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Reuben Saltzman

How to be a good business competitor (with Dirk van Reenen)

Dirk van Reenen, the co-founder and owner of Inspector Empire Builder (IEB) joins the show to talk about the business of home inspections. The show starts off with Dirk introducing himself and his company. He shares how they work with other companies by opening up the lanes of growth in structure and the people in the organization, which opens up the scalability, growth, profitability, and time freedom of companies. He also points out that if you want to have a great business, you have to have great people.

Dirk also discusses the size and growth of IEB, where entrepreneurship flaws happen, and etiquette for hiring competitors from competitors.

TRANSCRIPTION 

The following is a transcription from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it may be slightly incomplete or contain minor inaccuracies due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

Dirk Van Reenen: First off, guys, thanks for having me on the show. I am really excited to be here ’cause I love you guys. I’m big fans of Structure Tech and what you guys are doing, the way you guys do business. So it’s an honor for me to be on here, and I’m excited to talk with you guys today.

Bill Oelrich: Welcome, everybody. You’re listening to Structure Talk, a Structure Tech presentation. My name is Bill Oelrich, alongside Tessa Murry and Reuben Saltzman. As always, we’re your three-legged stool coming to you from the Northland. Normally we’re talking about houses and specific things about houses, but on today’s episode, we’re gonna do a right turn and we’re gonna talk about the business of home inspections a little bit. We have a special guest with us, Dirk van Reenen, co-founder and owner of IEB, Inspector Empire Builder based in Houston, Texas. Dirk also owns company called BERGflow, also based in Texas, a business consulting company. And he’s very involved in a brand new project called Maris Adventure, which we’re not gonna get into today, but we’re gonna talk about the business of home inspection on today’s episode. So Dirk, thank you for joining us. Can you take a second and just introduce yourself? 

DR: Yeah. First off, guys, thanks for having me on the show. I am really excited to be here ’cause I love you guys, I’m big fans of Structure Tech and what you guys are doing, the way you guys do business. So it’s an honor for me to be on here and I’m excited to talk with you guys today. Kind of what my world exists of is helping service-based companies grow in scale. Typically, most of our clients are around the one to two to maybe $4 million range and they’re companies that have hit some serious roadblocks along the growth path, and now they’re wanting to figure some things out to go to the next level of success.

DR: So we work with companies to be able to open up the lanes of growth and structure, and especially working with the human system, the people in the organization to build better teams. And we find that a lot of times that’s what really opens up the scalability and growth of companies, and especially the profitability and time freedom part of it. So I’m blessed to do that, day in and day out, whether within IEB, working with home inspection companies, or in the BERGflow world where we work with all different types of companies. So that’s kinda my passion, and love what I do, and love to be able to work with people like you guys too.

Tessa Murry: Back at you, Dirk.

DR: Thank you.

[chuckle]

BO: So Reuben, you have been a member of IEB, and Structure Tech’s been a member of IEB for two and a half, three years. Time goes by fast.

Reuben Saltzman: Not even. Bill, you and I went down to an IEB event right before, right after Structure Tech joined, and that was maybe April or May of ’19. So it hasn’t even been two years yet, it feels like a lot longer. But we’re, yeah.

DR: A lot’s happened.

RS: A lot has happened.

BO: Yeah, there’s been a lot of learning and a lot of growth. And so.

RS: The world has changed. Dirk, you’ve got a really cool background, can you give us the 60-second or two-minute version of how you got to where you are here today? 

DR: Oh, man. [chuckle] Okay, let’s see if I can do this in 60.

TM: It’s gotta be more than 60 seconds, it’s gotta be more.

DR: I can do it in 60. Here’s the 60-second version, and if there’s anything that you wanna dive in further, we’ll do that. But I was born and raised in South Africa, and no, I’m not from a missionary family, that’s where my family’s from. I’m 15th-generation South African. We immigrated to Carroll, Texas, a small West Texas town when I was 14 years old. Started over with nothing, I went to school at West Texas A&M in Canyon, Texas, and then I bought a ski shop in Texas, which people think that that’s crazy. Anyway, ran that business for six years, that business failed in 2008, got into the asset liquidation business through auctioneering, and during the crash, we auctioned off a lot of houses, businesses, ended up starting my own auction company, got my real estate license, sold real estate with Prudential, joined Keller Williams in 2012.

DR: Immediately started expanding my business, became a brokerage leader with Keller Williams in 2014, and then ran a big office in Houston, got relocated to Columbia, Maryland, ran a big office there, it was actually one of the largest and fastest-growing Keller Williams offices worldwide. Decided the corporate thing wasn’t really for me, stepped down and launched BERGflow in 2017.

DR: One of my first clients was Greg Bryan, and he had one of the largest and fast-growing inspection companies in Texas. He hired me to help them grow and expand into multiple cities, and then he said, “Hey, we gotta go into the home inspection industry with all of that,” and I said, “I’m not sure about that,” but we kept meeting and talking about it, and I said, “Hey, let’s do it.” So we launched IEB in October of 2017. And so I’ve been working on two start-up companies over the last four years, and like Bill said we just launched another start-up company.

DR: But that’s about it on the professional side. Also just hit my 13th wedding anniversary this year. My wife, we dated for five years before that so we’ve been together half of our lives. We’ve got a 12-year-old son and a seven-year-old daughter, and love spending time with my family, also avid mountain biker, snowboarder and over-lander. That’s me.

RS: That’s awesome, that was a great summary.

TM: Awesome.

DR: That was longer than 60 seconds. Damn.

[chuckle]

RS: Sounded pretty close to me, it was concise and you hit all of the high points that I knew about at least. One thing I wanna say. You mentioned you got a 12 year old son. One of the first times I heard you talk, you were talking about going out and doing a teaching event in Dubai or something like that, I think that was it. And you talked about how you wanted to make sure that you’re not spending too much time away from family. So you said, “Well, I’m gonna bring my son with me. If I’m gonna go out there for a speaking event, I’ll bring him along, turn it into a family trip.” And I mean, right there, I was inspired. I was like, “Dude, he’s got it dialed in. I need to spend more time with this guy, and I’m stealing his ideas.”

[chuckle]

RS: And now any time I get asked to do any kinda speaking event for Home Inspectors, yeah, I’ll do it, but I’m taking one of my kids if I’m traveling somewhere. So it’s just turned into a nice kinda paid vehicle for me to take a trip one-on-one with one of my kids, and I can thank you for the inspiration for that, Dirk. So I love how you have a good focus on family, you’re not just 100% business, it’s a good split. So, I appreciate your inspiration.

DR: Yeah, you’re welcome, man. And I’m excited that you’re doing that ’cause that’s just such a cool experience to be able to travel with one of your children, especially solo. There’s just really cool things that come out of those kinda trips, like special moments, learning opportunities, and just deep connections that you don’t ever know, it’s gonna… I think when our kids get older, maybe the things that we remember when we were kids versus what our parents remember sometimes is very different.

DR: So just creating special moments with your kids is so cool and you never know what they’re gonna pick up on, but that’s really important. And by the way, the reason that I’m so focused on family today is because, man, for a lot of years in business, I was not focused on family. I was the guy that was all in on business and just trying to survive and build businesses, and the rationale was always, “When this business gets to a certain point, then I’m going to make time for my family, then we’ll take that trip, then we’ll do this,” and that day really never came. So when I started BERGflow in 2017, from the start, from year one startup, took more trips with our family, we really prioritized family time, traveling together, doing things like that. And as the business has grown, the family side of it has also exponentially grown and the experiences that we have as a family today.

BO: So Dirk, what do you think of the home inspection business now that you’ve been in and around it for the last couple of years? 

DR: Yeah, man, coming from a background of being a real estate agent and running some expansion teams and then running large brokerages, I never knew that the opportunities existed in the home inspection industry that I understand today. A lot of times, I think when you think about home inspectors, you think about just somebody, sole business owner or sole technician doing their thing, and I’d seen companies back in 2012-2016 that maybe had three or four or five inspectors. But man, in IEB today, we’ve got companies that are approaching 50 inspectors.

DR: These companies are blowing up, growing so fast, going into multiple cities, multiple states, things like that. And I think honestly, and I’ve told people this, I said, “Look, if I were to start a new service-based company today, and I had to choose between going into real estate sales, brokerage, things like that or home inspection, like 100%, I’d go into home inspection.” ‘Cause I think that there’s such unique opportunities in the home inspection space, anything from ancillary businesses, data, I think one of the biggest opportunities is that you’re in an industry that’s going through a transformation right now. Really going from a technician-minded, technician-based business owner to entrepreneurial-based business owners.

DR: And we’re seeing people that are coming in that have a bigger vision for really growing a business, focusing on technology, focusing on building teams, expanding things like that, and it’s not necessarily just somebody who’s saying, “Hey, I wanna go create a job for myself.” I think more and more people that come in today, and especially the companies we see in IEB, they come in because they are ready to build a business out of it, not just to create a job for themselves. So I think it’s an amazing industry, I think that there’s so much potential still moving forward. I think that there’s gonna be some exciting things that happen in the industry in the next couple of years with just the maturing of the industry, technology, things like that. So I definitely think it’s an industry to keep your eye on, and there’s a lot of opportunity.

TM: I was gonna ask a quick question. Dirk, how many companies are a part of IEB? How many home inspection businesses are members? 

DR: Yeah, we just hit 210 companies. Yeah, we’re just a little over three years in now, we’ve got 210 companies. But here’s the really cool thing. I think if you look at the number of home inspections that are being done in America by IEB companies, the percentage of all the IEB companies and the number of home inspections they do compared to the rest of the industry is gonna be a fairly decent percentage. Like I said, you guys are in the enterprise level of IEB, we’ve got 16 companies in that level now. I think the smallest enterprise company has somewhere around maybe 13-14, 15 inspectors, and then the larger ones now are approaching 50 plus. And again, these aren’t part-time type people, these are people that are really going full at it, doing a lot of inspections. So it’s really fun to see how the industry is being influenced by IEB, how things are changing, but the biggest thing I’m excited about is that the conversation’s changing, about what does it mean to truly be an inspection company and what can it mean? 

RS: Well, and that’s a big part of why I wanted to have you on the show today Dirk, because you were doing a coaching call with all of us at that one level and it was kind of a two-part thing. You had so much that we had to break it up into a couple of weeks. And you were talking to us about expanding into other markets and just being good competitors, good stewards of this profession. And it was such good stuff, as you were saying it, I was thinking, “I gotta get Dirk on the podcast to just wax on this,” ’cause it’s such a good message, and it doesn’t just apply to home inspections. If you’re in any type of small service industry, it applies to that too. Dirk, I wanna just give you the floor and have you say as much of that as you can think of. I wanna hear that again.

DR: One thing that I’ve learned is it’s never typically our competitors or the market that keep us from growing our businesses. It’s typically always our internal ability to grow our businesses, whether it be an upmarkets, downmarket, sure the market has some bearing on it, but it’s never what people think it is. Most people that are in business tend to think that if somebody new opens up a business, they’re competing with me, that’s a bad thing, and immediately they tend to go to a scarcity mindset and a protective-type mindset, and it’s hard not to. Because I think that’s just how we’ve been raised, it’s how typically our society functions is that if anybody pops up, they’re automatically considered a threat whether we know them or not. It’s like, that other business pops up, we’re automatically like, “Oh, we wanna go crush them,” without even knowing them or their story or who they are. And I’ve had a couple of, actually several experiences in my life where I had really great examples of people that were direct competitors yet helped each other, and really took the approach of, “Hey, we wanna help you in your business and if you ever need anything, let us know, let’s figure out how we can do more business.” And actually, I’ve seen that example in multiple industries.

DR: And especially when we look at IEB and we look at expanding, our largest companies in these big cities, and we’re talking about the biggest, some of the biggest home inspection companies in America, when they actually look at market share, they have tiny percentages of market share. And when it comes to how fast they can grow, their greatest challenge is they can’t hire and train people fast enough to handle the opportunities that are in front of them right now, the growth. So it’s got nothing to do with their competitors. And what we really strive to do in IEB, and really in everything that we deal within BERGflow too, is to really encourage people to get to know your competitors. Whether it’s somebody that’s just down the street from you or in your town, invite them out for a lunch, a cup of coffee, a beer, whatever it is, and just sit down and just get to know them. “Hey, we’re both competing against each other.” More than likely, if it’s two formidable-type competitors, they already know of each other, things like that, but so many times it’s like people are looking for every chance to take a shot at somebody else or stab them in the back and things like that. So we really believe that it’s going to be to your benefit to get to know your competitors and figure out ways on how you can help each other.

DR: Because one thing that I’ve learned is competition is good. When we look at the top companies that are out in the industries, they always have a fierce competitor that pushes them, and it doesn’t have to be a fierce competitor that you are at odds with. It could be a competitor that you literally go out and have a beer with, laugh together, share things. And man, in IEB, we have got large companies that are in the same city doing business with the same agents, using the same vendors, and we get together on a weekly basis and they openly share about their business. They openly help each other, they share their systems, their processes, what they’re doing. And it’s such a beautiful example of what it could look like to build an amazing business, support your competitors, and overall rising the tide that’s going to change the whole industry.

RS: It’s huge, it’s something that I appreciate so much, it’s the whole mindset at IEB. I’ve been in rooms that are filled with home inspectors and everybody seems to be very closely guarded. It’s like arms crossed, “I don’t wanna share what I’m doing.” I remember I tried to find a home inspector for a family member in another state, and I thought I found the right person. I was like, “Hey, I wanna hire you, or I want my sister-in-law to hire you, but I don’t see a sample inspection report on your website, could you share it with me?”

RS: And he’s like, “No, those are proprietary. I don’t share any of my secrets with anybody,” and it’s like, “This is something that you should have in front of you for anybody to see.” And it’s just such a scarcity mindset that, “Any little thing that I throw out there, you’re gonna steal and I won’t have any more.” But you enter the IEB community and it’s the exact opposite mindset, and if you don’t have that mindset, you’re gone.

DR: Well, that’s something that we engineered from the very start. When Greg said, “Hey, Dirk, let’s partner up and do this thing and train home inspectors. I told Greg, I said, “Well, here’s one thing that you’re gonna have to do. If you want me to be involved in this and give our time and different energy towards this, what we have to do is you have to lead the example of being transparent with your company, which means you’re gonna have to open your company up to all of your competitors, even ones that are in town.”

DR: And I told him, I said, “Hey, we wanna make sure that even if somebody is literally down the street from you, that you help train them,” ’cause there are other groups that have set examples that it’s one company per industry or something like that, one company per industry for town or things like that. And we just believe that, look, there’s enough abundance out there where you can help your competitors, even if they’re down the road. And Greg said, “Yes, I will do that.” And from the start in IEB, we just said, “Look, we wanna to be able to treat people with respect,” so there’s no degrading or bullying or beating people up or making people feel small for asking a question, like on our Facebook group, it doesn’t matter how silly the question is. Respect who that person is, respect where they are, and see how can you add value.

DR: And the same kinda thing, we openly encouraged sharing, like, “Hey guys, let’s share as much as possible, don’t try to hold any secret close to the vest, ’cause it’s not gonna serve you ultimately.” Share with other people and by the high-level sharing of ideas, you can collaborate at a higher level. So we really focused on engineering this very different type of culture in IEB. And one of the things when I first started doing this with Greg, he said, “Hey, you need to learn a little bit about the industry. I’m gonna add you to a couple of Facebook pages, there’s maybe three of them,” which were industry pages that people come together. And in about two weeks, my entire newsfeed on Facebook was just crazy.

DR: I was like, no, something was off, something was wrong. And there was just smack talking and just people berating other people, and I couldn’t understand what was happening. And I didn’t remember that Greg added me to these groups. But what was happening, these groups were popping up in my newsfeed, so much so that I stopped one day, everything, I said, “I gotta figure out, something is broken on my Facebook feed.” It’s negative, I couldn’t understand what was happening. And when I looked at it, everything was coming from these three Facebook groups that I was in, and I was just like…

DR: And I actually went into those Facebook groups and I looked at it, and I was like, “This is craziness.” And I immediately left those three groups, I told Greg, “We will never allow this in IEB.” So we coach people and train people, as soon as you become a member, we have a call about, “Hey,” who we are, how we handle things, how we support each other. And that’s why when you come to an IEB event, even if you don’t know anybody, within a day, you feel like you are so loved and cared for and part of a true family, not just even a community, a family of people that take care of each other that openly share. And one thing that we always get from people is just like, “We can’t believe how much people are sharing. We can’t believe that they are willing to share that thing about their business.” Because what it does is it accelerates growth, it accelerates learning, it accelerates collaboration, and what that does is it’s transforming the industry, it’s raising the professionalism, it’s raising how people are building businesses, and that’s what’s exciting.

BO: So Reuben, I wanna piggy back on something that you said earlier. You said people who come into this environment, they get kicked out. They don’t actually get kicked out, they just leave because they can’t tolerate the open conversation. And just because there’s a lot of open conversation doesn’t mean there’s agreement. There is robust discussion, back and forth, what’s right. Just because we all are friends, it doesn’t mean we agree, which is what I believe to be the magic of the community.

RS: Yeah, totally. We’re doing these walk-through evaluations for people now, and I had a good discussion with other people in IEB and they’re like, “Never! This is not the right thing to do. We need to do this.” But it’s all respectful. Nobody thinks, “I’m right and you’re wrong.” It’s, “I don’t agree with this, and here’s why.” That’s all it is. But it’s good, healthy discussions that help you potentially see some blind spots in your own ideas, your own thinking.

TM: Yeah, it’s a safe space to share different perspectives and learn things that can help improve yourself and improve your company too. That’s one thing, Dirk, I think that kinda took me by surprise when I was introduced to IEB. Because my introduction actually was about a year ago, from this point in time, right before the pandemic, I went down with another person from our company, Eric Carlsman, and we did the RGT, rapid growth training thing and…

DR: In Dallas.

TM: Yeah, in Dallas. And for anybody that doesn’t know IEB, they think, Okay, well, this is gonna be some resource for me to learn how to grow my business, but like you said, it’s more than just learning about the business side of things, a lot of times the thing holding businesses back from growing is actually internal factors within the people, and so IEB really takes time to kind of have you examine yourself and how you are as a person, and to work on growing and developing that side of it.

TM: It takes like a holistic approach, which is what I like to this business, it’s like to have a healthy mindset in business, you have to have a healthy mindset internally, first. Reuben, that kinda ties in with what you guys were saying before too when talking about just openly sharing industry standards and processes and reports and all that stuff. You’ve always said, Reuben, A rising tide lifts all boats, and that’s what it is. We can all share and make each other better, we don’t have to look at each other like competition.

RS: Yeah, it’s what attracted me so much to IEB right away, it’s like… Well, I’ve been pounding that message for so long, it’s like, Oh, look they’re saying the exact same thing. You know Dirk, I got a question for you. I wanna challenge you. What’s the elevator speech for IEB? How would you describe IEB? 

DR: I think today we’re starting to understand how to present it, but it’s still one of these things that you can’t really explain it, it’s like once you get into it, then you’re like, Okay, now I get it, and it’s exactly about what Tessa was saying about, is that most people think that they’re going to need some kind of tool or plug-in or new marketing strategy to really grow their business, and what they’re really hoping for is not actually to grow their business, right? The only reason that these people are out there trying to build businesses is they believe at some level that if their business gets to some point of profitability or even revenue or something, that their life is going to change, and that’s where the fundamental flaw in entrepreneurship happens, is that people believe that once I build, say, a million-dollar business, that all of a sudden my life is going to be different because here’s what happens, you build a million-dollar business and you’re working more than you ever have before, then you’re more stressed out than you ever have before and you look at your bank account and it still doesn’t look very good, that’s a very, very common thing.

DR: So then you think, “Okay, well, maybe I just need to get to five million,” and then you get to five million… I talk to people on a very regular basis that have 5 million-dollar businesses, they’re like, I’m ready to just walk away from my business and I just laugh and I’m like, Hey, just hang on. There’s a few things that you need to start focusing on differently than what you focused on before that’ll get you to that 10 million-dollar mark and actually give you a quality of life back but…

DR: I think for us, if I were to say that the elevator speech, it’s the proven systems and models on how to grow faster with higher profitability and more time freedom, and that’s the most simple way that I can say it is. Look, we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here, we’re using proven systems and processes, and part of that, just like Tessa said, it’s not just about like your business, your business is just a thing, it’s like this living organism over here, but it’s just a thing, what makes a business great are the people in a business.

DR: No matter how great technology is… The reason… If we’re talking a home inspection, the reason that you exist today is to serve another human being, that human being has a need, they’re making a large purchase and they need to get some information about their purchase to make sure, are they doing the right thing? It’s got nothing to do with what’s in that house, it doesn’t have to do with the pipes or the air conditioning or the sewer or anything like that, those are things that you’re checking out as part of your service, but what you’re doing is you’re creating something useful for another human being. And so the same thing applies within a business, if you wanna have a great business, you gotta have great people, period, and what we’ve said from the start…

DR: This has been my motto for a long time, but we say the companies with the best teams are going to win, that’s just something that we say all the time that… We preach that. The companies with the best teams will win. I don’t care if you have a little bit better technology than me today, I don’t care if you have a little bit of better system than me today, I don’t care if you have more cash than me today, if I build a better team than you, I’m going to beat you, period.

DR: And that’s what we focus on, and really in a big part is, Okay, now that you’ve figured out how to do the thing that you do, and I wanna say something about that because a lot of times I’ve met a lot of people across all industries, across all industries, however, I’ve seen this really bad in the home inspection industry, somebody is like the technical God, they know the code book, they know the rule book, they know within a quarter of a millimeter what is right and what is wrong, but then they assume that they understand what they’re really doing in business, they think that one translates to the other, so you talk to somebody and they won’t even hear what I have to say, literally. Somebody is doing $250,000, $300,000 in revenue. They are working seven days a week, they haven’t gone on a vacation with their family in four years, they don’t really have money in their bank, they’re stressed out, but they won’t even hear what I have to say because they know it all from a technical standpoint. And here’s what I tell people, you haven’t figured out how to do the service that you’re doing until you’ve hit a million dollars in revenue. Now, that rubs people the wrong way sometimes, but we tell people, Once you hit a million dollars in revenue, now you’ve figured out how to do the thing that you do.

DR: Now, once you hit a million, now you’re gonna have to figure out, Okay, how can you scale that? And that is a completely different animal. It’s a different ball game. So I think that’s where when you think about building businesses, when you start thinking in that terms, it changes the way you think, because look, if I’m doing 250 home inspections a year, I could think that I got that game figured out, but that’s not gonna get me anywhere close to a million dollars in revenue. I’m more than likely going to have to go to what? A thousand a year? Help me out with the math here, 2000? 

BO: It depends, right? 

DR: At $500 average price, I’m gonna have to do 2000 home inspections a year, right? So the first thing I’m saying is like, Okay, until you get to 2000 a year, you probably haven’t figured out really how to do home inspections, and again, that’s gonna just make somebody angry when they hear that they may be listening to your show, but that’s okay too. Once you get to that point, now you gotta figure out how to scale it, so when you think in terms… Even if I’m starting a business today and I’ve automatically got this number in my head that says, Oh, Derek said once I get to 2000, I’ve got one thing figured out and then beyond 2000, I gotta figure something else out, It changes how you think, it changes how you approach everything, and from the start, you say, Okay, what do I need to do to be able to get to 2000 home inspections a year? Oh, I’m probably gonna have to hire some people, I’m gonna have to focus on my operations, I’m gonna have to get growth figured out, and because you’re thinking in that way from the start, what that does is it massively accelerates your track of progression versus figuring out… A lot of people go in, the thinking is like, What if I can make $1000 a week? What if I can do this business, I can make $1000 a week? 

DR: And then you make a $1000 and you’re like, Oh, what if I can make… What if I can make $2500 a week? What if I can make $5000 a week? So people are thinking in these baby incremental steps and they’re always having to re-figure things out just to go to the next step versus saying, Can I focus on making a really big step for number one, and then just chunk that step backwards to where now every time I take a step, it’s like, Hey, I’m taking a logical step on the way to a much bigger ball game, and I think that’s something that IEB does really well, is to chunk this down from If you are brand new right now thinking about even getting into the industry, we’ve got training and education all the way to the fastest and largest growing companies in the industry.

BO: So Reuben, can I ask you from a mindset perspective, how would you say you are today versus, let’s say five years ago? 

RS: I don’t think I’ve had a big change in mindset as far as competition. My idea has always been share with other people, lift other people up. There was a home inspector, his name was Mike Moser… Not was, there is. He’s still… He’s still doing home inspection… No. Awesome guy, and he took me under his wing back in the day when I was trying to get licensed through St. Paul Truth-in-Housing evaluations, nobody… My dad didn’t do them, and I needed somebody to teach me, he’s like, Yeah, I’ll teach you, you’ll be a good competitor.

RS: The world needs better competitors, they make us all better, so I’ll teach you how to do these inspections in my backyard, and I just thought it was so cool. This was right when I was getting into it, and I swore then and there that I’m always gonna have the same mindset, if any home inspectors come to me and they wanna learn what I’m doing, I will be happy to teach them, so I’ve kinda grown structure tech with that mindset.

BO: To a degree though, I’ve seen your thinking being alongside you for several years now, you’re thinking on a much grander scale than we used to, and it’s so much fun to have conversations about what could be.

RS: Oh, you’re talking about self-limiting beliefs. I didn’t answer the question you were asking, sorry, Bill. Yeah, you’re right. I mean, I think IEB has helped me change that, maybe not even five years, maybe within the last two years since we started drinking the Kool-Aid, started realizing that I’ve had a lot of self-limiting beliefs. There’s only so much that we can do, there’s only so many home inspectors that we can add on to our team at the same time, all these things where…

RS: I had the idea that this is the most that you can do and then I see somebody else who’s doing five times what I thought the max was and I go, Wait a minute, all I had to do was see somebody else doing it, it’s like… It’s like when somebody has shattered the Four-Minute Mile Record, and all of a sudden just the flood gates opened as soon as people realized, Oh, this could be done, that self-limiting belief was gone, that’s a big mindset shift that I’ve had, no doubt about it, and that’s been more recent. But Dirk, I’m hoping you could touch on this too, something else that you had covered for us was good etiquette about hiring competitors. Let’s say XYZ home inspector comes to me and says, Hey, I wanna work for you guys. Right now, I’m working for Steve down the street, but I’d rather work for you, and I’d love for you to share what you shared with us on what the right protocol should be as a business owner who’s approached with that.

DR: Yeah, and this is… Man, this is so good, this is part of where you really set yourself apart as a competitor and truly going to a next level of being a great competitor, a worthy competitor. People are always looking for good people to hire, so if somebody shows up on your doorstep, and they used to work for your competition, and they already know what to do, it’s so easy to be like, Oh my gosh, this is an immediate way for me to somehow shift business directly from my competitor to me. I can take their market share by taking their people, because let’s say it’s an inspector, that person already has relationships, they already know local agents, they probably already have customers, friends, everything like that, so if they are not with XYZ company and they’re with your company, now that’s a direct shift in competition. Hey, I’m beating my competitor, it’s making my job easier, I just got a bump, they just got a loss, and that’s… People don’t really think about that all the way through because when you are on the receiving end of that, where all of a sudden one of your people goes to your competitor, it’s a blow, it’s hard.

DR: So what we gotta focus on is to say, Look, let’s think more long-term, ’cause the long-term thinking is like, Hey, one of my competitors guys just showed up, or gals, showed up at my business and they’re wanting to come work for me, and really, the higher level of etiquette, the higher level of thinking here, especially long-term and professional is to say, Hey, have you talked to them about leaving? 

DR: Do they know that you are here talking to me right now? And 99.9% of the time the answer is gonna be no. They don’t know that I’m thinking about leaving, they don’t know that I’m here talking to you. And this is where respect starts opening up ’cause it’s just so cool when somebody can say, Hey listen, why don’t you… Obviously, there’s some reason that you’re leaving, you’ve been there for two, three, four, five, six years. Something’s going on, you’re thinking about leaving, why don’t… I just wanna encourage you to go back and talk to your boss. Just tell them that you’re not happy with what’s going on, have an open, honest conversation with them and give them the opportunity to correct whatever is going on, because I would never want you to be working for me, and then all of a sudden just go, show up at my competitor, to go work for them.

DR: That wouldn’t feel very good. So what I wanna do is encourage you to do that and even take it a step further and say, What I’d like to do is, can you just let me know once you’ve reached out to them and have that conversation, ’cause I’m also gonna reach out to them and just let them know that you came and talked to me, just to kinda add some accountability to that, because here’s the thing, if I call you and I say, Hey, Reuben, one of your guys came to me, It looks like there may be an opportunity here, but listen, I just wanted to talk to you about it and just say, Hey, what’s going on over there? Give you a heads up that that conversation happened and just see if you guys can work out what’s going on. When you’re able to do that, that single act will build an immense amount of trust. And when you guys were talking earlier about the incredible level of sharing and feeling welcomed and the collaboration and everything that’s happening in IEB, It happens because of trust. If there wasn’t trust, it wouldn’t happen.

DR: When there’s no trust then people are guarded, they’re trying to stab each other in the back, so what we wanna do is build trust to our competitors and say, Look, it’s okay if we both compete against each other, we can both compete at a really high level, we could both work really high and we can both grow at a really insane level, and that’s what we’ve seen is that the companies that are actually collaborating together at the highest level, you know it’s in the same market, are outgrowing anybody else in that same market, all the ones that are lone wolves that are just so close vested that don’t wanna talk to other people, they don’t want to try to get that support, those are the ones that are getting buried by the companies that are openly sharing, openly learning and openly collaborating.

DR: So when that situation happens, just think about it, if somebody ever comes to you and they say, “Hey, I work for this other competitor, but I heard you guys are hiring, I wanna come work for you,” in that moment sure, you can hire that person really quick and easy, and get them in, or you can say, Hey, I wanna go ahead and just have a conversation with your owner, and I suggest you do the same because it’s so counter-intuitive and in that moment you took the easy thing that was gonna fall in your lap, that was gonna be a blow to your competitor, and you gave them that easy thing in your lap, back to them, and you said, Hey, I’m not gonna capitalize on this opportunity right now, I want you to capitalize on this opportunity to look at, seeing if you can retain this person or whatever the case may be, and if the person then says, Look, we’re totally cool with him talking to you, he’s just not a fit here? Then go ahead and talk to them and say, Hey, let’s go through a process of seeing if you’re a fit in our company, but that act of just giving the ball back to those people and giving them an opportunity to work on that is such a high-minded way of doing business, and that’s how you become…

DR: That’s how you build the reputation of becoming a trusted leader, not just within your own company, but within your community, within the industry, and that’s where bigger, long-term opportunity start becoming unlocked for you. And Reuben I would fully agree, when you answered the question like, Oh, is that… I think that’s where you guys, Structure Tech, you guys are gonna unlock incredible opportunities in the home inspection industry because of the way that you operate, ’cause you guys are truly such high integrity, always willing to share, willing to help, but I really appreciate the way that you approach things, ’cause there have been times like in enterprise conversations where I see something one way, you see it completely differently, and after I think about it, I’m like, man, I really appreciate the way that Reuben sees that and the way that he verbalized that, ’cause it helps shape my perspective as well, but you always do it in such a professional way, in such a serving way, not trying to protect yourself or protect your ideas or anything like that or anything like that, but just really taking the approach of like, Hey, I see it differently than you do, and here’s why I see it the way I do, and then I’ll be like, that’s actually really good.

DR: So when you start being more open to building those kind of conversations, building that level of trust, what you see is gonna come to you like five years, 10 years down the road, is so much more exponential than grabbing that one hire today, that’s another function of looking further down the road versus just like, What’s that next step of where I need to get to in my life or business, and the people that tend to think longer term, they attract other people that think long-term. If you think bigger and think longer term, you’re not going to fit in well with somebody that is short-sighted, you just…

DR: You see the world differently, you’re going to approach things differently, and I think that’s where, again, with an IEB, we are attracting the people in the home inspection industry that are business-minded, that are thinking long-term and that they’re thinking better, and that’s why the conversation is so different.

TM: And if you want more of this, join IEB. [chuckle]

DR: Thank you Tessa.

RS: We weren’t trying to make this a commercial for IEB, but that is kind of how we feel. It just kinda happened.

DR: We’ll take it. [chuckle]

BO: Thank you, Dirk. It’s gold when you’re having this conversation, the perspective that people have about their business changes and it’s almost immediate, and when they look back and they feel or think about where they came from to get to this position, it’s almost like cutting the cord, so to speak, it’s like I can’t go back to that place ever again, because it just wasn’t positive, it wasn’t invigorating and people don’t miss IEB meetings because the conversation is so good. We pick and choose a lot of things in our day, but people show up for the IEB meetings all the time.

RS: Amen brother.

BO: Thank you Dirk. We really appreciate your time. Thank you so much for spending the last 45 minutes of an hour. I know you’re a busy person and we’re just glad to have you, ’cause there’s great energy around this conversation, so thank you very much for spending some time.

DR: Yeah, absolutely, and again, I just wanna say thank you to you guys. All three of you are truly three of my favorite people, you’re amazing human beings, in the way that you do business, the way you serve people, and I just wanna honor of you guys for that because you guys are a big part of raising that tide, in whatever room you’re in, whatever conversation you’re in and within the industry, I know that you guys are doing amazing things, so I just wanna thank you guys, and it was a pleasure to be a part of your podcast today.

BO: Awesome. You can find IEB at iebcoaching.com, you can find BERGflow at BERGflow.com. Check it all out. It’s got great content. You’ve been listening to structure talk, a structure tech presentation. My name is Bill Oelrich, alongside Tessa Murry and Reuben Saltzman, as always we appreciate you listening. We’ll catch you next time.