Allison Howell Hi, I’m Allison Howell, and you’re listening to The Trunk Show, where I talked to event rental professionals about the industry, leading businesses, and all the rental adventures they’ve had along the way. The show is brought to you by RW Elephant Mighty Inventory Management Software, designed to help you conquer the chaos in your event rental business and reclaim your creativity. Because the world needs more of the beautiful events and environments you create.
Allison Howell This special episode is a live recording from 2020’s Lend & Gather conference, where I sat down with Aaron Steed to discuss his moving company that’s really built just as much for his employees as for his customers. You’ll get to hear more about Lend & Gather in this episode, plus Aaron knows how to load and unload a truck better than anyone I know. Enjoy!
Aaron Steed My name is Aaron Steed, I’m the co-founder of Meathead Movers & Mini Storage. We’re a student athlete moving company with five offices in Central and Southern California and we have three storage facilities. And we’re the ultimate job for the student athlete working their way through school.
Allison Howell The ultimate job, that’s cool. How did you get started?
Aaron Steed Got started because our parents didn’t give us any money. So yeah, I was wrestling my brother was playing football, so we need to figure out a way to make money while going to school and playing sports. And being athletic, a lot of our friends parents would ask us to help them and we would do it. And the deal was they’d rent the truck. We provide the labor and they’d pay us whatever they thought we were worth. And then after a couple of dozen jobs, we kept hearing about how this is the best moving experience they ever had and that how comfortable they felt with us. And I enjoyed the workout and being all set my own hours, and it seemed like there was a really big problem of having quality moving services with people you can trust.
Allison Howell So what happened next? How did you turn it from like a side gig to a full fledged business?
Aaron Steed Yeah, well we’ve been doing for 23 years, so there’s been a lot of peaks and valleys, and if it weren’t for being able to get through those hard times, we wouldn’t be where we’re at today, 23 years ago.
Allison Howell Can you tell us about one of those times when you felt like you were sort of on the edge there? Like, when did you come to the edge and what did you do?
Aaron Steed Yeah. So one year our workers comp rates went up five times.
Allison Howell Oof.
Aaron Steed Yeah. And this has been we were a much smaller business. I remember we had $75,000 in the bank. We had a $40,000 payroll coming up in three days and we had to come up with just under $100,000 in an additional week or so in order to make our premium for our workers comp insurance policy.
Allison Howell Wow.
Aaron Steed [00:02:43] And if we didn’t have worker’s comp, then we couldn’t operate. And not having a line of credit, no safety net whatsoever. And thank God, we didn’t have any dependents at the time, no mortgage. We had to lay off eight of our 13 administrative employees, go down the list of every single vendor that we had, renegotiate terms and let them know, Hey, if you stick with me, I’ll stick with you, but you’ll get paid, but it’s going to be a while. We were so poor we had to cancel our freshwater subscription to the office.
Allison Howell Wow.
Aaron Steed I mean, it was difficult, but we got through it and thank goodness we did because we harness a lot of those experiences and completely changed how we run our business. And now we’re the safest moving company for moving companies of our size, which is then led us to not have workplace injuries and eventually become self-insured like we are now, which has given us a huge competitive advantage in the market because our cost structure is so much less than typical moving companies.
Aaron Steed So sometimes the greatest challenges can turn into the greatest blessings if you harness it right. We came really, really close to losing our business to what seemed like insurmountable cash flow issues for one reason or another. But luckily, there’s a lot of purpose behind what we do. There’s a lot of meaning as to why we do what we do. And I feel like we’ve been able to harness that grit and get through the hard times.
Allison Howell So tell me what is important to you. Are those core values or those like innate things in use that something you and your brother sat down and wrote down? Or is it something that you just say to yourselves over and over as a mantra?
Aaron Steed Yeah. And I’ll be specific. Number one, providing the ultimate job for the student athlete working their way through school in pursuit of their own American dream. I remember what it’s like not feeling invested in, struggling to make ends meet. So this job is the perfect job for that because we work around school athletic schedules, our employees get paid to work out, and we have a program that leaves them better than where they come in.
Aaron Steed Number two, it sounds corny, but I really do feel like when someone hires Meathead Movers, we are saving the day from having our clients experience a moving horror story. And with us, our clients are guaranteed a collegiate, clean cut, drug free, student athlete moving experience. So it’s a totally different level of experience our clients get than when hiring a typical moving company.
Aaron Steed And then lastly, we have found a really, really meaningful way to give back to the communities that we serve by reacting to a problem which was, periodically, we’d get calls when we first started of, primarily women, looking to flee their abusive relationships. And I remember talking to them on the phones, telling me stories of, Hey, my abuser’s going to be coming home. He’s on a business trip. This is my opportunity to get my kids out. Will you help? I don’t have money, but I can pay you in lieu of, you know, a TV or entertainment center. And we’d say, No, it’s OK, we’ll just go ahead and do it for free.
Allison Howell Yeah.
Aaron Steed And then we kept doing those moves and doing those moves for free until we found ourselves in a situation where the guy came home and it got contentious. I remember he accused us of stealing, and the cops ended up getting called, and luckily we were able to make it out of that situation and everyone was safe. But we realized there’s a lot of domestic violence in the communities that we serve. Being a professional mover, we’re in a very unique position to be able to help people in that pivotal time. And we decided from that moment we’re going to partner with our local domestic violence shelter, tell them we’re willing to offer unlimited free moving services to help victims of domestic violence get out of their homes for free. And now, 23 years later, we offer that to nine different shelters throughout Central and Southern California and do hundreds of these moves every single year. And we’re really proud of it and feels really good.
Allison Howell Yeah. Well, and I imagine your employees feel like they’re not just working for a typical moving company, they’re really invested in a cause.
Aaron Steed Yeah. And you bring up a good point where a lot of times it’s just the business owner writing checks, feeling the good feelings of giving back. But when you figure out a way to incorporate your business into giving back, then you’re involving everybody like our movers are actually picking up the items and getting them into a safe situation. The salespeople are coordinating, knowing that they’re making a difference and that they are helping quarterback this transition.
Allison Howell Yeah, but it seems like you’re also bringing awareness to the issue, which seems important because, I mean correct me if I’m wrong, but seems like you’ve built a mentorship program that just happens to be a moving company. Is is that a good characterization?
Aaron Steed Yeah. Well, I think a lot of people in the audience can relate to the fact that it’s hard to create value for your employees in order to keep them enthusiastic and wanting to continue to work for doing entry level work. And when we first started the business, we had no problem attracting or retaining people because it was really cool. Everyone was my own age. And now, you know, I’m in a different stage in life than most of my employees. And our job is compared to other jobs in the industry.
Allison Howell Right.
Aaron Steed And then I started thinking, you know, why do people donate their summers to go work at internships? It’s because they believe that they’re going to gain the experiences that are going to make them more marketable, that they’re going to be more resourceful going into the job place and they’re ultimately going to be more successful.
Aaron Steed Now, a lot of people don’t realize this looking from the outside into the moving industry, but our employees get an incredible — and the drivers and delivery workers in this audience have an incredible opportunity to one drive commercial vehicles to be able to problem solve in high stress situations, to explain and execute legal contracts to become mentally and physically stronger. And a lot of the drivers become managers who are then managing other people. And if you have management experience that can set a different trajectory for your employment, moving on in life, so knowing and understanding the value proposition we provide to our employees. And how they can harness that if we can help them connect the dots of their future goal, it snapped. We need to tell our story better to our employees. And we need to help them dream and visualize what their future looks like.
Aaron Steed So for example, if we have someone who wants to work for us, we ask every single person, What’s your goal five to ten years out? And let’s say it’s to become a firefighter. We’ll say, great, you’re going to love this job because you’re going to get commercial driving experience. You can become mentally and physically stronger and you’re going to problem solve in high stress situations. So if they’re looking to become a firefighter or if they’re looking to become an architect or an attorney or something of that nature, we will call the hiring manager and try to help them get their job.
Aaron Steed It’s called employee encouraged turnover, and if anyone in the audience wants to, Google “encouraged turnover Meathead Movers”. You’ll see some articles published on it because I believe that’s really been one of the X factors that has helped our company grow to over 750 people. In addition, we explain and show them how to document their job experiences on a resume. So if you say I worked at Meathead Movers and say they’re in they’re — and they move away and they go to try to get a job and they have moving experience working and Meathead Movers. The hiring manager is going to say, Who cares? You worked at a moving company, so what?
Allison Howell Right. You moved boxes.
Aaron Steed But if you can say I worked at Meathead Movers, the largest independent moving company in California. I was promoted five different times within two years. I managed 80 different people and moved one hundred and fifty people. And my success rate was, say, 97 percent. We’ll print out their customer service report cards for them. We have that capacity to show what kind of service. The average job that we do, we transport $20,000 worth of goods at 20 thousand times one hundred and fifty. Is that three million? I think it’s three million. But if you say I was responsible for transporting $3 million worth of items, all of a sudden you’re viewing that person a little bit different, right?
Allison Howell Right. If they can quantify it. And you’re really teaching them how to quantify that.
Aaron Steed Yes. So we literally have training programs on how to quantify their experiences working at Meathead Movers, and that’s very similar for the people in this room.
Allison Howell Yeah, it’s interesting because I think a problem people in the event rental industry face a lot is the turnover or the prospect of turnover for their delivery crews. And it’s kind of scary especially, you know, if they have seasonal needs, it seems like you’ve taken that problem and turned it into a benefit in your business. So instead of saying this is something we’re going to face, it’s like, Oh, look, this is something that we can really leverage.
Aaron Steed Yeah, harness the adversity, you know?
Allison Howell Yeah. So what do you hope for the future of your employees? You’ve talked about sort of sending them off and shepherding them on to their next job. What’s the strategy there?
Aaron Steed I believe the owner’s job is to provide clarity, strategy, and accountability for the team. So in light of providing clarity for your team, there’s two paths you can go on when working at Meathead Movers. Number one, your own successful career goal path. We get clear five, ten years out. What do you want to be? And every six months, we revisit that so we know how to interact and how to work with you.
Aaron Steed Or two, do you want to help us open up another office? And there are two paths typically either as the sales route or the operations right, and we’re proud to promote from within. So we get clear with them, where do they want to go? And it’s an ongoing conversation. And not only do we help them get that job, but we also have a barbecue celebrating when they get that job. And then when someone goes on to become successful, they have the opportunity to earn a spot into our Hall of Fame, which gets a new inductee every year, and that we make a big deal of and is also on our website. We’re trying to become like an institution is the ultimate stepping stone job for the student athlete.
Allison Howell Well, and I mean, I was going to ask, how do you find people? But it seems like with all those things, they find you.
Aaron Steed That’s another beautiful thing about intrinsically trying to create value for your employees. If they feel it, if they know it, they’re going to spread it and share it.
Allison Howell I am so impressed that you have people who live what you believe. I think that’s so rare, or so difficult I think, as a small business owner to get people to buy in. You know, I think we can talk all day long about our own core values or what we truly believe or what our aspirations are. But I mean, do you think it’s just repetition? Do you think it’s consistency on your part? Do you think that it’s because you’ve been doing this twenty three years? Help us understand the secret sauce.
Aaron Steed Thank you for that question. It’s humbling, but I think early on my brother and I wanted to design Meathead Movers to be in every major college town across America, so therefore we structured it as if it was a franchise. Even though we’re not a franchise, so systems are important to us, it’s important to have someone who’s good at building systems, good at building processes. There’s a book, if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It’s called The E-Myth by Michael Gerber, and I’ll summarize it in one sentence: Work on your business, not in your business. And if you’re willing to take one day a week to work on your systems and processes and put templates in place and standard operational procedures and to create that level of consistency.
Allison Howell Right. Interesting. So you’ve talked about your hiring and training process and you’ve talked about that sort of hand off. I’m sorry. Tell me again what you called it. Encouraged…
Aaron Steed Turnover.
Allison Howell Encourage turnover. Wow. It’s a very different perspective to looking at your organization. Did that always happen or was there a shift?
Aaron Steed No, this has been a work in progress and I would say pain is what has inspired most of this. Pain from breaking things. Pain from miscommunications. Not showing up to jobs and we were supposed to. How do we not ever do that again? So harness that pain. Set aside a day. And document this stuff, it’s not complicated. It really isn’t. And now, if a Meathead could figure it out, you know? Yeah. It really, it does take discipline, though. It does take discipline.
Allison Howell What are you most proud of accomplishing through your business?
Aaron Steed Hmm. That’s a hard question.
Allison Howell You can give more than one answer. We won’t limit you.
Aaron Steed Yeah, yeah. I’d say, I’d say making a difference. Having the autonomy to donate and to hire and to explore business opportunities, to take whatever time off to, you know, to have the freedom to try to understand. Like if I have a strong energy current within myself, really wanting to develop our focus on something, I have the freedom to be able to do that and I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I didn’t have a successful business. And that’s an absolute blessing, and I didn’t always have that.
Allison Howell Hmm. Um, how do you feel like being an entrepreneur has changed you personally?
Aaron Steed Oh, it forces you to take a good, hard look at yourself. You know, I’ve been I’ve been arrogant. I’ve been humbled. I’ve been on top of the world. I’ve been crying to bankers. You know, like it is such — you’re signing up to bet on yourself and the harder you’re willing to take a look at yourself, the better you and your team are going to do. If you’re stuck in your ways and you’re close minded, you’re going to be left behind.
Allison Howell So tell us a little bit more about your sales process, your sales strategy. It seems like moving is a pretty competitive industry, so I bet people are price shopping all the time or hey, I’m just calling to get a quote. Like, how do they even know what they’re — ? How do they know how to shop for you?
Aaron Steed Number one, I do not care what my competitors charge at all. When we go into a new market, I don’t price shop. I don’t care. Zero.
Allison Howell Good for you.
Aaron Steed Yeah.
Allison Howell I wish we all could be so brave.
Aaron Steed No, no. And I’ll explain why I think we should. Because what our customers think they want when we’re talking to them on the phone, when they’re trying to book a moving job is, one, are you available? Number two, what’s the price? And number three, do I have like a good feeling about you?
Allison Howell Hmm.
Aaron Steed Fast forward two weeks, what they actually care about on move day and what they’re going to tell their friends and family about their Meathead experience is, how do they feel around our employees? How did our equipment look like? Did we break anything or did we not break anything? Was there any really funny, great moments, or was there something really, really bad that happened? It’s all about the experience that they have. It’s not about your availability or your price. They’ll talk about the price after the fact if they feel surprised or if they feel bait and switched.
Allison Howell Right.
Aaron Steed But if you bring your clients through a process of understanding what they’re concerned about and how we’re going to solve it, and don’t surprise them on the price, and if you’re confident delivering truly a great service, then I’d rather do that than be the same as, you know, the thousands of other moving companies that we compete against.
Allison Howell Right. Can you explain more what you mean by not surprise them on the price?
Aaron Steed Sure. So in our business, you get a minimum and we define the scope of work. You know, so we would get an inventory of everything. One way or another, we get an inventory. And then we’d give a Not-to-Exceed to do that job, which is based on an estimated hours for the employees and the trucks that we’re going to have and the supplies. And then there’s a minimum for the minimum amount of hours and then there’s a maximum for the maximum of hours. And then if we end up taking longer than the maximum amount, we don’t charge the client more for that. It usually falls like somewhere, like kind of in the middle.
Allison Howell Mm-Hmm. Meathead has done some moves for event rental businesses. I’m just wondering how you’ve developed some of those relationships and how other event rental businesses can, like what they should be looking for when they’re looking for moving companies to partner with.
Aaron Steed I think if I owned an event rental company and I wanted to have a moving company partner, I would — it’s important to understand a few things. Number one, moving companies are usually their busiest on the weekends and Fridays.
Allison Howell Right.
Aaron Steed Bummer. You know, two, they need direction. You know, don’t expect that just to be outsourced just because it’s a local moving brand.
Allison Howell Sure.
Aaron Steed I think you need to know and understand, they’ll need help with implementing.
Allison Howell Right.
Aaron Steed You know, and the thing is, moving companies are going to tend to want to do their bread and butter first, which is doing local moves. And it’s going to be hard to get them to be enthusiastic, to do early morning or late night jobs, and a lot of times they’ll be going into overtime to accommodate that. And I don’t think you guys are going to want to do that unless you can get like a real special relationship going where everything’s really, really clear. But then the question is how much business can you really give them and how sustainable, you know, is it? It depends on what you’re looking for. I don’t know if that’s a good answer.
Allison Howell No, that’s helpful. You know, it would have to take a really special relationship to be able to partner with a moving company, given the fact that a lot of the work is weekends, nights and there’s a lot of overlap in the kind of busyness.
Aaron Steed Absolutely. And if you’re going to look to hire some movers for your business, there’s a couple of things that you can do, I think, to really try to attract them. One, what we talked about, creating the value of understand their goals are reverse engineer it. But to maybe create some incentives, like what if things don’t get broken or damaged? What if they’re on time for 30 times in a row, something of that nature and then not just have your hourly rate, but what are some other incentives you can provide? And then average what that employee would get paid plus incentives.
Allison Howell Mm-Hmm. Well, I think there are some obvious crossovers between the moving industry and event rentals, but just to make sure that our audience really feels like, you know what they’re talking about and what they go through, do you have any horror stories or nightmares you want to share?
Aaron Steed Oh, my goodness. All I can say is some of our customers are crazy. We had a customer in Orange County during the summer who wanted us to move her pet crow. Who has a crow? And I don’t even care if she sees this online because like, I don’t want to move you either. First of all, who has a pet crow? And it was, like, it was in a really big cage. And somehow this request got to me because no one knew what to do. And then so across my team, I said, No, we’re not going to move a crow and have it die in our truck. What’s wrong with these people?
Aaron Steed And then, so then we, so I didn’t hear anything of it. And then I guess the crew ended up going back to lunch — or ended up going to lunch. We came back to the job site and the crow was not in the cage. So the crew moved the cage and we didn’t really. I guess they didn’t really think anything of it. Loaded everything into the truck. We drove over to the destination, unloaded. As we’re unloading the truck, there’s a little, you know, a beak was popping in the box and the box is shaking, and our crew member didn’t really know what to do. The beak, like broke the skin of one of our movers fingers, so we had to take him to the little health clinic to get stitched up.
Allison Howell From a crow injury.
Aaron Steed From a crow injury.
Allison Howell Please tell me he has a scar so he can tell the story.
Aaron Steed I think so.
Allison Howell Oh.
Aaron Steed I think so.
Allison Howell Yeah.
Aaron Steed So…
Allison Howell Yeah, that’s, that’s…
Aaron Steed That’s a nutty one. Yeah, we’ve moved hoarder situations. We’ve moved celebrities. People who think they’re famous — they’re the worst. If anyone wants, Oh, I have 50,000 Instagram followers. Shut up, we don’t care. Go away, you’re the biggest pain in the ass customer. And you’re not that important. And no, you’re not going to get a discount. Raise your hand if you feel me on that one. Yeah, exactly. It’s like, no.
Allison Howell Oh! The room has their hands raised.
Aaron Steed Great.
Allison Howell So event rental businesses do a lot of what you do. Part of your secret sauce is that you’re hiring student athletes who are super motivated with a fail proof system. But I’m wondering if you can share any other tips or tricks or tools of the trade with us about warehouse organization or the world’s best dollies or lifting techniques or other insider secrets.
Aaron Steed Hmm. What I can tell you is I think it’s time well spent getting trained on how to train your drivers on your trucks for a couple of reasons. We put everyone through, it’s called Smith Systems. It’s what I believe FedEx puts their drivers through. And it trains you on how to be a trainer for your truck drivers. Now, if you do that, you’re going to — and you train your drivers is going to take a couple of hours, you’re going to get to know your drivers better. They’re going to get trained on how to drive the trucks better, and that’s what keeps me up at night. That’s our biggest liability that someone gets in a vehicle accident and hurts themself or others. And you’re either going to pay now or later, you know, you’re preventative maintenance or you’re going to be reacting to possibly a vehicle accident.
Aaron Steed And then a few other tips that I do have, actually, is pad wrap from the bottom up. A lot of times when people are moving furniture, they’ll just put a moving blanket like on top of the chair and then what’s exposed? The little feet, right? And then what gets dinged up? The little feet. So instead, lay down the moving pad on the floor, put the chair on top of the pad, wrap it, then shrink, wrap the pad and then put a pad on top. You’re going to use more pads, yes, but you’re not — it’s going to save you money in maintenance and handyman services, I think, down the road.
Aaron Steed Another tip is get felt pads for under the feet of all of your furniture. Because if you scratch a floor — raise your hand if you’ve scratched a floor for your customers and if you’ve been held accountable to paying for it. It’s very expensive. It’s rare it’s under $1,500. Another thing that’s important is make sure the moving blankets are clean. If they — if moving pads get thrown on the ground and then put back on furniture, thrown on the ground, then put back on furniture, you can get what’s called fine garnish scratches, especially for light dining room tables or something, where, because has our absorbent, and then if you put it down on a piece of furniture that you put a piece of furniture on top of a piece of furniture, and then the road vibration in the truck, the pads can actually scratch the furniture.
Allison Howell It becomes sandpaper.
Aaron Steed Totally. Yeah. So.
Allison Howell Wow.
Aaron Steed Hope that’s helpful.
Allison Howell Those are those are really helpful tips for sure.
Aaron Steed Ok, good. Yeah.
Aaron Steed Well, we’re going to go ahead and take some questions from our audience. So if you have a question, raise your hand and we’ll bring you a microphone.
Danielle Ehrlich Gombos My name is Danielle, and I’m from Gather & Lounge. How do you keep moving blankets off the floor?
Aaron Steed How do I what?
Danielle Ehrlich Gombos Keep moving blankets off the floor?
Aaron Steed Oh, we have a sacrifice pad.
Allison Howell What’s a sacrifice pad?
Aaron Steed A sacrifice pad is you lay down one pad and then you throw down all the pad, and then you fold as you go. So you take a pad off, you fold it and they lay it down. So yeah, you have one sacrifice pad.
Danielle Ehrlich Gombos Ok, I like that.
Allison Howell So you know which one’s the sacrifice because all the others are folded?
Aaron Steed That’s right.
Jacqueline Johannesson Hi, I’m Jacqueline, from Collected & Co. So we have a college in our town and hiring student athletes, how do you handle them being like uber afraid of getting hurt and then they’re going to be in trouble with school?
Aaron Steed Hmm. I don’t think they’re really afraid of — we haven’t experienced that of them being afraid getting hurt working for us.
Jacqueline Johannesson Ok.
Aaron Steed And part of our promise is we’re going to keep them safe. You know, and our track record substantiates that. We expand the job description so they don’t just have to move heavy furniture, get paid, we’ll pay them to go do marketing, or to do warehouse work, or wash trucks, anything. Because we’re self-insured and because we don’t want to hurt our employees, we want to keep them, we want them to get stronger, we really, I think, try to create an environment where they’re not going to get hurt. And we don’t want them to do anything where they could potentially get hurt.
Jacqueline Johannesson Totally understand. Part two. How do you get your guys to really care about your clients pieces, but also move faster? Because I feel like when I talk to — and I don’t manage our delivery guys, but when I do, I think I scared the living who knows what out of them. Because then they move very slow because they’re worried they’re going to hit something or ding a table.
Aaron Steed Yeah, it’s a good question. So a few things. Number one, there are incentive programs where they get paid more when things don’t get broken or damaged. There’s also incentive programs that they receive high customer service ratings on the Post Jobs Survey. So there’s some metrics there. But culturally, if we have one guy that’s careless and breaking things, it kind of screws up the tip potential for the crew at the end of the day. And it also like messes up the relationship we have with the customer.
Aaron Steed So I know that’s not totally similar to your business, but I wonder if there could be some potential crossovers where there could–. Any time where you can create that peer pressure to deliver a great service, I wonder if there’s a way you can kind of create it on your own, because that’s really powerful. Because they’re going to try to make their coworker more happy than they are their boss sometimes, especially if they know you really need them.
Morgan Montgomery Morgan from Paisley & Jade. Obviously at this point, you have people referring their friends and people they know, but do you have any advice for anybody who wants to get into hiring athletic college people and how to go about like getting in the door there?
Aaron Steed Yeah, I would say getting clear on the value that you have to offer them, you know, part time schedules, the opportunity to move up within the organization, get paid to work out, management experience, good pay. If there’s incentives that you have, incorporate those incentives in the pay and develop the relationships and walk in and ask, Do you have any athletes or any students or anyone within your circle that is looking for a really great job where they can gain these skills or have a job that that will allow them to, you know, do that. Just get clear on what you’re messaging is. But don’t just talk about moving because that’s that’s not fun or sexy. Talk about the things that are fun and sexy.
Beth Helmstetter Hi, Beth Helmstetter, Beth Helmstetter Events. I just want to add on to yours. We actually also hire student athletes to support us at event days. We have relationships with the coaches of the teams. So that’s how we’ve found them over the years, and he contacts us every season to see if we have work for him.
Aaron Steed Absolutely. Yeah, you’re solving a problem for them. Thank you for following up on that question. Because that’s what we do too, for sure.
Jenika McDavitt I’m Jennifer from Psychology for Photographers. I love how you described how you talk up the benefits to potential employees and benefits to them personally. And I wondered if you could talk about the other side of that, which is how do you assess attitude in potential employees?
Aaron Steed So we have something called the “service pillars”. I stayed a really great resort in Cabo one time, and at the end of my stay there, I asked the general manager, I’m like, How the heck did you do this? This is the most unbelievable experience I’ve ever had in my entire life, as far as customer service goes. It was over the top. And I was fortunate enough where he spent two hours sitting with me saying, You know, most businesses get clear on their values and their mission statement, but that’s really for the executives and the business owners to guide their decisions and whatnot. But our employees, what they have is their service pillars. And their service pillars is what they live and breathe. That’s what they get judged on. And it is what our employer reviews on. There’s a card within their wallet that talks about the service pillars.
Allison Howell He’s breaking out his wallet, people.
Aaron Steed Here’s mine. And here’s mine right here. So this is a metal card, and each of our employees have this. And on the back is our service pillars. And our service pillars, it says “interest, attitude, tone of voice, action, and body language”. And our movers judge and grade each other on how good of a job they are or are not doing it. It’s in our hiring process. It’s in our training programs, it’s in our review process. This emblem of our service pillars is on our shirts, it’s on posters, it’s in our memos. We have meetings once a month and we review one service pillar and give an example of it in detail every single month. We read Yelp reviews and we discuss what service pillar was or was not embodied and why.
Aaron Steed And it’s something for our movers to own. This is what they are owning, is them upholding their interest in their customer, their tone of voice, their body language, their attitude. And it’s something that we all get clear and we all agree on. We’re going to crush it as a team when we’re interacting with our clients about these things, and this is going to be our code of conduct. This is going to be our common vocabulary when we’re interacting with each other. And I give all of my employees the permission to hold me accountable to it as well. So it goes both ways.
Jenika McDavitt Did I hear you say that you have your employees evaluate each other? And if so, could you tell me more about that process?
Aaron Steed Yeah, the first 20 jobs, there’s a cross evaluation where there’s the service pillar and one through five, how did they go about upholding each of the service pillars? And that gets documented and then averaged. And then there a meeting with the operations manager and our new employee to discuss how their peers felt about them on their first 20 jobs.
Allison Howell A big thanks to Aaron for giving us a new perspective. Check out the show notes to find links to his website and Instagram and be sure to click the link to join the RW Elephant mailing list if you haven’t already. And now, please enjoy Aaron’s reluctant lightning round in front of a live audience. He did great.
Allison Howell Sole Proprietorship, LLC, S Corp, Offshore Dummy Corporation.
Aaron Steed Yeah, so Meathead is an S Corp. And then we have a bunch of LLCs.
Allison Howell Great.
Aaron Steed For our storages.
Allison Howell A business book you’d recommend.
Aaron Steed All time favorite book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. I’ve read it so many times. It’s so good.
Allison Howell Do you practice all seven?
Aaron Steed No, I need to do better. I need to definitely do better. But I mean, that’s time-tested principles right there. It’s gold.
Allison Howell Who inspires you?
Aaron Steed I’d say my fiancée, mostly, because of how she treats people and how people treat her. And then. Yeah, that’s what’s coming to my brain.
Allison Howell Well, that that’s a good answer, especially since she’s in the room.
Aaron Steed Yeah. No, it’s totally. Yeah.
Allison Howell Are your personal values different than those of your company?
Aaron Steed No. And that’s why I love my company so much.
Allison Howell Three things outside of work you love to do.
Aaron Steed Jiu Jitsu….Travel. And Jiu Jitsu.
Allison Howell Got it. OK, final question. What do you enjoy most about your entrepreneurial adventure?
Aaron Steed The freedom. Yeah, absolutely. The freedom, for sure.
Allison Howell Yeah, well, thank you so much.
Aaron Steed Thank you. And thank you, everybody.
Allison Howell You can hear more talks like this one at the next Lend & Gather conference. Get the details on upcoming conferences at Lend & Gather.com. We’ve also dropped a link in our show notes. And as always, I thank you for listening to The Trunk Show brought to you by RW Elephant. I’m your host, Allison Howell. Happy renting!