As organizations have scrambled to adapt to health guidelines for commercial workspaces, Steven Tomlinson and Dave Hollister of Level Seven Facilities Services have served on the front lines of the pandemic. In episode 26 of the Rocket IT Business Podcast, audiences hear how Dave and Steven have built their business to embrace challenges and opportunities as they appear.
In this episode, you’ll hear more about:
- The vision behind Level Seven Facilities Services
- The difference between working in an organization and building it
- What to expect when transitioning to a leadership position
- How to effectively divide responsibilities
- A new type of management framework
- Steps to develop an office culture of safety and responsibility
- Incorporating community involvement as a key component of success
Level Seven Facilities Services | www.l7fs.com
Matt Hyatt: (00:00)
Hello everyone, and welcome to episode 26 of the Rocket IT Business Podcast. I’m your host, Matt Hyatt, and today we have the pleasure of speaking with Steven Tomlinson and Dave Hollister, co-owners of Level Seven Facility Services. These guys have been on the front lines of the pandemic as organizations everywhere have scrambled to adapt to rapidly changing guidelines and safety measures for commercial and industrial workspaces. Today, we’ll learn how Dave and Steven have built their business to embrace challenges and opportunities as they appear. So let’s get started.
Matt Hyatt: (00:38)
All right, guys. Well, let’s just get started. So tell me a little bit about your background. How did you get started? How did you meet? Steven, why don’t you start us off?
Steven Tomlinson: (00:45)
Okay. Well, we met originally in a fantasy football league. Yeah, probably I don’t know, 15 years ago.
Dave Hollister: (00:54)
At least yeah.
And then we were just kind of friends from a distance. We didn’t see each other that often for a long time. And I guess we’d see each other at the fantasy football league draft every year and I’d be like, Hey Dave, how’s it going? And that would be about it. We just really didn’t know each other that well. Dave was in the landscaping industry for a number of years and I can let him dive into that.
Matt Hyatt: (01:19)
Wow. Dave likes hard work. I can already tell
Dave Hollister: (01:23)
I do. I don’t know why I like it honestly. I like relying on labor.
Matt Hyatt: (01:27)
Okay we’re going to get into that.
Steven Tomlinson: (01:29)
And so I’d gotten into the cleaning business, gosh, probably 12, 13 years ago in Savannah. I had a business down there and moved up here to get married in 2012 and sold the Savannah operation and started over with the same business model from scratch. That was when Level Seven was started. Dave reached out to me in 2015, 16, early 2016 and he was at a career crossroads and was interested in looking around and I would probably let him tell it from his side of the story, but I’d always been impressed with him and was anxious to sit down.
Matt Hyatt: (02:17)
He was really good at fantasy football?
Steven Tomlinson: (02:19)
He is really good at fantasy football. That’s a whole different story, but yeah, no, he’s embarrassingly good. He’s actually been recently kicked out of my league because he’s too good. There’s a great story there, but yeah, it’s a mob rule. They’re like this guy can’t play. So when he expressed interest in talking to us about finding a role with us, I was like, yeah, no, Dave’s a great guy. Let’s sit down and hear what he’s got to say. So we met for lunch at Baldino’s on Buford Highway, and then by the end of that conversation, I was like, this guy gets it. He totally sees the same sort of business philosophy that we have, and we need to find a role for him somehow.
Matt Hyatt: (03:01)
Okay. All right. Well, was that role clear from the outset? Okay, Dave, you’re in a groove. This is what hat you’re gonna wear, and this is what I’m going to do, or was it less clear than that?
Dave Hollister: (03:14)
Well, so, when I was looking, I was in the landscape industry for about 25 years. And I mean, that goes back to me being 16 years old, pushing a lawnmower. I was working with my buddy from high school and when I was looking at opportunities, I was looking at for whatever reason, wanting to get into sales, which I now realize is a big mistake. I’m not a sales guy, but, I went with the company. We bought a very small company and were able to build it up to about $2 million. So at the time where I was meeting with Steven, Level Seven was a small company. And I was like, you know what, I’ve already been through it. I’ve been through a lot of, even though I wasn’t an owner of the company, my friend/boss treated me like I was. I was involved in all of the P and L’s, all the consultants, and I really, really learned a lot. I felt like I had a lot to offer, and just sitting down with Steven. I had some opportunities to try some sales jobs and thankfully I didn’t take them. Steven’s like, let’s get you in here. Let’s give it a shot. You know? And one of the things that was a requirement from my side is I wanna at some point be able to buy into the business. So he’s like, well, let’s give it a trial period. Let’s see how it works. And within three months we were working out a deal for me to buy into the company.
Matt Hyatt: (04:51)
Really. Wow. I mean, that’s pretty darn short amount of time.
Dave Hollister: (04:57)
So we clicked. Steven and I saw eye to eye. I mean, he’s the yin to my yang for real. You know, I’m always very conservative about jumping in and Steven’s like, just jump in, we’ll figure it out. And we worked very well together in that matter.
Matt Hyatt: (05:17)
Well, it’s good both ways, right? I think you often hear opposites attract and all kinds of relationships and marriage and business and all kinds of stuff, but to have somebody that’s kind of that visionary forward thinker, go for it, conquer the mountain kind of person with the person that says, well, why don’t we bring some safety equipment, let’s have a plan. Let’s just make sure we can get back down. That’s a great, great pair. So, wow. That’s pretty awesome. Man it takes some guts. I know, you know, it takes some guts if you’ve spent some time building a business to bring someone else in. I guess that helped a lot that you guys had a friendship that was existing. You knew each other, but to bring somebody in after three short months and say, okay, come on into the fold, we’re going to be co-owners.
Steven Tomlinson: (06:04)
Yeah, that’s true. I mean, I think that I needed somebody like Dave onboard and I think, we had some pieces that were well-placed and we had something to build on. We had built a good foundation, but I think I was looking for somebody with the same kind of business mindset and systems mentality. Let’s build something scalable that really works and with all the right values. I think that that’s what it boils down to for us is our culture and our values. We try to build everything that we do around those two things.
Matt Hyatt: (06:43)
Steven Tomlinson: (06:44)
And so it was, as soon as Dave came on board, certainly we complimented each other well, and I realized this guy’s got strengths where I’ve got weaknesses and he would say vice versa. But more importantly, it was like, we both kind of saw the grand vision. So yeah, it didn’t feel like a leap of faith to me. I was like, this is the guy. And it’s been a terrific partnership.
Matt Hyatt: (07:11)
So I think I can kind of guess just based on what you said, Dave, about how one falls into the landscaping business and the outdoor services kind of business. You start at 16 years old and that’s where you are and somebody sees something in you and they move up through the ranks. I get that. Less clear to me how, well I understand you’ve got an English degree. How do you land in the cleaning business? What was the draw and the attraction for you guys to get into that specific business?
Steven Tomlinson: (07:45)
Well, the first thing you do is you get an English degree.
Matt Hyatt: (07:48)
Super important. I know that’s one-oh-one right there. You’ve got to get that done.
Steven Tomlinson: (07:53)
Well, I always thought that I wanted to be an entrepreneur and I knew that. And so I think I’ve always kind of kept in the back of my mind what are business models that are healthy and, well, let me back up a little bit. I came from home building like flipping houses and doing some remodeling work, and so the recession hit me pretty hard. And I had a one-year-old at the time, and luckily I was able to kind of keep my head above water, but I didn’t see a stable future there. So I was kind of looking around for something else. And I had a friend who was in this line of work and did contract commercial cleaning services and it looked like a really good business model, and it looked like a recession proof business model.
Matt Hyatt: (08:47)
Steven Tomlinson: (08:48)
Because even in the worst of times, you still have to have somebody do a minimum amount of maintenance. Trash has to be taken out one way or the other. So that was probably the biggest attraction and that it is a scalable business if you do it right. I started talking to my friend who was in the business and we kicked around some possibilities of going into business together. We never did put that together, but we’re still friends. We’re friendly competition here. He’s based in Atlanta too. And at the time I was in Savannah, but he’s been a big help to me back in the day.
Matt Hyatt: (09:34)
It’s always great to have mentors. Right?
Steven Tomlinson: (09:37)
Yeah that’s right.
Matt Hyatt: (09:39)
So do you find, Dave, that there are similarities between the two different industries?
Dave Hollister: (09:44)
Oh, absolutely. I mean, for me it was an easy transition. I have an operational mind, I think in terms of man hours, and whether that’s man hours pushing a lawn mower or it’s man hours pushing a vacuum
Matt Hyatt: (09:57)
It’s your inventory really.
Dave Hollister: (09:58)
Yeah and in fact, it’s a lot cheaper. I was like, I can’t believe our cleaners are allowed to charge us this much. He’s in my house for five hours and is charging me 200 bucks. Goodness gracious and landscaping, I’m getting a hundred bucks for that. I can get 50, but in general it’s really a service. We’re providing a service and how do you best provide that the most efficient way? And I knew that inside and out in the landscaping, and I knew that it would transition pretty easily in the cleaning industry. So it was an easy, nice transition. I had to learn about stain extraction out of carpets but you learn that quickly.
Matt Hyatt: (10:45)
You had to learn the technical parts of the roles. You know, well, you’re right. I think once you develop a skillset for leading people and provide it, you understand the mindset of providing a service, that is translatable. Heck you guys could run an IT company. That’s pretty awesome. Good. Well, you know, that’s really cool. I love your story and kind of how you got started. It sounds like 2016, we’re in 2021. So it’s been about five years. What is your shared vision for the company? Where are you going?
Steven Tomlinson: (11:16)
Matt Hyatt: (11:17)
Dave looks over at Steven.
Steven Tomlinson: (11:22)
Well, we want to keep growing for sure. And we are putting the pieces in place to keep growing and it comes in spurts, of course. And sometimes it comes with a great deal of pain.
Matt Hyatt: (11:37)
Steven Tomlinson: (11:39)
Feels like we’re going through some serious growing pains right now. You know, we’re trying to put together and tighten up all of our SOPs, and sort of keeping the culture of what we do at the center of everything and our values. And we meet regularly, the senior management, and we talk about our vision and the direction that we’re headed. We always try to make sure that what we’re doing, aligns with our core values. But in answer to your question there is a great need for what we do and if you can show up and do it really well and be consistent, then there’s a lot of market share to be gained. So ideally I think what we’d like to do is get our systems down to the point where things are such a science that you can take what we do and put it in another city, and it works well there too. We’re not quite there, but we do work on those SOPs all the time.
Matt Hyatt: (12:49)
Nice. Well, there’s a lot to unpack there. So just out of curiosity, SOP Standard Operating Procedures, how do you guys do that? Is it literally like, you know, I worked in retail way back when, and we literally had an SOP book and there was a manual and you pull it out and if you need to know how to open the store, close the store, close out the cash register, there’s a written document there. Is it like that? Or is it…
Steven Tomlinson: (13:15)
Dave Hollister: (13:16)
A lot of times it’s a whiteboard. You stand up, you have two or three people in here to actually do the process and say, okay, this is the first thing we do. The second thing we do. And then somebody else says, whoa, “Hey, don’t be forgetting that.” And then we’ll go ahead and we’ll revise them because they’ll change because we’re evolving as we get bigger. The way we start up an account now, versus the way we did it five years ago, it’s completely changed. And so it’s a matter of keeping that updated and repeatable. I mean, obviously that’s the key. As long as you can get a Standard Operating Procedure that I can hand to somebody in Charleston, South Carolina, say, “This is how we do it. You have to look at the book of how we do everything. Here it is.” They can do it. That’s our goal.
Matt Hyatt: (14:07)
Love it. Now, Steven, you and I met because you’re out there in the community and representing your company and doing that terrifically, by the way. Dave, you said sales is not my favorite thing, so can I assume that you’re the operations sort of behind the scenes guy? Is the SOP kind of in your wheelhouse or is it shared? How do you do that?
Dave Hollister: (14:29)
So, we kind of share the SOP, but the way we break it out, as Steven said, from the get-go, I’m going to get the business and you figure out how to make it happen.
Matt Hyatt: (14:40)
Nice. So a promise maker, promise keeper. Gotcha.
Dave Hollister: (14:44)
And believe it or not, we work well. We don’t fight too much. I mean, I’ve also got Scott. He’s our Director of Operations below me and he is a former lawyer.
Matt Hyatt: (14:56)
Dave Hollister: (14:57)
So you talk about writing good SOPs. He’s a stud.
Matt Hyatt: (15:00)
I got to see your pre-requisites list. English degree, former lawyer. Okay.
Dave Hollister: (15:05)
Matt Hyatt: (15:05)
That works pretty well.
Dave Hollister: (15:10)
So, we do share the SOP, but he deals much more on the sales and marketing side, and I’m more on the operational side.
Matt Hyatt: (15:24)
I see. You know, something you mentioned about setbacks. I’ve been doing what I do for a very long time. We’re in our 27th year at this point. Just this week I had a conversation with my leadership team that we’ve had before, but just have to remind them because we set our goals high. And I know from my own experience that we don’t always hit our goals, but I also know that it’s important to set those goals high because when you’re reaching for it, even if you fall a little bit short, you’re probably still doing pretty darn good. But the discussion we were having was, you know, every entrepreneur, every leader, when we’re setting those goals, ideally you start down in the bottom left and we want to go to the top. Right? And the ideal way to get there is just straight up. A straight line, the shortest distance between two points. But then when you look back and say, well, how did it go? It’s up, down, up, down, up, down. It’s one step backward, two steps forward. Sometimes it’s the reverse. Sometimes it’s two steps back and one step forward. And when you’re in that, those dips and valleys, it always feels terrible. But when we look over a long period of time and say, okay, where are we now? And where were we? Usually, it’s incredible.
Steven Tomlinson: (16:41)
Matt Hyatt: (16:41)
The progress that’s made despite those ups and downs. And you guys have had some real, I mean, we all have, but I would think particularly in your business there’s…Just so our listeners know your business is cleaning facilities, such as commercial office buildings, industrial spaces, warehouses, things like that. I have that right?
Steven Tomlinson: (17:04)
Matt Hyatt: (17:04)
And so we’re in the middle. we think we’re in the middle of a pandemic. We don’t know if we’re in the beginning of a pandemic. Hopefully we’re towards the end of the pandemic, right? The things have changed a lot in the world and we’re working from home or no we’re in the office, but then you got to clean all the surfaces and then don’t worry about all that stuff. I’m sure that’s been a rough and tumble kind of ride and experience for you guys. So how do you deal with all that? How do you cope with all that craziness in the world when you’re trying to build this highly stable, highly predictable business with, underscore the Standard Operating Procedures when the world isn’t standard, how did the Standard Operating Procedures work?
Steven Tomlinson: (17:44)
That’s a great question. You know, certainly last year was a wild ride. And it wasn’t all that in the end, but it put us to the test. Like everybody, I think most businesses and, you know, we count our lucky stars because you look at restaurants and some other businesses that just couldn’t survive.
Matt Hyatt: (18:06)
Steven Tomlinson: (18:07)
And so we were lucky in that regard. I think a lot of people have asked us, “Well, you guys are in the cleaning business. You must be one of the businesses just like killing it right now.” And well, actually, when the pandemic first hit and everything shut down, we lost 75% plus of our recurring revenues like that. And so, you know, we’re sitting around like deer in headlights. What do we have to do to survive? Are we going to end up having to lay people off? How do we get through this and who knows where it goes, but I got to credit my partner, Dave. We all did come together as a team, but they really spearheaded the effort to get ahead of all the disinfectant misting and disinfecting services that we could lean into because obviously our phones were ringing for that immediately.
Matt Hyatt: (18:58)
Steven Tomlinson: (19:00)
And then we shifted our marketing perspective and said, look, people are looking for disinfecting cleaning right now. They’re not looking for recurrent janitorial. They really are not concerned about pressure washing or glass cleaning. People need to feel safe when they go to their buildings. And so, we changed our website. We changed up our marketing message. Now, granted, we know that the long-term relationship is still our bread and butter, that commercial janitorial. So we were able in just a couple of months after losing all that recurring revenue to replace it pretty quickly with disinfecting services. But it was a lot of one-offs, you know, a lot of kind of onesy twosy stuff, but we had all these new relationships that we wouldn’t have had before.
Matt Hyatt: (19:47)
Steven Tomlinson: (19:48)
So, our goal, at least on the sales side in particular, was let’s capitalize on this list. We don’t want to get rich off the pandemic. We want to provide a reasonably priced service and an effective service and be a resource. But, you know, we want the relationship for the long-term. And so we made sure that everybody that reached out to us knew that we’re here for you. We understand what you need right away. We would love to build this relationship and so we have. We’ve picked up a lot of recurrent business through that.
Matt Hyatt: (20:25)
That’s fantastic. Yeah.
Dave Hollister: (20:26)
Yeah, and it was crazy. Some of our competition, we would come in 75%, 80% lower than what some of our competition was charging. And if we didn’t have any sort of reputation that they didn’t know who we were, they were like, these guys don’t know what they’re doing.
Matt Hyatt: (20:44)
Like you’re almost too low.
Dave Hollister: (20:45)
How could you be that low? And you didn’t have to really know what you’re talking about and then show them actually a scientific proof and say, look, these guys, I mean, without saying it, be like these guys are ripping you off, you know, and our end goal is like Steven was saying is to be able to develop that long-term relationship, turn it into the janitorial contract or whatever it is that they’re looking for.
Matt Hyatt: (21:09)
Yeah. I think that’s great. And I think it’s super smart, your approach. So much patience is required as entrepreneurs and business leaders, right? And well, I’ll give you an experience. So I remember the Great Recession. I bet you, not everyone on your team remembers the Great Recession. Not everyone on my team remembers the Great Recession, but I do. And my recollection of that is, yeah, it was really bad in a lot of ways, right? There were a lot of our customers that were suffering. Some of them closed their doors, never to return, but kind of like what you were saying, there were opportunities to leverage up and level up and to other organizations that previously wouldn’t even take our phone call. Well, suddenly, you know what, we’ve got to figure out a way to lower IT costs. And we’ve got to figure a way to get through and survive this. And so now they’re open to outsourcing certain functions that they weren’t previously willing to do. And so overall it worked out really well. And we still have some of those clients that we built relationships with when things were tough. And they’ll remember that. So I applaud you for having the vision to do that.
Dave Hollister: (22:17)
Matt Hyatt: (22:18)
You know, something you mentioned that I think is really important and we’ve talked about on this show before with some of our other guests, but I think every entrepreneur needs to know this. You mentioned staying true to your values. So tell me about that. What’s the work of understanding what your values are and do you also maintain a purpose and a mission? Is that part of the deal? Does it get talked about within your team? I’m just curious how that part of the business works. Did it exist? Did you create it and then Dave came along or did you guys do that later?
Steven Tomlinson: (22:56)
It’s a work in progress, always, but that’s one of our values actually is to remain dynamic and often striving for improvement.
Dave Hollister: (23:03)
But there were core values. We’ve worked on them continuously, but when I got there, there were, and there was a little bit of humor to it, which, you know, leads to one of our core values which is to enjoy what you do every day. And that’s really one of the most important in my eyes. We’re in the cleaning industry and, you know, it’s not a sexy job. So how do you attract new talent? How do you get people to come in? And obviously in the labor crunch now that we’re dealing with, it’s even more pronounced, and providing the culture that we take care of our people and that we really truly care about their wellbeing and we want them to enjoy what they do. It plays a big part in retention and hiring, and being successful just in general. So, I mean, that’s just one value in particular that we just really, really, really hang on to.
Matt Hyatt: (24:00)
That’s fantastic. Now, is that something that kind of stays in the C-Suite or do your team members know about your values and what they are?
Steven Tomlinson: (24:09)
Matt Hyatt: (24:09)
Dave Hollister: (24:10)
They do. We work on it. I think we do a better job of keeping it within our management team, but we stress it in our operational meetings. I want every single person to understand. That’s our goal. I mean, ultimately, I sit through classes and they say, “What’s your purpose? Why do you have a cleaning company?” I was like….You know, and really what it boils down to is, we want people to come in and work for Level Seven and be better for doing it. And hopefully it’s more than collecting a paycheck. Hopefully we’re giving them an opportunity to grow. But if it is just collecting a paycheck, at least we’re providing that service. But our goal is first, everybody that comes through our doors to be a better person in some way.
Matt Hyatt: (25:03)
Yeah, that’s great.
Steven Tomlinson: (25:04)
We really also encourage an ownership culture. We don’t expect for people to come in and hear us say, “This is the way it is, it’s the way it’s going to be and these are the rules you’ve got to play by period.” We expect for everybody to provide input, particularly those who are doing the work where the rubber hits the road, because that’s where you’re going to get the best ideas. So we always encourage feedback if somebody comes to us, I mean, as we’re onboarding people, we try to constantly remind them, “Look, if there’s a better way of doing this, let’s talk about.” We want to hear about it because that is one of my favorite goals is that we are constantly striving for improvement.
Matt Hyatt: (25:41)
Steven Tomlinson: (25:43)
Yeah. I think that remaining pliable is important.
Matt Hyatt: (25:47)
We have a lot in common. So one of our values is find a better way. Another one of our values is have a blast. You know, we like to have fun. It’s the last value, have a blast, because you have to do the other ones to have permission to have fun, but it is on there because I think that’s so important. That’s awesome. So, yeah, you mentioned that you don’t often get into an argument. I’ve been running as the sole shareholder of Rocket IT, and so that has its pluses and its minuses. You know, for a very long time, it was me doing all the work. It wasn’t another partner to help take some of the load off. Now I’ve got a great leadership team and maybe it’s not so bad anymore, but back in the day, that was a big thing. So how do you resolve disputes? What happens when you’ve got two people that might have a difference of opinion in how to get things done? Do you just arm wrestle or how does that work?
Steven Tomlinson: (26:48)
I think we do a good job checking egos at the door. I think that Dave and I both are able to listen to not only each other, but to those around us. And if we’re in a meeting and I look at it this way, and I say, “Guys, I really feel pretty strongly that this is the direction we need to go, and let’s set things up like XYZ.” And then Dave or Schalk or Margo chimes in and says, “No, you’re not thinking about this right. You’re not thinking about this clearly.” I got no problem, and then I would say that about everybody around the table, stepping back and saying, “If your idea is better than mine, I don’t need to own it.” I mean, I don’t have to be the guy that came up with the right idea. I just want the right idea.
Matt Hyatt: (27:35)
Is that right Dave?
Dave Hollister: (27:36)
Absolutely. It really is. It really is.
Matt Hyatt: (27:36)
Okay good. Alright, hey, you know, trust, but verify. I just want to make sure.
Steven Tomlinson: (27:43)
I really am speaking for everybody in our senior management on our team there, but particularly I think it starts with me and Dave.
Dave Hollister: (27:50)
Ultimately, Steven and I, we hire people that are way smarter than us, and we recognize that we’re not the smartest guys in the room. We’re humble enough to say, “You know what? Your idea might be better than mine.” And like you said, we check our egos at the door. I mean, it really hasn’t been an issue. We may have had a couple of disagreements, but nothing that we can’t just talk about and get through.
Matt Hyatt: (28:18)
Right. It sounds like you’re very, very intentional about the way that you’re building the business and the way that you’re focused on operations. Not everyone is. A lot of folks are, “Look, this is a job and I got to get in here and get it done and it’s insanity all day long, and then I’m exhausted at the end of the day,” and then repeat. Where does that come from? Is that something you’ve just sort of learned over time? Or is there maybe a process? You know, like a lot of people are doing like EOS, the Entrepreneurs Operating System, things like that. Is there something that you’re using as a structure or is this more organic and sort of figuring it out along the way?
Steven Tomlinson: (28:56)
I think it is organic. And I think it’s one of the reasons that Dave and I clicked early on is that we both believe in process and we both believe in systems and you have to. You know the old attitude, you can’t steer the ship if you’re down below bailing out water. And there are some strategies where, I mean, honestly these past few weeks feels like for me, that I just have no choice, like I’m drinking from a fire hose every day. But to your point, you’ve got these peaks and valleys and these growing pains. You got to take advantage of the times that are kind of smooth sailing and, let’s always watch what we’re doing strategically. Let’s always look at how we could be doing this better, but that’s a mindset that Dave brought in immediately too.
Matt Hyatt: (29:45)
Where does that come from Dave?
Dave Hollister: (29:46)
Well, so in the landscaping business, we got to a point where we had a great core group of guys and I had them so trained and working so efficiently that when I would try to bring somebody in from the outside, my guys would literally run. I mean, I’d have a group of four guys that would do 40 to 50 yards in a day.
Matt Hyatt: (30:10)
Oh wow. Are you serious?
Dave Hollister: (30:10)
Yeah, people would come in and they would be like, how many are we doing? And I mean, it got to the point where the first person out of the truck was the edger. Second person will start in the machine. If I saw somebody weed eating, I’m like, oh no, no, no, no, no, no. So I mean, we got it down and I knew that we had to finish a yard in seven and a half minutes, and people were paying 300 bucks a month and anyways, it made it really, really, really difficult to hire people because my guys were running so much in order to get it done out of necessity and just out of loyalty to us that they didn’t want to quit, even though they were working like crazy.
Matt Hyatt: (30:53)
Dave Hollister: (30:53)
And so for me, it really helped me learn. I want to stay ahead of that labor curve. I mean, there’s a good balance. You don’t want to get too far ahead or you’re not making a profit, but the flip side is you don’t want to be so far behind. We couldn’t hire anybody. We couldn’t get people to come in. We couldn’t grow, you know, both my boss and I were working so many hours that, I was finally so burnt out and I realized he didn’t want to grow because we couldn’t hire people. And so I just kind of plateaued and I continued to work just ridiculous hours. And I was like, I can’t continue to do this. So I’ve really always had that mindset of “Look, we can’t be killing our guys. We’ve got to be kind of ahead of the curve, be able to plan, and yet still be able to be profitable at the same.” So it’s always been a forefront of the way I think, and it’s from being in the middle of it.
Matt Hyatt: (31:54)
Well, it sounds like that experience has served you well. I can’t remember was it, E-Myth where they were talking about working in the business versus working on the business?
Steven Tomlinson: (32:05)
Matt Hyatt: (32:05)
And I think that’s so important for leaders of a business to be able to step away from, okay, I’ve just got to grind. You know, there are days and weeks sometimes where we have to do that, but the mindset, if we can get to the point where we’re focusing our energy and attention on working on the business long-term, that’s going to be way better every time. It sounds like you guys have done a really great job with that.
Dave Hollister: (32:31)
Steven Tomlinson: (32:31)
Thank you. We try.
Matt Hyatt: (32:34)
So tell us about what’s happening right now in the field. Like I said, we’re in the throws of this pandemic. We’ve got the Delta variant threatening the possibility that we have to go back to everybody working from home and things like that. What are you seeing out there in the field with what businesses are doing to cope with these rapidly changing conditions?
Dave Hollister: (33:05)
Steven Tomlinson: (33:06)
Go ahead Dave.
Matt Hyatt: (33:08)
This is a hard one. You take it Dave.
Dave Hollister: (33:11)
Some of the businesses, they’ve kind of left it up to their employees whether they want to bring it back yet. I think moving forward, we’re always going to have some sort of hybrid working space. But you know what we found is from a cleaning perspective and contracts and getting new contracts, a lot of people are very hesitant to go ahead and bid out their janitorial because they don’t know what the future holds. They might be running at a 40% capacity where pre-pandemic they’re at a hundred percent or 90%. So they’re real hesitant to kind of change the scope of the cleaning. We’ve run into that. But you know, in terms of the Delta variant, I think people are honestly just so done with it. They’re ready to just get past it. They don’t want to believe this is happening again. I’m going to go to this 80,000 sold out event at Mercedes-Benz stadium no matter what. I’m good, I’ve been vaccinated.
Steven Tomlinson: (34:25)
Yeah, that’s right. I would say the same thing. I mean, certainly when it really hit the fan last year, everybody, I mean, you know, I for one was like, disinfecting my groceries before I brought them in. Everybody is just like, “I don’t know what to do,” and there’s not a lot of data to work with. And there’s all kinds of speculation. Now we know a little bit more, and I think that things don’t have that same sense of urgency that they did last year. Even though if you look at the numbers it’s pretty scary what’s going on right now. I do think the vaccinations definitely give people some peace of mind, but we have seen the uptick in a lot of the disinfectant services is nothing really like it was last year.
Matt Hyatt: (35:14)
Interesting. Okay. Huh. Well, I guess only time will tell, right?
Steven Tomlinson: (35:19)
Matt Hyatt: (35:19)
So tell us a little bit more, I want to go back to the culture thing just a little bit and your team. You’d sort of alluded to kind of high turnover. And I saw a statistic multiple places recently saying 40% turnover is what’s sort of predicted nationally, right? How do you work with bringing new team members in and getting them up to speed on what the culture is in your organization so that they understand what’s happening? What’s the process for that?
Dave Hollister: (36:05)
Part of our onboarding processes for one is going through our values.
Matt Hyatt: (36:11)
So right up front?
Dave Hollister: (36:12)
Right upfront. This is what’s important to us. This is who we are. And we work very independently. We work well together. You have to be self-motivating and we make it very clear on the front end, what we’re looking for when we’re trying to hire somebody and we’ve made plenty of mistakes. We brought people in who didn’t fit on the bus, and being able to recognize that and recognize that somebody doesn’t fit and doing something about it allows the rest of your team to say, “Okay, we’re not gonna put up with mediocrity, and we’re not going to let you try to pick up for this person because they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing.” I think just to go back to what you’re saying, just a good onboarding process and we always like to celebrate people, especially when we bring them onto our management team. We bring everybody out, we celebrate the first day that they’re there, and we’ll just go have them bring their family.
Matt Hyatt: (37:14)
Really? Wow. Great.
Dave Hollister: (37:16)
And really just try to make them feel home. I know that I heard some sort of stat saying people start the first day at work, and they get sent some papers they get sent and put in their office and then they fill out the paperwork. You know, 40% of the people I think want to quit after the first day or start looking for another job. And so we try to combat that by being the complete opposite by really trying to celebrate them, be as helpful as we can, bring them on board and try and show them what their job’s gonna look like and be very clear with what our expectations are.
Matt Hyatt: (37:57)
Yeah. I love that. You know, something we talk about here at Rocket IT every once in a while, and it sounds like you guys are focused on this also, is curating experiences for the people that we interact with. So you’ve obviously spent a lot of time on that with your customers of, “Hey, when we meet a prospect for the first time, here’s the experience that I want them to have.” The same thing with a new employee. This is the experience I want them to have so that when they walk away and you say, wow, that was pretty awesome. And the reality is it was all planned, right? You had a structure in place and a system in place for that. And it sounds like you’re doing a great job of that. That does make me think about the reason you guys got on my radar in the first place is Steven and I met at our local chamber of commerce and you’re on the board there, which is impressive because a lot of leaders really need to be in the community for a very long time before they’re invited to participate at a board level in some of their most important community organizations. And here you are 5, 6, 7 years in and on the board of our chamber of commerce. So obviously community is an important part of what you guys do. Can you tell me, is there a strategy behind that? Is it all about more business for Level Seven or…? It doesn’t seem like that. It seems like there’s more to it than that. I’d love to kind of hear about what your approach is and your thinking on this topic.
Steven Tomlinson: (39:29)
Yeah, I think Dave hit on it earlier a little. We want to make what we do meaningful, not only to us, but to everybody on our team. And it’s what we ultimately sell as a commodity. I mean, granted, we’d like to think of ourselves as the gold standard in our industry. And I think we could certainly lay a legitimate claim to that, but at least in our market, but you know, cleaning a building is, it is unsexy and it’s easy to look at it like, well, somebody wants a job and they need a paycheck. And so we’re going to give them this task to do, and then we’re going to pay them. And that’s the exchange. And when you think about, well, I’m going to look back on my career like I did something meaningful. How did we take advantage of our presence in a community to actually bring about some change in a positive way, and the communities in which we do business, and that is in our mission statement.
Matt Hyatt: (40:33)
Steven Tomlinson: (40:35)
So, you know, immediately we’re thinking about ways to do that. We volunteer time doing things like planting trees with City of Chamblee, and we’ve organized our own civic cleanup events.
Matt Hyatt: (40:54)
Steven Tomlinson: (40:56)
But the chamber is a great way to do that. Honestly, I mean, there are industry groups that help you get plugged into like IFMA and BOMA, in our world where, you know, vendors and property managers can kind of coexist, and there are a lot charity opportunities to work through those as well. But really getting involved in the Chamblee chamber early on, which is a much smaller chamber, but a terrific thing.
Matt Hyatt: (41:19)
Is that where you’re headquartered? Chamblee?
Steven Tomlinson: (41:20)
Our office is actually in Doraville right now.
Matt Hyatt: (41:21)
Okay. So you’re close. Right in that community. Those two are, for our listeners that might not be from here, right next to each other.
Steven Tomlinson: (41:26)
Yup. Yup. That’s right. And then, but we are actually, hopefully if everything goes through with our building we have under contract, we’ll be Gwinnicians here in a couple of months.
Matt Hyatt: (41:38)
Oh this is news! I knew you were looking. I don’t think I’d heard the update that you got one figured out.
Steven Tomlinson: (41:42)
We hope to be closing in maybe 30 or 40 days, if all goes well.
Matt Hyatt: (41:46)
Wow. That’s exciting.
Steven Tomlinson: (41:48)
So we’ll be on Medlock Bridge in Peachtree Corners.
Matt Hyatt: (41:52)
Great neighborhood, great place to be.
Steven Tomlinson: (41:53)
But we’d always heard great things about the Gwinnett Chamber and obviously it’s a big organization and Gwinnett is such a terrific business community. And we did a lot of business in Gwinnett. We had a lot of relationships there and of course, right on the border of Dekalb and Gwinnett anyway. We’ve been involved with the Chamblee Chamber, which we really enjoyed. And we met a ton of great people and it does. I mean, it gives you a sense of meaning in what you’re doing, to be plugged into the community. But we dragged our feet on the Gwinnett Chamber. I don’t know why. If I had to go back in time, we would have done it earlier, but it was probably what, 2017 or 18, we first sat down with Vince and but once we got plugged in there, we were blown away by what type of organization it is. We just said, look, let’s, let’s go full tilt. Let’s get in the Chairman’s Club list. Let’s really run with this because its organization is unbelievable.
Matt Hyatt: (42:55)
We do have, no kidding, we have one of the finest chambers of commerce in the country right here in our community and absolutely makes sense to belong to it and then take part. Well, like I said, I’ve admired you a lot in the way that you’ve approached the community and your involvement in the community. I think it’s just awesome. And I think, yes, it’s a great way to build our businesses. I’ve certainly built my business at our local chamber, but it’s also just a great way to build really meaningful relationships and to get back to community that’s so important to us. So, nice job.
Dave Hollister: (43:33)
We’re going to throw on there that we partner with the Rainbow Village.
Matt Hyatt: (43:37)
Hey, we love the Rainbow Village. Yeah, absolutely. Well, this building, that’s big news. Congratulations.
Dave Hollister: (43:44)
Steven Tomlinson: (43:44)
Matt Hyatt: (43:44)
So, it sounds like you’re a little over a month out from closing?
Dave Hollister: (43:49)
We hope so. October 4th.
Steven Tomlinson: (43:50)
We’ve still got some boxes to check but we’re on the right track.
Matt Hyatt: (43:54)
I would imagine. We bought our building in 2017 and there are lots of boxes of check, right? A lot of work to be done. Not only to find the building, make sure it’s the right one, but then to make sure our ducks in a row for financing and how we’re going to pay for it and all that stuff. At least you’re able to show rock style stability. So that’s good. I’m excited for you guys. I can’t wait to see that.
Steven Tomlinson: (44:23)
We’ll have to, we’ll host you there.
Matt Hyatt: (44:26)
You’ll have to have a big open house event or something like that.
Steven Tomlinson: (44:28)
That would be nice.
Matt Hyatt: (44:31)
That would be awesome. Before we wrap up, I do have a couple of questions for you. All right. So tell me what does the client look like for you? I know we touched on it earlier and honestly, I’m making some wild assumptions based on what I’ve seen on your website and our discussions in the past. And for me, I sort of understand it to be commercial office space and industrial warehouse type locations. How do you define what that perfect customer looks like? And what are sort of the parameters of what a win looks like when you meet somebody?
Steven Tomlinson: (45:04)
That’s a great question and a timely question for us. We’ve actually just been through this exercise very recently with a consultant who we think very highly of. It’s been very helpful to us. When you sit back and think, what is our core customer? Who is that person? Who is that company? Because we do serve a wide array of property verticals. And, to your point, of course, office buildings need cleaning and industrial facilities and some retail in some cases, institutional and churches. And so it’s a wide range.
Matt Hyatt: (45:42)
It is. That is a wide range.
Steven Tomlinson: (45:43)
We sort of accidentally got into sports and entertainment facilities doing work for the contractor that built out Mercedes-Benz Stadium. We came in and pressure washed the entire stadium from top to bottom.
Matt Hyatt: (45:57)
That’s a big stadium.
Steven Tomlinson: (45:59)
Yeah. It is a big one. And it was a big job, but it was a golden opportunity for us. We still work with Mercedes-Benz Stadium today. We do a lot of work with them. We do post event cleaning and a number of other services there too. And then from that, we got work at State Farm Arena, and now we have work at some of the music venues around town like Cellairis at Lakewood.
Matt Hyatt: (46:26)
Wow. You have some big name clients under your belt. It’s very recognizable.
Steven Tomlinson: (46:31)
Yeah, it looks good on a resume, but that being said, not all the biggest feathers in your cap are necessarily your ideal customer. Sometimes you may want a customer because it looks good on a resume. But when we sit down and we say, okay, who are we really after? Who are we here to serve and who we can align with best. Obviously one of the defining factors is someone that pays the bills and their checks don’t bounce. That’s a big one.
Dave Hollister: (47:03)
Steven Tomlinson: (47:04)
On time, right. But also that they have a genuine need for what we do, our core business, and they’re looking for a partner. They’re not necessarily looking for us to provide warm bodies and instruct what to do. They want us to bring our expertise and it gives us a chance to come in and write a scope of work for their needs and manage it and find efficiencies. And that’s where we shine.
Dave Hollister: (47:33)
We’re not ever going to be the cheapest outfit, so if somebody is just trying to hire somebody based on cost, we’re not going to be a good fit. When we think about an ideal client, we want somebody who is looking for good quality work. But at the same time, knowing that…I don’t know how to say this without sounding… Is willing to pay for it I guess, and realizes our value.
Matt Hyatt: (48:02)
Well, they recognize it as an investment.
Dave Hollister: (48:05)
Yes, and recognize the investment and what we’re going to bring to the table. Ultimately what we do is, we strive to take a problem of cleaning off of their plates. The way we look at it is if we’re on your radar, we’re doing something wrong. If somebody’s noticing that something wasn’t cleaned, we’re not doing this, we’re not doing our job. And our job is to keep the cleaning issue, because everybody’s got tons of issues. The last thing they want to be worried about whether or not the place is clean or not. In that regard, that plays a big part of it. Whether or not they’re big enough to where it’s scalable, whether they have more than one office building plays a part in that as well.
Matt Hyatt: (48:53)
Yeah. I love it. Well, I do you think that’s really important to find folks that look at their spend on services as an investment, a hundred percent. We want that for our IT service clients that they’re looking at as not just an expense, but an investment in their team and their growth and efficiency, and ultimately, any decent investments should have a return. Just thinking about this building, I walked up to this building today and we try to take very good care of our building, but I noticed that on the shady side of the building, there’s a little bit of spot there that probably needs to be pressure washed. My expectation is as we get that pressure washed, and it gives us a return. We’ve got space for lease in this building, so if somebody walks up to the building, we want it to shine. We’re going to expect that we’re going to command a higher lease rate than we might, if all our shadows are looking a little tired. That’s good. Well, it’ll be interesting to see where you land in terms of what your ideal client looks like. I know from experience when we’re new in a business, what we do is what people are willing to pay for. Can you take care of this? Absolutely. I can take care of that. A hundred percent I’m there. But then over time, as we begin to build our base and we’ve got some revenue going, then I think we can start to hone in on where do we really shine?
Steven Tomlinson: (50:32)
Matt Hyatt: (50:32)
And that’s not, pardon the pun for you guys, right? Where can we really make a difference? And where are we comfortable? What’s the lane where we feel like we can bring the most value to the table? I think that’s a constantly evolving thing. We do it here. We have a discussion regularly about the things that we need to trim and focus on and where are we good at things and where maybe you should we leave your expertise to someone else?
Steven Tomlinson: (50:59)
I think it’s good to learn how to say no. It’s good, you know? And we have slowly learned how to do that.
Dave Hollister: (51:07)
I use the analogy all the time. As you know, what’s better, the restaurant that has three things on their menu, or the one that has 14 pages of things? Because you can’t do everything well, you have to really hone in on what you are good at it and focus on.
Matt Hyatt: (51:24)
Right. Yeah, the restaurants that have the spaghetti and the burritos, I usually try to stay away from them. They don’t always work out too well. You mentioned something that I want to touch base on really quick. You mentioned that you’re working with a professional. I’m not sure what you said, but yeah, consultant. So I heard coach. I’m a huge believer in bringing in mentors and people that have walked the walk before. Can you just touch on that for a couple of minutes? How did you decide to do that and what’s the goal there and how’s that going?
Steven Tomlinson: (52:01)
Well, I think Dave also touched on this a little bit earlier as we know what we don’t know and we’re not afraid to speak up.
Matt Hyatt: (52:10)
I kind of took that as internal team members, but you’re bringing in experts from outside, too.
Steven Tomlinson: (52:15)
Yeah, absolutely. It started with probably somebody we met through the Chamblee Chamber. A friend of ours, who is also a working partner in some capacity. He introduced us to this guy who’s involved with Vistage. I’m not sure if you’re familiar? So Dave has been plugged in with a Vistage group for now what, two or three years?
Dave Hollister: (52:42)
I think I’m going on three.
Steven Tomlinson: (52:43)
Matt Hyatt: (52:43)
So you’re really doing a lot to sharpen the saw. Brining a business coach, participating in Vistage, I think most of our listeners are probably familiar, but basically a CEO, entrepreneur peer group.
Steven Tomlinson: (52:58)
And we really like the CEO of Dave’s Vistage group. I think that’s what they call them right here. But he’s the chair. Mark Borrelia is the guy’s name and he’s a whiz and he’s been super helpful to us. Then we’re kind of up to our eyeballs in consultants right now. But as we grow and I think it is part of it. I don’t have a sales background, but I oversee a sales department. I know how to do what I’ve learned, how to do by doing, but I know that there are better processes and better ways to do it, especially as we grow. As we are setting ourselves up to scale, we want to make sure we build these things right.
Matt Hyatt: (53:45)
Yeah, I love it. Well, actually, so let’s jump in on that really quick. You said setting ourselves up to scale. We talked earlier about kind of the plan from the bottom left to the top right? If you kind of look out 10 years, Steven, what is your organization look like? What’s the goal there? The vision for your company?
Steven Tomlinson: (54:06)
Well, we look ahead to technology and it become an increasing role.
Matt Hyatt: (54:12)
Steven Tomlinson: (54:12)
Yeah. We’re going to be calling you, Matt.
Matt Hyatt: (54:19)
I was hoping that would lead to that.
Steven Tomlinson: (54:23)
Well, the software changes all the time and some of the hardware changes all the time. Robotics is not quite where it’s going to be, but it’ll get there soon.
Matt Hyatt: (54:34)
Steven Tomlinson: (54:35)
There’s some autonomous floor scrubbers and vacuum cleaners right now that are out.
Matt Hyatt: (54:42)
Steven Tomlinson: (54:42)
For instance, yeah, certainly that kind of thing, which there’s geo tracking and you can kind of program robots to do the vacuuming. It’s got to be the right space. It’s going to take some time.
Matt Hyatt: (54:55)
Probably an open floor space?
Dave Hollister: (54:57)
Yeah, they’re not opening that door.
Matt Hyatt: (55:00)
Steven Tomlinson: (55:02)
But one that I thought we came across it, I thought it was very interesting. Right now we do a good bit of glass cleaning services on the exterior of buildings. Now we don’t self employ the rope crews. We sub that work out to reliable partners. But my guess is 10, maybe 15, who knows how long in some number of years from now in the near future, you won’t see too many swing stages on the side of buildings and guys hanging from ropes, they are going to be robots. There’s already some technology in the works there.
Matt Hyatt: (55:38)
Steven Tomlinson: (55:39)
So it’s interesting and of course we don’t want to be behind the eight ball there. We are constantly thinking of ways and most directly right now for us, that really means good operating software. We are implementing a software program right now that we’ve customized for our business model and it helps a lot.
Matt Hyatt: (56:01)
Well, who knew? I mean, honestly, to go from really what I think has arguably been a history of manual labor in this industry to now we have to be technologists and visionaries and thinking about things like software applications and robotics and drones, crazy stuff. Wow. Well tell you what. That English and economics degree that is awesome guys. Well, thanks for sharing that. So let’s do what we call our lightning round. These are the same three questions we ask all of our guests. We can jump in with each of you or just one of you. It just depends on how things go. One thing that I love to understand is usually most of us have somebody in our path that we’ve run across that really made a profound impact on our lives. Can you guys each tell us about who that was for you?
Dave Hollister: (56:55)
I can go first. I talked about them a little earlier. It was my old boss, Andy Bachelor. I learned a lot of what I should do and shouldn’t do from him, but he always treated me like I was his partner rather than his employee. And he showed me how to treat people. Like he always treated people very well, but like I was saying earlier, I learned how to hire ahead of the path because I don’t want to fall on the same rut. He really was instrumental. He didn’t have consultants. He’d always have me in the financial meetings. I always had the PNL.
Matt Hyatt: (57:37)
Really? Wow. He really put a lot of faith and confidence in you. That’s incredible.
Dave Hollister: (57:40)
Absolutely. And so I learned a lot from him. You know I don’t know that I’ve even called him to thank him at this point.
Matt Hyatt: (57:51)
Hopefully he’s listening. You might want to call him though, just to be sure.
Dave Hollister: (57:55)
He’ll be appreciative, but I’m very appreciative of the time and outside of that it was my dad.
Matt Hyatt: (58:04)
Fantastic. How about you, Steven?
Steven Tomlinson: (58:06)
That’s what I was also going to say, my dad first. Certainly, worked with and worked under and learned from a lot of different people that I’ve admired. But my dad taught my brother and sister and me early on to always do what you said you were going to do. And if you’re going to take the time to do anything at all, do it right.
Matt Hyatt: (58:30)
Man, I’ll tell you about it. That all by itself, just to do what you said you’re going to do, sets you apart from 80% of your competition in any business. Not just, not just cleaning business, but great lesson.
Dave Hollister: (58:41)
Yeah, I think so. It’s always been kind of stuck in my wiring and my siblings wiring too and I think it’s served us well.
Matt Hyatt: (58:48)
That’s awesome. So, what’s the single most important lesson you’ve learned and let’s kind of keep it to this career, the cleaning crew? Is there anything particular you guys have learned that’s been super important?
Dave Hollister: (59:04)
Keep the right people on the bus.
Matt Hyatt: (59:06)
Oh yeah, that’s important.
Dave Hollister: (59:07)
People that don’t fit, the longer they are on the bus, the more of a cancer it is to everybody. The quicker you can figure out who the right people are, the faster you can get pointed in the right direction.
Matt Hyatt: (59:22)
It’s tough to do. Nobody wants to fire someone, but at the same time you do run into the situations where, you know what, sometimes the best thing, not only for us, but also for the person that’s leaving, to go find a better bus, something that’s better suited for you.
Steven Tomlinson: (59:40)
Absolutely. That’s true. And I would say once you find those people that are the right people absolutely empower them.
Matt Hyatt: (59:49)
Yeah, I love it.
Steven Tomlinson: (59:49)
Bring people along who are going to do better than either Dave or I, or anybody in our senior management team could do. Like, you know, we, we expect when we hire someone that we are.
Matt Hyatt: (01:00:01)
Going to raise the bar.
Steven Tomlinson: (01:00:02)
That’s right. Absolutely.
Matt Hyatt: (01:00:04)
Yeah. I like that. I like that approach. So tell me, how do you guys learn? Are you book people? Are you podcast people? YouTube people?
Dave Hollister: (01:00:15)
So, I can’t read. I’m a book on tape guy. One of the recent books that I listened to was Emotional Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine. I think I’m probably butchering his name.
Matt Hyatt: (01:00:34)
I’ve heard of that before.
Dave Hollister: (01:00:36)
You know, it teaches you, you have but two sides of the brain and one’s the survival side of the brain and the other’s the Sage side of the brain. And so as you grow up as a baby, you are in the survival tactics, which as you grow, can actually turn out to be harmful. They can be why you’re successful and also go overboard on the other side. And it’s being able to recognize, what they call saboteurs, what your saboteurs are and how to recognize them and get through them and think more of a positive state of mind. It’s been awesome for me. It’s been a great book.
Matt Hyatt: (01:01:20)
Very cool. You know, I know you’re joking when you say you can’t read, but I am the same way. Especially as I’ve gotten older, it’s harder for me to sit down and have the patience to get through something longer. And so I often have to listen if I’m going to get through it. I’ll fall asleep.
Dave Hollister: (01:01:40)
I mean, I’m in the car all the time. So it’s easy to hit play either on a podcast or, you know, a book on tape or something to that effect.
Matt Hyatt: (01:01:50)
For Chris and Jessica who are in the room here, tapes were these things that we used back in the old days to playback audio.
Dave Hollister: (01:02:01)
I did say book on tape didn’t I? An audio book. I apologize.
Matt Hyatt: (01:02:08)
How about you Steven?
Steven Tomlinson: (01:02:09)
Oh man. I love to read, but I always read at night right before bedtime. And if I may get 15 minutes, I’m like, because I crash. So I’m a very slow reader for that reason. I might carve out a little bit of time on a weekend. I also always have four or five books going at the same time. I’m so ADD, but sometimes I’m in the mood for fiction and sometimes in the mood for something completely different. I’m a, dork flag a little bit, but I’m reading Marcus Aurelius Meditations right now. I like philosophy stuff.
Matt Hyatt: (01:02:49)
You’re a cerebral guy.
Steven Tomlinson: (01:02:49)
Well, sometimes, sometimes much less so. I try to pretend, but I do think it’s important to read fiction too. I really enjoy it. There’s a lot to be gained from that. I think it teaches you empathy to get in the mind of people who are not you.
Matt Hyatt: (01:03:12)
They’re valuable too.
Steven Tomlinson: (01:03:13)
I like all sorts of different fiction, but I’m reading a Ken Follett book right now called Fall of Giants.
Matt Hyatt: (01:03:24)
Steven Tomlinson: (01:03:25)
But I’m definitely a podcast guy. If I’m working out or working in the yard or driving, I like the Tim Ferriss podcast. I like a little bit more mindless entertainment, Dax Shepard I think does a really good job.
Matt Hyatt: (01:03:41)
He does have a great show, doesn’t he?
Steven Tomlinson: (01:03:42)
Yeah. It’s entertaining. He’s got good guests.
Matt Hyatt: (01:03:44)
He has some pretty deep questions too. He’ll easily wander into the woods with you and really pull out some stuff you probably wouldn’t normally hear on a podcast.
Steven Tomlinson: (01:03:55)
That’s right. And I like Philosophize This. And there’s another one that I’ve recently been turned onto called the Knowledge Project by Shane Parrish.
Matt Hyatt: (01:04:12)
Oh, I haven’t heard of that one.
Steven Tomlinson: (01:04:13)
Yeah, he’s a real smart guy and asks really good questions and has good guests also.
Matt Hyatt: (01:04:19)
I will call you a prolific podcastor then.
Steven Tomlinson: (01:04:21)
I think that’s fair to say these days. I’m definitely deep into some podcasting.
Matt Hyatt: (01:04:25)
Yeah, man with all the coaches and everything else, your brain must be growing at an amazing rate.
Steven Tomlinson: (01:04:31)
I don’t know. I might be deflecting most of it.
Matt Hyatt: (01:04:34)
So for our listeners that are interested in reaching out to either of you guys or Level Seven, what’s the best way to get in touch with you?
Steven Tomlinson: (01:04:41)
I would say just go to our website. It’s easiest thing to do. l7fs.com.
Matt Hyatt: (01:04:47)
Wow, you have maybe one of the shortest domain names I’ve heard in a while. Look at you.
Steven Tomlinson: (01:04:50)
I know. We’re pretty proud of it. Letter L number seven, FS as in facility services .com. It’s easy to contact us from there.
Matt Hyatt: (01:05:00)
Awesome. You’ve been terrific guests. Thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate it. Good job y’all.
Steven Tomlinson: (01:05:06)
Thank you so much.
Dave Hollister: (01:05:07)
Matt Hyatt: (01:05:08)
On that note, it’s time to wrap things up. Steven and Dave from myself and our audience, thank you for joining me today. To our listeners, thank you for tuning in. We hope that this episode provided you with some new ideas to help grow your business.