Daniel Felt, the owner of Kura Home Maintenance, joins the show for the second time. He catches up with Bill, Tessa, and Reuben about the secrets to the thriving success of their business. He shares about providing the various needs of their clients as they are expanding in promising states nationwide. He also highlights the importance of having a customer-focused team and how this culture has helped them increase their clientele.
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.
Daniel Felt: We are currently located in Minneapolis, Denver, Colorado Springs, the four main markets of Texas, and on April 19th we’ll be in Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia, as well.
Tessa Murry: Wow.
Reuben Saltzman: Crazy. It is amazing. And where were you at last time we had you on?
DF: So we started in 2016 on my garage.
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, your three-legged stool up in the Northland talking about all things houses. We are very excited today to have an old friend of ours on the podcast, Daniel Felt from Kura Home Maintenance. We’re gonna dig into Daniel’s now very flourishing business, things taking off like a rocket. It’s somewhere on the other side of Mars right now. So welcome, Daniel. How are things going?
DF: Thank you, Bill. Yeah, it’s great to be here. Life is great. Got a newborn home and business is growing, like you said. And yeah, we’ve got happy customers, so everything is good.
BO: Give us a quick recap of the last 24 months of your life.
RS: And if we could, before we even do that, just for anybody who didn’t hear the first podcast we did with you like a year and a half ago or something, let’s just rewind even more and refresh us on what you do, Daniel.
DF: For sure. So we are a routine Home Maintenance Company. We’ve had three branches. Our first goal is the routine maintenance. We visit our client’s homes once a quarter. We do everything that you’re supposed to be doing if you were the perfect homeowner. But we all know that no one does. Maybe it’s minor changing smoke on batteries or clean your refrigerator coils. We essentially, we do about 28 items for our client’s homes from cleaning AC units, clean dryer vents, changing all the filters, delivering softcore salt, cleaning out those HRVs, ERVs, air changers, whatever you wanna call them. We do everything and we try to go above and beyond when we’re doing it. So just taking care of our client’s homes. Our second branch is air duct cleaning that today is roughly about 50% of our business, mostly because of SEO and the way that we clean air ducts. And our most recent division is Handyman Services. We are currently located in Minneapolis, Denver, Colorado Springs, the four main markets of Texas. And on April 19th we’ll be in Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia as well.
RS: Crazy. It is amazing. And where were you at last time we had you on?
DF: So we started in 2016 on my garage. 2017, still me. Had a part-time guy in 2018. We had two crews then about a third in 2019 and so we came into 2020 with three vans. I had three boys a year ago, so we’ve hired a few people and growing a little bit in the last year or so… Yeah. In 2019, we had two, three crews running trying to service a couple of homes a day and I was doing everything from sales to marketing. We had one office person answering phones with scheduling. Very different today.
BO: Okay, so how did you end up in Texas and Colorado?
DF: Our ultimate goal is to be nationwide by the end of 2024. So a little bit of it is throw a dart. We launched in Denver because of the similarities that it is to Minneapolis, similar layout, similar demographic, is also growing. I’ve heard a number as high as 30,000 new residents a month, so we launched there. It’s also easy to get to not knowing what it would be like to launch at a different location. I know that I could be in Denver by the end of the day if I really had to on a quick flight from Minneapolis. So knowing that, I’ve only had to go there once in the very beginning. So that was that reason. We launched Texas next, because when we are opening a new location, we are doing as a separate entity. So a new payroll account, new QuickBooks account, new bank account. And with Texas, we could open up four markets with one legal entity.
DF: So we launched Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston with just one payroll account. And that was really nice. We launched Dallas at the beginning of March and we just send our third crew there on Monday. We’re currently doing more in Dallas than I was at the beginning of last year in Minneapolis, four years in. So Dallas took off. From that we decide what metro area is the most similar to Dallas and Atlanta is next. And then we have two more after that will be in the next one in May and then the next one in June. And I think we’re gonna try to just collect a little bit of cash in August through November so we can ride out our slightly slower season in the winter.
TM: That’s incredible. [laughter]
DF: Yeah. Thank you.
TM: What a change a year can make.
DF: Yeah, we have been really blessed to have an amazing group of people here that all kind of believe in the same thing. We’re all obsessed with customer service. Kura is Italian. If you spell it a little bit different it means to care for. We just care about our clients. And the people that work here, they care about their day-to-day job. They don’t just come here and seat in a cubicle and do their thing all day. We’re very mission-driven company, and I’ve been so fortunate that people that work here agree with my crazy ideas, and we all work to achieve them.
RS: You were ahead of your time. You hate to think that it was a great thing, a pandemic, or having people move out of their office into their home and suddenly they’re staring at the walls of their house instead of their office. But suddenly your services are deemed much more important.
DF: Yeah, I was really freaked out. I think most of us were when Covid hit. I think it would be unnatural to be super confident at a time like that. But I was very hesitant, nervous about where the company would go. And we were very fortunate essentially mid-April and May hit last year, and we took off, our phones started ringing, they never really stopped. So people doing renovation projects or moving into a new home, they want their earth cleaned after that, the routine maintenance side of our company really took off. We came in the last year about 200, and we acquired 300 more routine maintenance clients that we see every three months, and we plan on bringing on a thousand more in the Minneapolis market this year. Yeah, the more time that people are home, they realize that they want that space to be clean, they want it to be the way they want it, and we’re happy to take care of it for them.
BO: Super cool. Now, Daniel, how are you dealing with training people? Like If you’ve got people working out in Dallas, how are you training them? Are you flying back and forth to do it on yourself? Do you fly them up? How is that all work?
DF: Yeah, so we hire people, put an ad out. We are looking for certain DISC assessment personalities. We use DISC to hire people. We look for a certain personality, save a lot of time that way. You know narrow that down to three, four candidates. We do Zoom interviews and hire the guy. We fly them here and we.
DF: We prefer to do about 10 days of training and then they, unfortunately for Texas, have been driving a van back home that’s fully equipped with all the equipment, and then we will either, depending on where they’re at, we either fly one of our guys there for that third week of training, or they have really grasped that they have… We didn’t have to teach them maybe some of those customer service skills or whatever. But the caliber of individual that we’re hiring, that two weeks of training is really getting you about 90, 95% of the way there. And then just at the rate that we’re growing, we just learn how to take things really quickly, so if they have a question, we have an internal Facebook group, they’ll throw a photo up of a… How do you get this air duct cover off? And no one’s ever seen it before, and within a minute, one of our guys that’s like NACA certified, or whatever it might be were answering that question really fast. So just working together as a team, we’re able to train, but we get ’em up here, come here, get used to our vibe, what kind of culture we have. We’re fast-paced, go like crazy, it’s almost impossible to not pick up on the adrenaline that’s going on here, and then so they get really excited and get jazzed up and then they go back home and they take that with them and they start rock and rolling.
TM: Wow. So Daniel, are they just going out in the field and shadowing for those 10 days there while they’re training?
DF: Mostly. Probably about nine or 10 days is just going out with our sales guy for a day, going out and cleaning air ducts for several days, doing routine maintenance for several days, working in the office for about a day, seeing, how do we answer the phones? Here’s a 60-page manual on, here’s all them questions that we’ve ever been asked, and here’s how we answer ’em. So just getting a really good idea that when you call the office and you’re talking to Joey, here’s what Joey looks like, and here’s what she’s equipped to do for you. ‘Cause I think of it as the office should be equipping the people on the field to be successful.
TM: Oh, I think that’s wonderful, ’cause so many times I feel like in businesses the office is in their little world and the people in the field are in their little world and don’t really have an appreciation for the complexities of their roles and responsibilities.
DF: Yeah. And I’ve noticed that too in a lot of service, and if you’re not aware of that, for sure, Tessa, you’re 100% right. It’s almost like a battle of like the guys in the field they want more time on a job, or they’re drive time schedule to whatever it is, so you have to really make sure that they understand what each other are going with. Our Client Care Coordinators, they do go out and they clean air ducts on a few jobs. They spend a day in the field so they know what it’s like to be out there. What is it like when you’re running behind and you have to hit that next arrival window? They feel that stress a little bit. It makes everyone have a little bit of compassion for the people that they’re working with.
TM: That’s amazing.
BO: So two weeks to get somebody up and running, in your world things are pretty fairly routine, right? Every house has a water heater, and every house has a furnace, and it may or may not have this, or… Does that make it easier?
DF: Yeah. In a sense, they’re similar, but almost they’re not. The routine maintenance side of our company is for sure just on… It’s on autopilot. People post about us, or hear about us, we go out, we give an estimate, they sign up, and we barely have or have any issues. It’s very simplistic. The training, I would say it takes a little bit longer than two weeks, Bill, just when you really push it back. If I’m gonna open a new location today, we need about six weeks from getting just the legal stuff of set up and then posting that job for about a week or two, usually people have to give a two-week notice, and then to get here, train here for 10 days, we can somehow in about six weeks pull that off between everyone involved.
BO: Oh, to open up another location?
BO: Okay. I was more talking about getting somebody from 0-65 on the Interstate in terms of doing that job.
DF: For these regional service managers, I would say about two weeks, but if you are gonna come on as a technician and you’re like, “I am applying to clean air ducts” or, “I am applying to do a routine home maintenance with your company,” you need about four weeks to really… Before I would send you out alone. So there’s different calibers of people that you’re hiring. A regional service manager, they usually have got stuff down in about two weeks, just a technician that we’re hiring hourly, maybe they like mowed lawns last summer, or worked in a restaurant, those take about four weeks to be fully trained in.
BO: Are you getting a wonderful response to your ads?
DF: For hiring?
BO: Employment ads, yeah.
DF: It’s been interesting, ’cause I assumed last summer we would have rocked it out of the park with high unemployment, and unfortunately, just with the incentives that the government has in place for people that are on unemployment, it’s not that great. We don’t have people applying at the door, but we have a full-time HR guy right now who’s hiring people, so that’s really what we needed to keep people coming in the door. But when people are here, we barely ever lose an employee. People get hooked on that adrenaline, growth and then they stay around for a long time.
TM: You know, one thing you said to me, Daniel, that stuck out is that you use the DISC to help you with hiring, and I thought that was really interesting. I mean, I wanted to ask you about that, how you decided on the DISC, because we recently started using something similar to that called the AcuMax to help us with hiring and getting to know candidates too. So is that something that your HR manager brought to the team, or was that your idea, or…
DF: We do work with a coach, and they really encouraged us to use that. And so when you’ve hired one, or two, or three people and they’re the wrong person in the wrong seat, that’s when you really realize like, “There’s gotta be a better way to do this.” And you look at some of the larger companies that really focus on any sort of personality test, and you’re like, “There must be something behind this,” So that’s really why we jumped on that train.
TM: And can I ask what the average profile is that you’re looking for? [chuckle]
DF: I really like DCs for some reason, so yeah.
TM: Okay. Can you explain to people that are listening that may not know what that is?
DF: Yeah, so I would have to really dive into it. I’m not super educated, so I’m not the best, but someone who you get energy from people, but also you like systems and processes is kind of to summarize what we’re looking for in a person. And sometimes people don’t even realize what type of person they are. If you even asked them those type of questions they wouldn’t even know how to answer them. So that’s what we’re looking for.
TM: Well, it’s interesting, ’cause you said it’s someone who gets energized by people, so I would guess that means someone who’s a little bit more outgoing, and extroverted. Is that correct?
DF: Yeah, for sure.
TM: And these are “technicians” that you’re hiring to do these tasks of changing furnace filters, cleaning air ducts, all of that, and you’re hiring people persons to do it, not your stereotypical tradesperson, who might be a little bit more introverted, technical?
DF: Right, the guys that are most like extroverted people. And this is brutal that we do this, it’s kind of cutthroat, but we have on our board in the warehouse, our guys are split up into teams and it’s a competition. So reviews, if you upsell something that a customer needs, or if you get a bad review or a callback, it’s all posted on that whiteboard. So we’ve created a culture, it’s kind of like a chicken coop, where if there’s one person that’s doing bad they get picked on by the others, because why did you get a bad review? And that’s helped us. Why wasn’t that person’s furnace working after we cleaned their air ducts? And now every technician in the company knows that Joe had a callback on a furnace that didn’t turn on. And I tell you what, all of a sudden callbacks stop happening when that is public information for everyone to see. So one of the coolest things on there is seeing who’s getting five star reviews. And if I told you the personalities of the guys who once were the most extroverted, they always have the most reviews.
RS: That’s fantastic. I love it.
DF: Yeah, one of my guys, he said it best. And we were talking about it, and I called him out in one of our team meetings, I’m like, “Zack, why do you have so many reviews and why are your tips so high,” ’cause we track tips on that as well? And he goes, “When people wanna talk to me, I talk to them. When people don’t wanna talk to me, I don’t talk to them.” It’s like, oh, okay. And it seems simple, but some people, they just don’t quite get that social interaction side.
TM: Do you know what? Emotional intelligence, it goes a long way in this industry. It’s what it comes down to, you gotta read your clients.
RS: Yeah. It’s huge.
DF: Yes. Yes.
BO: So your team didn’t have any problem with the transparency, both positive and negative, if you wanna put it in that terms, or praise and complaints?
DF: You know what? It’s really interesting, if you have an issue with it, Bill, you’re probably not gonna work here very long, ’cause you just don’t fit in with our culture. We’re very competitive, we’re growing really fast, and we really care about our customers. It’s not about the money here, it’s about doing something really cool, growing fast, taking care of clients and their homes. We barely ever get a bad review, but when they do, usually there’s a reason behind it, but if we get a bad review, we write that on the board at our team meeting, and we break down every single sentence. How can we prevent this in the future? Why did it happen? What system do we have to change internally so that a review like this never happens again.
RS: I like that. I like that a lot, just simply because I’m guessing when that furnace doesn’t turn on after the duct cleaning, it’s not anything complicated. It’s just that you didn’t double-check that it actually turned on.
TM: And everybody is learning from everybody else’s mistakes.
DF: For sure.
RS: Yeah, that’s important.
RS: So what are you doing to get new business in these new markets?
DF: We spent obnoxious amount of money on Facebook and Google in the beginning, but what’s worked really well for us is social media, people posting about us and it becomes a trend. So I think it’s close to 75 social media influencers across the nation that are posting about us on a regular basis, and so then now, let’s say, for me, I think I have… I check Instagram once a week or something. I have 500 followers, but if someone who I think is really cool posted about Kura Home, and that Kura Home comes to my house and they post about it. And so you create this train of people being like, “Oh my gosh, look at how dirty my refrigerator coils were. I’m so glad Kura Home today.” And so people are just posting about us. It’s almost like a pride thing of like, my bathroom fan was dirtier than yours, but now look how clean it is. So it’s really interesting to watch that trend of… We’ve gotten to a point with this routine maintenance where I don’t think we could stop it. The phones would continue to ring with people wanting routine maintenance because people post about it so often of just… It’s a weird pride thing, like Kura Home is here today, and they did this and look at the photo they showed me.
BO: ‘Cause you’re the pride of the neighborhood. You’re actually taking care of your house the way it should be. I’ve always envisioned this as neighbors sort of sit around and talk, and they see a van in front of the house and like, “I wonder why they’re there.” And it’s yours, and the owner is like, “Oh yeah, we’re just taking care of things that we need to,” versus the other person who hasn’t done any maintenance over 10 years and it’s… The furnace has failed prematurely, or there is a horrible water leak just because somebody was completely clueless that that one little thing had been dripping for seven years.
RS: Yeah. Daniel, what would you say are maybe like the top 10, 15 services that you do for your regular home maintenance that people like to sign up for?
DF: I kinda need to go through just like the rooms. From the kitchen, cleaning or sharpening that garbage disposal, the dishwasher filter is something that most people don’t know about, and then cleaning the refrigerator coils is another big one. In the bathroom and laundry areas, no one, almost no one knows that their washing machine has a filter, a lot of the new models do, and then cleaning the dryer vent. I don’t know if we have a single client that doesn’t have us do that on an annual basis, really. People know that’s super important. And then in the utility room, almost everyone wants every single thing done for that, so softener salt, we get a semi-load of 18 pallets of softener salt delivered to our office, one every four to six weeks, and changing the filters, the humidifier, cleaning out that air exchanger is really important, too, changing out the water paddle on the humidifier. So basically everything in the utility room were taken care of, and then cleaning the AC unit. So the dryer vent, if you’re gonna ask me, what’s one thing that, for sure everyone has me do, I don’t know, a single routine maintenance client that hasn’t asked us to clean their dryer vent on an annual basis.
TM: Daniel, did you have different maintenance requests when you went into markets like in the deep south and stuff compared to Minnesota?
DF: Yeah. Learning about that some regions have softener salt, some don’t, swamp coolers, all this stuff. One thing that I’ve learned to do is spend about an hour on realtor.com, a new market, and I just look through houses. I think what similar to you, when you guys look at a house, what you see. I see a little bit different than the typical homeowner. And so we’re just looking at that from a maintenance side. I’ve actually connected with Reuben to ask, “Hey, can I talk to a home inspector. Do you know someone in this region?” And I’ll call them and say, “Here’s what we do, here’s my list. If you were gonna do this, what would you do differently?” And when you ask for help, people are pretty open to giving you some help, so yeah.
TM: Wow, that’s awesome.
DF: Like Colorado, barely, I don’t think anyone, maybe one person there that we ran into needs softener salt. It’s not a thing there. So houses, especially in Texas, they don’t have basements. The furnace is in the attic. You have to learn. There’s different stuff, but they all kind of work similarly. It’s just laid out differently or different items are needed, things like that.
BO: Reuben, do you know a few home inspection companies around the country, just out of curiosity?
RS: Well, maybe one or two.
RS: Yeah, as we’re talking here, I’m thinking about these locations and I’m like, “Oh, Daniel, I’ve got so many more people I need to introduce you to.”
RS: You need to have a good partnership ’cause we have a good partnership between the two of us. We regularly tell our clients about your services, ’cause there’s so much that you can do that we’re trying to tell our clients about. And it’s like…
DF: For sure.
RS: “Kura does this, Kura does that.” It’s everything. And it goes back the other way then when clients are asking you, your technicians, “Hey, what about this stain, and what do you think is causing it? What can I do to fix it?” And it’s like they’re not home inspectors, but then you send us business for regular inspections, home maintenance inspections, and those are just kind of stripped-down inspections where we’re telling people about all the stuff that’s the most important to take care of that’s more high level than what your technicians are doing. So there’s very good synergy between what we do.
DF: For sure.
DF: Yeah, we’re not interested in inspecting homes, we wanna come in, do that routine maintenance side of things, our guys are asked questions. Our referral list for our technicians is so long of these people that we trust, and a lot of times when we’re referring you guys out, it’s like someone has some sort of moisture issue and they can’t figure it out. Of course, attics, it seems like every few years, the humidity gets up in the attic. It’s crazy, but it usually comes down to a moisture issue of… And it’s just as simple as homeowners not knowing what they don’t know. And our technicians… We see four or five water heaters a day, or whatever, but again, we’re not… We can’t diagnose those issues the way that you guys can because you guys really are the experts for the whole entire home.
TM: It’ll be interesting to see what you run into, like, in Texas and Georgia; like, what the common problems are that homeowners just don’t know.
DF: In Texas for sure, currently right now it’s not knowing about filters; like, they don’t know that there’s a filter behind an air duct, or they don’t have any air duct. There’s just… There’s nothing, and so we’re having to… Like, in Minnesota a return line can be 12, 18 inches. Well those guys are having to, like, take brooms into some of these returns because they’re, like, 4 X 4 feet. There was never a filter on it, and so the guys are literally, like… They’ll send a picture in a return line that looks like they’re in the US Bank Stadium and they’re in there cleaning stuff off, and I’m like, “We did not sign up for that”, but you got there, you got to take care of the customer; you want to make sure that the entire system is clean. So our internal Facebook page with pictures that go on there of these experiences are very interesting.
TM: Oh my gosh. You gotta charge extra for those air ducts that are inside of vehicles. [chuckle]
BO: Can we just kind of paint a picture… I think I understand what you’re talking about, Daniel, but you have a furnace in the attic; then you have just one gigantic return somewhere in the middle of the building, and you blow the air out to the exterior walls and then it gets sucked back into the middle of the house. Is that a correct explanation?
DF: Yup; for sure. And then on top of that, a lot of people don’t have carpets in their homes in Texas; a carpet is a huge filter for your home, so now you don’t have a carpet plus… Or enough rugs… Plus you don’t have a filter at your return. There’s no filter in your entire home, and so people are like, “Yeah, we don’t know why it’s so dusty”, and I do, so…
DF: Yeah, so it’s just, again, explaining that to the customer, “Hey, we’re here to clean your air ducts, but you need a filter here,” and then on top of that, “We can take care of that filter for you too, if you want us to”, so…
TM: Oh my gosh.
BO: Sure. I’d love to ask about the handyman business, because I can’t imagine adding that component to your business model didn’t just absolutely blow it up, because everybody needs work done, and [chuckle] I just imagine your phone’s ringing every day all day long asking for somebody to come and fix this.
DF: So Bill, we launched our handyman service in Minneapolis mid-January, and we sent out one newsletter, and by the end of the day we were booked out two weeks.
TM: January of 2020? Or…
TM: So a few months ago.
DF: Yes. So today we’re running three crews of handyman here in Minneapolis, and we had to take one of our client care coordinators… Which I stole that title from you guys… And one of our client care coordinators is just full-time handyman. If you call us and you press… I think it’s Number Three for handyman services… It’s crazy how the people need all kinds of stuff. The wind… It was really windy in Minneapolis on Sunday and Monday, a piece of siding flies off. Well, it’s not an insurance claim. These large exterior companies, they don’t want to come and do a $200 siding job, and so in my opinion… And maybe this is wrong… But there’s these low hanging fruit of large contractors don’t have the resources or the time; they don’t want to spend time estimating these jobs or whatever, and so we’re just… Just because of our contacts that we have from being a business, just by telling people, we haven’t put a single dollar into handyman services yet, and I assume that we’ll have eight or nine crews for the handyman running by the end of the year if things continue.
DF: The biggest thing that I think needs to happen is; A, answer your phone and your emails when they come in for handyman stuff, which a lot of people can’t do because they get so busy so fast; and then just do what you say you’re gonna do when you show up on that job; price it out and do the work that you said. And these guys are… There’s are a lot of handyman out there that they want to do handyman work but they don’t want to run a business. We can run the business side of it; we’ll give you the jobs and you show up and do a really good job and take care of that customer.
BO: Hey Daniel, have you incorporated any sort of virtual estimating into the handyman service? So you have somebody sitting at a computer, and the client can jump on a Zoom link and take their camera to the side of the house where… I don’t know, is this a piece of siding, or is this a window? What am I looking at here? Are you doing anything like that to try to speed up the process of getting these jobs put together?
DF: You’re always ahead of me, Bill. We have not.
DF: That’s a really good idea. We at this time, if it’s a simple job, we’re to kind of weed out what’s going on. So is this, like a two-hour job? Because then we can come out for a couple hundred bucks and do it for you. Is this a two or a three-day job? Because then we should come out and give a bid. What are you thinking from a customer standpoint? And then they’ll say, “Well, I want this, this, this done.” “Okay; we gotta come out and give an estimate. Otherwise, could you just send us a picture of the siding that’s popped off and how high it is?”, and they have a piece of siding usually, and so we can show up with the right size ladder, the right person to get it done, and get that done for them. So we’re doing pictures right now, but Zoom might be even a faster way, ’cause we already are having to hire a project manager for handyman stuff… A guy who will just go out and deal with the estimates, get the right bid for them, and then make sure the team is equipped to do the work when they show up.
BO: Just so I get a better idea of the scope of what your doing, what’s the smallest project you can recall, and the biggest project?
DF: We’ll come out and hang a picture for you; I think that’s as small as it gets. We’ll put a nail in and hang a picture, but even that… Those jobs can turn into, like, huge jobs because you’re in a house, you need to go and get scaffolding, and it’s a 120 pound barrel wheel or something crazy, and it’s a two-man job scaffolding. You need hard hats almost to do the stuff.
DF: So that’s the smallest jobs. We’re not a contractor, we’re not a general contractor, so we’re not moving electrical, we’re not moving plumbing. We’ve had people just ask us to do, like, a facelift on a bathroom; we can do that, and that’s, like a week-long project. We’re not a general contractor, we’re not moving walls; we’re, like, the facelift of handyman companies; is really, like, anything that’s improving the visual or the quality of your home, or doing a small repair. If your entire house needed siding, that’s not us; that’s not our bread and butter. We have a one-hour minimum, and it’s $129, and from there you can… However much work you want, we’ll book it out for ya.
BO: And bring your wagon wheel.
BO: And put it up on… Put it up on some vaulted wall near the top.
DF: Our average home is 7,800, $900,000, but you end up in the $12 million homes, and people that live in $12 million houses buy nice stuff, and sometimes nice stuff weighs a lot, or it’s difficult to get it in position, so we kind of do whatever. We’ve assembled Murphy beds for people; every little odd-end thing that you could imagine that people just don’t have the time for. But also a lot of people today they… Like, people my age, they grew up in a daycare; they didn’t grow up in a home, like, tinkering with their dad in the garage. And so these skills are slowly being weeded out of generations, and if you’re willing to work and you can train guys in… So, we’re already… We have a handyman out there, and he’s already training in an apprentice immediately. So we try to run… In Minnesota, we try to run 1.5 guys per group, so that someone’s always being trained in… So we get out of band almost instantly if we need to…
TM: And are your handyman… Do a lot of them… Did they come from their own business and then they joined you, or are you taking them and training them?
DF: We’re really fortunate Tessa ’cause a lot of people hear about our culture or what we’re doing here, and they’re like, “I want that instead”, and so they’re coming to a place where we respect the life-family balance, and we don’t expect you to die every day at work, or work till 7-8 PM We’re like an eight to five company and come to work, do your job. We’re not… Our guys are not on a construction job until seven, eight o’clock at night, they’re back here our office is a ghost town at 5 PM, everyone’s gone, so… We work hard, play hard. So yeah, they’re guys who have either done their own thing and then they ran out of work, and I think what’s happened to a lot of people is the word of mouth is abated off, and if you haven’t taken advantage of social media and the internet in some way, or another, you… Suddenly your customer bases vanish and they don’t… And people don’t know why.
TM: Are you having the same DISC behavioral profiles for the handyman.
DF: We’re a little more flexible on the handyman thing ’cause it’s a rare breed. We look more at the skills on the outside and then I can train you on the customer service stuff to be… But again, you’ve got… And they’re like, Wow, we really care about the way we treat our clients here, and then… You wanna fit in with everyone else.
BO: How about the smart home technology, are you guys working on programming things and working on any of those sorts of components?
DF: On a very basic level, like putting in smart, smart thermostat or doorbell… Ring door bells, things like that, we’ve installed a few of those. Initially, I was like, “Oh, we should get certified with Ring”. They have certified installers. We didn’t have time, we send out that newsletter and it was like, boom, work, and so I’m like, We don’t even have time to try and generate more work, we’re just… Just working instantly. So we can do that stuff. It’s pretty basic. I don’t know if you’ve ever done it Bill. I did my own in about 10 minutes. If it’s basic, like I have a battery powered thermostat, I want a smart one here. You bet we can do that for you.
BO: Yeah, my threshold for figuring those sorts of things out is pretty low, if you gave me fishing electronics, I’ll dive in and learn all about them, but doorbell… No, thank you, I am moving on.
TM: I installed my own eco-B and I won’t say it took me more than 10 minutes.
DF: I have attempted to make my house a smart house, but we have a smart thermostat, a smart doorbell and two smart smoke alarms. I feel like that’s… That’s kind of how smart I want my house to be a…
DF: I don’t know if it can be smarter. One thing that’s an intrigue to me you call it, but I think you install it at the breaker box and it tells you what parts of your homes are using more energy… That would be cool, but again kinda ready for it to be done.
BO: My smart doorbell, I should say, is a 10-month-old Boss interior that just loses his mind any time somebody pounds on the door, and the thermostat is basically under lock and key because it would be 85 degrees in my house if I allowed the rest of the inhabitants to have control of it.
RS: I think we talked about this, you gotta just install a dummy thermostat, just mount it on the wall with an old school dial and not connect the wires to anything, and put it in a really conspicuous location so the people in the family can feel like they have some control over it and then let them turn the dial. It doesn’t do anything. Its what you gotta do.
BO: So Daniel, I have one more question about your moving out into other markets, are you van-based? , in other words, are you mobile-based? , you send a van down there and is that the office?
DF: Yep, so one way that we’re controlling quality is the phones, they all ring in Plymouth, in our office here in Plymouth, Minnesota, and so we’re dispatching it out to them. So in the very beginning, Yeah, these guys are in the same way like an HVAC or a plumber, or how you see their utility vehicles at their homes, that’s what we’re doing. In these warmer markets, that works great, but we are weighing our options on what it looks like in a cold market where your air compressors and fluids can freeze overnight. Do you have a heater inside the van, how do you work that out? ’cause retail commercial space is just so expensive, but also how do you duplicate that culture, like in Dallas, we now have three crews. I’m assuming we’ll have six or seven by the end of year.
DF: In my opinion, they should have a hub to come and try to be a team in the morning, in the afternoon when they’re done, so just figuring out that out space and how do you do it cost efficiently without losing money. So right now It’s, yep these guys… We could have one anywhere in the US and all the phones they all ring in our office here in… That’s really helped us to control quality. If there’s a major issue I hear about it very, very quickly. So you don’t get a bad review, you’re not hearing about things like a week or two after it has happened, you know instantly if a technician is late to a job, you know about it right away.
TM: How many client care coordinators do have?
DF: We have four full-time in the office, but then two guys that kind of staff in and out, ’cause our goal is to respond to a lead within five minutes, so we dip in and out of that, so there’s four full-time and we’re planning on having 24 by this time next year, so we’re basically hiring someone, Client Care Coordinator every two to three weeks…
RS: Good for you, man.
DF: Yeah, thank you. It’s a very scary, fun experience. But we’ve never missed a payroll. That’s my promise. I promise I will never miss payroll, you will always get paid on Friday. I’ll do whatever it takes.
BO: I can’t tell you how happy I am for you because I’ve known you for several years and I’ve seen your passion for doing what you do, and this growth couldn’t happen to a better person. Yeah.
DF: Thank you.
BO: Yeah, you’re welcome.
DF: Appreciate that.
BO: So tell everybody how they can find you, because now that you’re all over the place that… Let’s get as many people calling you as possible today…
DF: Yeah, so our website is kurahome.com. That’s spelt K-U-R-A kurahome.com. We are everywhere on social media, we even have a TikTok account, now that people in Texas do schedule off a TikTok…
DF: So that… Yes, that’s very interesting, but we do a lot of stuff on our social media, if you just wanna keep up with different ways to maintain your home or some of the interesting pictures finding us on Instagram or Facebook, is really great too. But our website is kurahome.com that gives a big detailed information about what we’re doing here.
BO: Alright, so I’m gonna let you brag on one more thing, so we all know that you’ve recently become a dad, so what can you tell us about? Growing a business and growing a son.
DF: So Weston he’s gonna be nine months here in a few days, and it has to be one of the coolest experiences I have. I come from a big family of six kids, so I always wanted to be a dad, and some people think like, how do you balance all this? But my granola always been since day one, that I am gonna have dinner with my family, and that’s how my entire team is too, so I’m out of the office, I’m home for dinner every single night, hanging out with him and giving him a bath before bed or whatever part of being a dad, you gotta do… It’s been very, very enjoyable. So I think we’re also very lucky ’cause he may be the happiest little human in the world, so that’s a little cherry on top as well.
RS: It’s awesome.
DF: Yeah. Well, he can’t talk back yet and he’s actually not even crawling yet, so you just set him in a spot and then with a toy or lifting a blanket up and down, he’s the happiest person, so I feel like once he can talk and walk, he’s probably gonna think I’m a loser and the drain will begin. But I’m up to that.
BO: That’s awesome. That’s awesome.
TM: Sounds easier than Bill’s dog, right?
BO: Anything’s easier than Bambino.
DF: You have to exercise the dog and… Yeah.
BO: Listen, I was away for a few days, I came home and he was ready to go so… I remember the good old days of babies. They’re much easier to carry around inside your wife or your partner. Then once they come out, they’re a lot of work. Then they start growing and they’re in hockey or skating or dance or whatever, and then they’re a whole heck of a lot of work. Reuben can attest to that right now. His weekends are what? Hockey rink?
RS: Well, we just finished the hockey season. I was helping to coach my daughter’s hockey team all winter, and that was… It’s a lot of work. It was a lot of time. But boy, it was a lot of fun too. Oh, my goodness.
BO: Well, that’s the thing. And you’ll know this, Daniel, ’cause you’ll probably get these anyway. But once you’re a parent, you’ll start getting these history things popping up on your phone like, “Oh, this day five years ago.” And it’ll be some of that, where you’re with your kid, and it’s hard. You’re like, “Oh my god, it’s gone by so fast. And they’re driving now. Now I have a whole new set of worries.”
DF: Well, one thing that I know, I know… His kids aren’t to this stage yet, but one thing that I’ve learned from my parents is that they’ve expressed that having kids is really enjoyable. But grandkids, that’s where it’s really at. So that’s something to look forward to. If you’re going through a rough patch, know that there will be another fun stage coming along soon enough.
TM: You’re not fully responsible for the well-being of the child. [laughter]
DF: Yeah, exactly.
BO: In my mom’s case, she just feeds them a lot of sugar and then hands them back over and you have to deal with the tantrums that go from there.
RS: The fall out. Yeah.
BO: Well, we should probably put a bow on this one, but Daniel, thank you very much for spending some time with us today. It’s just such a pleasure to hear about the growth and your new family. I’m excited for you and your wife, and this just keeps rolling so, thank you. You’re a good person. Anybody who calls Kura you’re gonna find that they will treat you just like family. But again thanks Daniel for spending some time with us here today on Structure Talk. You’ve been listening to Structure Talk, a structure tech presentation. My name is Bill Oelrich alongside Tessa Murry and Reuben Saltzman. As always thank you for listening. We will catch you next time.