit as important as having a big, inspired vision.
One part of your work and career where that's particularly true has to do with your accessibility. That is, if customers and employees feel like you are available to discuss issues as they come up, they'll feel like you're doing a great job, and that they are being included. If it seems like you aren’t accessible, on the other hand, the impression might be that you don't care, or that you aren't focused on the job at hand.

So, how do you make sure that customers and employees know you’re accessible? Here are a few great tips to get you started:

Have multiple ways that people can get in touch. Carrying a cell phone is a good start, but you should have other ways for customers and employees to reach you. That can be especially important for some customers who might only be able to reach you after hours, or would prefer to put their thoughts into an email. The more ways people have to get in touch with you, the more accessible you seem.

Post office hours with signs or reminders. Sometimes, nothing beats a face-to-face conversation. That's why virtually every manager should have office hours that they stick to, and that are posted for customers and employees to see. The more you have people coming to you in person, the less back-and-forth communication is needed to resolve issues. Plus, an in-person visit makes customers and employees feel like they're getting more of your attention.

Remember that customers keep a business in business. Some managers are intentionally inaccessible, because they don't like the fact that customers might come to them with small, seemingly inconsequential problems. But, as the old axiom goes, if you don't take care of your customers, someone else will. From a financial standpoint, keeping existing customers is more profitable and less costly than finding new ones is. Besides, most issues can be resolved quickly and simply, so make customer satisfaction a priority.

But also keep in mind that employees matter, too. The same goes for your employees. When you lose someone valuable on your team, it typically costs you 5 to 10 times their pay to replace them. Some of the busiest managers pay close attention to customers, but neglect their own employees, or don't take their concerns seriously. But, remember that your employees are the face of your company when you aren't around. If they are dissatisfied, it won't be long before your customers are, too.

Remember that being accessible means more than simply being reachable. Of course, being reachable by telephone, or keeping regular office hours, is important to your accessibility as a manager. Remember, though, that being present is just as much of a requirement as simply being in the room or on the phone. In other words, when a customer or employee comes to see you about something, they should be able to get your full, undivided attention. Learn to deal with one person, and issue, at a time and you'll be much more successful as a leader and manager.

Are you as accessible as you could be to your customers and employees? Most of us could stand to make more of an effort, especially when we are busy and distracted with lots of projects at once. But, one of the keys to keeping customers happy – and keeping your best employees working for you – is being easy to find and talk to, so make that one of your top priorities.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Getting Back Up in a Drag-You-Down Economy

If you're tired of hearing about the "soft" economy that's been hanging over us for the past few years, or worried about the future of your company in uncertain times, you certainly aren't alone – business owners and managers around the country are enduring a lot of sleepless nights right along with you. 

But, while we can't forecast exactly what the economy is going to bring next month, much less next year, what we can do is give you some tried-and-true tips for keeping your business going strong regardless of what's going on around you. Here are five industrial-strength tips for getting back up in a drag-you-down economy:

1. Look past the front-page news. Don't assume that business has to be bad just because they said so on the nightly news. While the economy as a whole might not exactly be on fire, that doesn't mean that certain industries, areas, and even businesses aren't doing better than ever.

Rather than simply assuming things are in the tank, take a careful inventory of your recent sales, along with conversations you've had with important buyers. You might just find that the parts of the economy that actually affect you and your company aren't nearly as bad as you might think.

2. Get back to basics. Assuming you are facing tough economic conditions, one of the smartest things you can do is to get back to proven strategies and offers. Although a lot of business owners and managers panic when things get tough and try a "kitchen sink" approach to sales and marketing, it's sometimes better to do the opposite.

That doesn't mean you should stop looking for new business, of course, but that you should emphasize the campaigns, products, and pricing structures that have worked for you in the past.

3. Provide your customers with something essential or irresistible. There are all kinds of things that people will keep buying in any economy, simply because they either need them, or represent too good of a value to pass up. What can you give buyers that they can't ignore, or couldn't buy somewhere else?

When you have the answer to that question, you know what you can offer to the public reliably during a tough economy and have them keep coming back for more.

4. Make smarter investments. Granted, you should be careful about the money you spend for your business in any economic climate. But, when things are slow and future revenue is uncertain, be very wary of luxury items, unnecessary investments, and business purchases with long financing terms.

You can and should certainly keep pouring a percentage of your profits back into your business, but try to keep a little extra cash reserve, and financial flexibility, in case you need to ride out some short-term bumps.

5. Don't give up. Although this is the last and simplest tip, it's also arguably the most important. The economy may or may not be affecting your business directly, but either way, you can come through without too much trouble if you're willing to outwork your competitors. In fact, a tough economy can actually be a great thing for some businesses, since they take the opportunity to get aggressive and attract customers while their competitors are sitting back and waiting for the sky to fall.

When it comes down to it, most businesses suffer from a lack of confidence and creativity more than they do the actual effects of an economic downturn. In other words, they "know" that the economy is bad, and so they stop trying and take it for granted that revenue and profits are going to be down.

Don't make the same mistake. Things might be a little tougher lately, but that doesn't mean your business has to take a hit.

As published in Apartment News.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

10 Ways to Keep “Customers” Happy

In any business, customer service is the key to success. That's certainly true in the world of property management, where happy “customers” (residents/customers) stay longer, take better care of their units, and even refer friends and colleagues your way. In other words, a little bit of resident/customer happiness can translate into less turnover (with fewer empty units), lower maintenance costs, and word-of-mouth marketing. Plus, when everyone's happy, the atmosphere around your community improves, too. For vendors in the property management service industry, the same rules apply. A satisfied “customer” is a happy customer.
How do you keep residents/customers happy and satisfied?

1. Pay attention to what actually matters to residents/customers. As strange as it might sound, many don't actually realize what their residents/customers really want. Get in the habit of keeping your ear to the ground and you'll develop a sense for which issues and concerns are most important.

2. Get in the habit of answering questions and returning messages promptly. For many residents/customers, feeling ignored is even worse than getting a rude or unsatisfactory answer to their questions. Being quick and attentive with your responses is an easy way to build trust and keep residents/customers satisfied.

3. Get good at keeping track of details. Often, it isn't that anyone intentionally ignores a resident/customer, but that different questions or concerns "fall through the cracks," especially in regard to small maintenance concerns or minor questions. Use a good filing or note-taking system that ensures you'll remember details and follow up on them as needed.

4. Be up-front with what you can do and what you can't do. If something really is out of your control, don't be afraid to let residents/customers know. They might not like the answer, but they'll usually appreciate your honesty if you can explain why you're unable to resolve the situation. Being up-front with everything works with everyone. This way, there are no surprises!

5. Allow customers to make suggestions anonymously. Sometimes, there are certain questions or concerns that people want to raise privately, or without giving their name at all. By having a suggestion box or other anonymous reporting tool, residents/customers can tell you about sensitive issues in a confidential way.

6. Be a better listener. No one likes the feeling of not being heard or paid attention to, and yet most of us don't practice active listening as often as we should. Become a better listener and you'll automatically become a better owner/manager/service business (and possibly a better, more likable person at the same time).

7. Learn to see both sides of a problem. There are going to be times when you feel at odds with a resident/customer, or will have to sit through an argument about policies, repairs, etc. Instead of following nature’s first instinct and becoming defensive, give the other person a chance to speak and then consider their position. Even if you don't agree with them, you might be able to find a good middle ground.

8. Give customers the benefit of the doubt. As the saying goes, the customer might not always be right, but they are still the customer. Make small concessions when necessary; it's usually better to lose the battle if it saves a good business relationship.

9. Get in the habit of taking responsibility. One of the biggest symptoms of poor customer service is that no one feels technically responsible for anything; for some, fixing a problem is always someone else's fault. Get in the habit of becoming accountable, and be the kind of person who can either give solutions or find them. A good tenant/customer service team is a collection of people who take responsibility!

10. Make customer appreciation a real, and regular, part of your business. Sometimes, people spend a lot more time trying to attract new customers than working to keep current ones. A little bit of genuine customer appreciation goes a long way, so make it a regular part of your business.

In a lot of ways, providing great customer service and keeping customers happy comes down to simply treating residents/customers the way you would want to be treated. That's a relatively easy guideline to follow, but it's also one that can make an enormous difference!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

What is Branding... and Why is it Important?

If you pay attention to business news, you’ll undoubtedly hear about brands and branding on a regular basis – especially in regards to "building a brand," "the value of a brand," or even "damage to a brand." Usually, though, these kinds of ideas are being applied to a major corporation, so it might seem fair to assume that branding is something that only the biggest organizations have to worry about.

The reality, however, is that every business and individual should be aware of what branding is, and how it works, because it can be such a powerful concept.

Although there are a lot of different ways that branding is defined, it really comes down to this: a brand is just the sum of the way people feel about you and the impressions you make. It includes your visual identity, with things like logos, color schemes, and marketing messages. But at same time, it also encompasses your prices, the other businesses you work with, and even your reputation for customer care and service.

When you put all of these together, you have an idea of how people think about you, or at least how you're trying to get them to think about you. That might be important to huge companies with massive advertising budgets, but it can be even more important to small businesses, or even individuals, who need to make an impression on the people around them in their local market or community.

To get a bit deeper into the reasons that branding matters, consider a few of the great things that happen when you have strong branding efforts in place:

Great brands tell a long story in a fraction of a second. Stop and think about your favorite businesses or products, and then think about the logos or advertising jingles you associate with them. If you love something like Starbucks, Cadbury's Chocolate, or Coca-Cola (as many people do), then you already understand how just seeing the right graphic can make you hungry or thirsty, and create an instant unconscious impression in your mind. That's the power of a strong brand.

People like to work with brands they know and trust. Lots of research has gone into the reasons why customers prefer established brands, but the results basically come down to trust. When the company has built a brand that becomes associated with a certain type of product or service, it's easier for you to choose them because you know what to expect when you make that choice. In other words, people like to feel comfortable and unthreatened, and working with established brands allows them to do that.

Strong branding helps you gain recommendations. When someone is looking for a product or service recommendation, they often turn to a friend, colleague, or family member first. Branding heavily influences those recommendations, since a person is far more likely to recall a strong brand off the top of their head instead of a weaker one. That applies to big companies and products, of course, but also to the people in their lives – personal branding is incredibly important for referrals and other suggestions.

Branding helps your marketing, but it also does a lot more. Although a lot of the discussion about branding focuses on marketing, and finding new customers, the reality is that a great brand helps you in a lot of different ways. For instance, your branding efforts could help you secure a new loan, create relationships with vendors, generate interest from colleagues, or even create employment and partnership opportunities for your team. Each of these is possible because good branding builds trust and familiarity, which paves the way for stronger business relationships.

Whether you're thinking about the apartment business, or even just your own personal career, paying attention to your brand is a good idea. You might not have a huge, multi-million-dollar corporate budget to work with, but your credibility, your reputation, and the impressions you make on your customers and colleagues are every bit as important to your success as they would be to the biggest company.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Service Plumber's Code

The Service Plumber's Code
By Ike Tippetts

  • The best smell in the world comes from a freshly soldered pipe.
  • The worst smell comes from the back of your truck.
  • There are only two things that are more fun than a good argument about what causes slab leaks, and they cannot be mentioned. 
  • You go to pawn shops looking for one of your old drills. 
  • When you see one of your old drills at a pawn shop, you burst into tears, then you get angry, then you buy it.
  • Your customers like you so much they shake your hand even after you've snaked their drains. 
  • When you find what was stopping the customer's drains, you are discrete.
  • You measure your past life based on how many re-pipes you've done. 
  • You measure your current life based on how many relatives you've helped for free. 
  • Your daughter was born the weekend you were on-call. 
  • You encourage your sons to be politicians because it's easy work.
  • You never criticize another plumber even though he works for a different company but it's ok to make fun of his cheap tools. 
  • If he dug a slab leak with a screw driver, tell everyone. 
  • When someone criticizes you, you wonder whether he's ever dug an 8 foot hole by himself in the middle of the night. 
  • There are a pair of muddy boots on the side of the house that will never be revived.
  • Sewage on the ground isn't hazardous to you, it's your bread-and-butter. 
  • You wonder who will get your tools after you're gone and whether they'll take care of them the way you did.
  • You think the Dispatcher is taking care of you but you can't prove that she isn't messing with you.
  • You bite your tongue when the Dispatcher sends you clear across town. 
  • She bites you back when you grumble. 
  • You barbeque steak in the winter and hot dogs in the summer. 
  • You couldn't wash your hands at lunch time but it didn't matter because your burrito was wrapped. 
  • Your first concern when you go on a picnic is how fast you can get back to your truck if you get a service call and whether the kids can get home before dark. 
  • A good soldering torch is a work of art. 
  • A borrowed torch is always out of gas.
  • You wonder why the office tells you what to do when you know more than they do.  
  • You've had at least one pair of channel locks lifted by another plumber or left on the bumper! 
  • You've "found" at least one pair of channel locks and called it Karma.
  • Never ask for directions -- no matter what. 
  • If you get lost, it's the Dispatcher's fault for not giving you directions.

This is the code for now.