Keeping CORE by KHI Restoration

In an industry as demanding as restoration, keeping your team in sync is crucial. But how do you do it? Join us as we talk to Spencer Hicks from CORE by KHI Restoration about creating a culture of open communication, developing internal champions, and paving the way for internal growth and success.

Episode Transcription

Spencer Hicks
The key in most businesses is there's an old saying that says if you can get everybody to row in the same way, with the same strength, in the same direction, you can pretty much dominate any industry at any time in any economy. And it's a testament to the power of everybody working in sync with one another.

Paul Silliman
Welcome to the Restoration Playbook Podcast by KnowHow.

I'm your host, Paul Silliman, and in this episode we got the chance to sit down with Spencer Hicks, General Manager at CORE by KHI Restoration. Spencer and I were able to connect in Austin, Texas at The Collective by CORE had a great chat about their plans for growth over the coming year. With a long history in sales, coaching and team development, Spencer brings a fresh perspective to the restoration industry. So if you're looking to improve the communication and leadership skills in your team, you're in the right place. Get ready for another insight-filled episode. But first, let me tell you about Knowhow.

KnowHow is an intuitive, mobile-first application designed to rapidly onboard new hires, upskill staff, and provide on-demand expert guidance for whatever task is next. Home to your company's proven methods, KnowHow ensures everyone has the skills they need to get the
job done right. With time-saving features that make it a breeze for management to build, maintain, and translate standard operating procedures. It's time to ditch your outdated operation binders and dated, difficult-to-search systems. With KnowHow in their pocket, your staff have the how-to they need wherever the day takes them. Our new process creator makes drafting new SOPs faster than ever, helping you customize, edit and share your time-tested methods and processes with ease. And you don't have to take my word for it. Schedule a demo at and discover how KnowHow helps restorers get the job done right every time that's And we'll also have a link in the show notes for your convenience.

All right, with that, let's dive into this conversation with Spencer Hicks of CORE by KHI Restoration.

So to kind of kick things off here, if you wouldn't mind, introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about KHI Restoration. And my favorite question, what got you into restoration?

Spencer Hicks
So like you said, my name is Spencer Hicks.

I'm the General Manager here for Core by KHI Restoration. We're in the Cypress, Texas area. That's just outside the Houston Metroplex, one of the suburbs on the northwest side. We are small independent restoration company, been around five, six years now and the company really started towards the end of some of the hurricanes we had, specifically Harvey, and some of the flooding that went on in the area five to seven years ago. And I joined the team in 21 when we had the winter storm Yuri hit and we had most of Texas go under deep freeze. Lots of busted pipes, lots of problems. And it was one of those deals. It was a friend of a friend referral. I was coming off a career in corporate America, Sales Operations, mostly on the industrial side, and needed something new to do. Had done that for about 20 years and was ready for something different.

So coming back to a small, family-owned company... I grew up in a family-owned company. So this was a little bit of a reunion and I jumped in. Brought all the skills that we had put to use in the big companies. Now we're growing this one. And like I tell the owners, we're going to grow it right the first time and not make the same mistakes that we see over and over again in so
many other areas. So it's been a lot of fun. It's been a change, it's been something new and we've learned a lot and we're doing a lot of good things to help folks out.

Paul Silliman
No, that's awesome. I always like to ask that question, how'd you get in the restoration? Because normally there's not that straight answer of, you know, I woke up one day and said, I really want to extract water out of a house. There's normally something back behind it.

I used to work I coached high school baseball. I was working for a parks and rec and I had a buddy reach out and he's like, hey, you're working three jobs. Why don't you just work one and get 100 hours a week? Lo and behold, I thought he was kidding. I didn't realize it was actually 100 hours a week, but it's always interesting.

And one key thing you mentioned is coming from the corporate side and coming into a small town or a smaller restoration company. And that's something that there's a lot of value in, especially in this industry. We see a lot of small companies that do it their way, or we're looking to build champions, or we're looking to build culture. But this is stuff that's been done outside of restoration. We're not rebuilding the wheel. It's bringing it to maybe a little bit more niche of an industry. And I'm curious, one thing we talked about the other day was defining that culture of communication. And I'm curious to get your thoughts on why you believe that
is essential in the restoration industry.

Spencer Hicks
You're right. There's really nothing new in business. There's very little truly new things under the sun. We always hear about the new economy, man. Let me tell you something. When they invented the railroad, it was a new economy. When they invented electricity, it was a new economy. When they invented you name it's a new thing. It's really not the key in most businesses is there's an old saying, it says if you can get everybody to row in the same way with the same strength, in the same direction, you can pretty much dominate any industry at any time in any economy and it's a testament to the power up. Everybody working in sync with one another.

America is just obsessed with sports. It's obsessed with corporate superstars. Your apples and Amazons and Walmarts and that kind of stuff. But really when you look into it. There's no great secret. The value that they're bringing to the market and the reason they're dominating is they're just more in sync with each other. They know how to make the handoffs work real well.

We're rolling into football season here in the early fall. If you've got a running game and you can't get the ball from the quarterback to the running back, you got a problem. And you got a problem that the coaches can't fix. They can yell and scream. They can bust. Receivers can't fix it. Linemen can't fix it. The two people that are getting ready to exchange the ball, they're the
ones that have to get it right. But that's the case throughout the entire organization.

If everybody is making that handoff from what you're doing to service the customer to the next person that has to do something to service the customer, if all of that is smooth, what problems do you have? You don't. And it doesn't matter who it is. Everybody wants to make a big deal about your title.

Titles mean nothing. The person that owns that customer and that is the CEO of that company is whoever is right in front of the customer right now doing something that is the most important person in the organization. The fact that most CEOs don't ever get in front of their customers is an indication of how truly unimportant they are to the customer at the time the service is being provided.

So the key is how do I get my organization to? How do you get your organization to communicate with each other so that when it's time to go from what one person is doing to the next person, it's time for the technician in the field, sucking the water out, drying the water out, taking the moisture ratings.

When it's time for him to be done and it's going to go to the estimator that's going to put together all the line items and the cost and this, that and the other, it's time to go to the person that's going to do the rebuild. If your company does rebuild, when it's time to hand that customer off to somebody else, does two things happen? One, does the organization know what they're about to get and what they are supposed to do? And then two, does the customer know what the organization is about to do for them and what they need to do as a customer to help this process along?

So are we communicating to the customer externally? Are we communicating to the customer internally? If that is happening and the customer knows what to expect and what to do and how to do it? Because you've coached them on doing that. And the next person in your organization knows what to do and those things line up. The probability that you'll have a problem is very low. There's always the possibility, but the probability that you're going to have problems on every job after job, customer after customer, goes way down.

The problem that most humans have is they just underestimate how much communication it actually takes to get everybody up on the same page, ready to go when you start to make that handoff and that's the art. The science is easy. That's a whiteboard and some creative people. The art is getting all the people to really know that and to do the training and to help everybody understand how important this is so that handoff is smooth and the customer goes, man, it was like know, Amazon Prime, there we go, my house is fixed.

Well, all the things that have to happen on the back end for that Amazon Prime to happen, you never see, and you don't want the customer to see it, but everybody's got to be doing that job back on the backside.

Paul Silliman
No, that makes perfect sense. And two things you mentioned there, that one I really liked was empowering that work. They're the CEO of that job. They're empowering that person. That is their job. This is what they're doing they are empowered to it. But also the kind of the two ways you broke that down is communicating with the homeowner. Are you giving a clear and concise picture of what's about to happen and why things are happening? But also, do you have that communication internally?

And I think there's a lot of people in restoration today that are looking, how do we help make sure empower the homeowner well, do you have that internal messaging lined up internally? Does your team actually know from point A to point B who's going where, what that communication looks like and how to do that? And then I feel like once that's understood, then it's easier to communicate it to a homeowner because people know where they're going.

I think that's two very powerful things. And I'm curious, what are some key elements to making sure that communication with your team is... they understand exactly what they're doing and how to do it?

Spencer Hicks
Now we're getting into some of the art. You can write a book about it, but until you actually sit down at a table and you try to get everybody on the speed, it's a lot more difficult than it sounds. It's not particularly complex people they're enamored with, this has to be complex.
No, this is not complex in that it's a difficult thing to understand.

It's an easy thing to understand.

It's a difficult thing to execute.

It's a difficult thing to bring the self discipline to the organization to make yourself do this. So today we're doing the broadcast at the end of the business day, at the beginning of the
business day. Our organization had our production meeting, and our production meeting is not a meeting that we sit around and we talk about, okay, well, you need to pick the fans up. You need to put them in the van, you need to turn them off. It's not what our production meeting is. A meeting where we make sure that we didn't lose anything in the cracks over the last five to seven days. So as a General Manager, my job is, I lead the meetings. I've got our owners, I've got our Production Manager, our Mitigation Managers, I got my Office Managers, I've got my Estimators. Everybody's in the room. And we're going down the job. And we're looking for is this job on track or off track?

If it's off track, why is it off track? Who's going to take the ball? What's required? Do you need additional resources in order to get this thing back on track? And we've defined what all those things are. So our senior management team has spent a lot of time sitting down and going, what makes something on track? What makes it off track? When has a job gone awry or when is it tracking? Kind of like we would expect it to. It's three days drying. It's four days drying. Okay. But once it gets past five once. We know it's going past five days, there's a problem. This is no longer a standard job. We know that it's not going to be a standard job because now I'm going to have to explain to an adjuster or a homeowner or some materially invested person in this property why my mitigation is going longer than what is pretty normal for us. There may be a very good reason for it. It may just be a really big property. It may have just been really wet. It may be really humid and raining outside. There's a lot of reasons why it would be off track, but I'm still going to have to make that explanation. Therefore, it has flagged in our system and with my people, hey, this one is going to have a problem.

We're going to have to do something extra. There's going to be an additional conversation. Somebody's going to have an explanation. We need to make sure we understand internally what's going on with that job and why we're going to have that extra discussion. If it's on track, there's nothing left to talk about. Everybody's doing their job. It's right where we're expected to be. It should be tracking right between the two tolerances lines, no problem. And then we go through, and every single person is responsible for that job at different areas.

And as we make those handoffs, we make sure we're communicating. Okay, mitigation is done. They picked up all the equipment, the dehus, the fans, everything's back in the shop. Mitigation is done. Rebuild. You guys need to now go walk the job. And you need to start putting together your timetable for your reconstruction and everything else. Estimating is working on it. They don't have it done yet, but you can still go walk that job and we can start having that conversation with that customer now about what are we doing, because there's a dead zone. We know, hey, these are all the things that we're doing in that production meeting.

We're telling that story of that job as we go through it so that everybody's on page. So if even though this hypothetical job is now passed on to reconstruction, but they still have the telephone number for my Mitigation Tech, if they call him, I need him to tell the same story.

"Hey, you know what? Thanks for calling. I really appreciate that. Yes, we finished that. You should be in this. We've already talked about this. You really need to reach out to John. He's going to be the guy that's going to be doing this. Remember I mentioned him when I saw you last? Here's his number. He's expecting to meet with you very shortly to talk about this project and make sure you stay in tune with what's going on as we go through."

That's the kind of communication I don't need Zach to answer for what John's going to do, but I want Zach telling that exact same story in that same tone and timbre that you would expect to hear. People that know what's going on, it builds trust, it builds confidence, it builds peace inside the customer that they know their property is in the hands of people that are paying attention.

If you can do that, so many problems just melt away. But you got to communicate, and you got to communicate in a very specific and thoughtful way that customer knows, hey, it's not just they're doing something.

It's that they're engaged in my project. They seem to care about it because they're talking about it like they know what's going on. Those kind of things we talk about.

In those production meetings, we talk about how to message that to the customer. How do we want to talk aboutthat? What's going on? Are we tracking like we're expecting to? Are they going to be trying to look down the road and find those things?

All of that is communication. All of it is internal.

Then when we talk to the customer, it becomes much more natural for my folks to talk about it in a very confident way because we've been through all the messaging. We the senior team has coached the folks in front of the customer. This is what we're saying. This is what's going on. This is how we approach it. We're very intentional about the language we use when we talk about a customer and their project and the problem and what's going on. I'm very intentional about adjectives that I use, how I phrase things, so that I frame this project or this problem in a light that doesn't cause a customer additional stress. That's unnecessary because they don't know what's going on. They've never been through it. So expecting them to know is that's like expecting kindergartners to understand calculus. They just don't, they're just not there.

Paul Silliman
Yeah, they've never been through a loss a day in their life, so they have no idea what's happening. And one thing you mentioned there, when it comes to communication, where I see you guys really taking a different approach is a lot of people nowadays are talking about we want to standardize, we want to have. SOPs best, from what it sounds like, is you guys were able to break down exactly what's supposed to happen, your typical job flow, and
then also where those red flags come from, because it's easy to get into these organizations where it's like, oh, yeah, I got crews that have been here for ten years, or we know what's going on. How many people actually know what the actual flow of a job looks like? Not just, oh yeah, we'll be out there, it'll be dry in four to five days, no big deal.

But then they actually when we're on day six or seven, they're like, what's going? You know, we just had some additional things here that you guys have actually broken it down to where it's like you mentioned, when you order something from Amazon, it's just like any other production or anything outside of restoration here's, the different steps you go through. And I feel like that's a huge perk to that communication tool, especially for everyone involved, is when you know those physical next steps and something does come up, you have a plan,
action and actionable steps to go off from there compared to, well, it's in progress, we'll have an update next week. I've sat in a lot of production meetings where it's, yeah, I'm working with them, we're in the process, I sent them an email. We'll have everything next week we should have a better update.

Well, realistically, between now and next week, there's how many different steps that need to happen. It's something to where mapping that out just allows for that easy communication. And I'm curious to see is that something that's really helped you guys?

Spencer Hicks
Yeah, if you think about it, and this is something again, this is not unique to restoration. I mentioned earlier, I came out of the industrial backgrounds. I started my career working in robotics and material handling and machine automation. I worked through the electrical industries doing stuff in oil and gas. I've worked for some really big Fortune 50 companies. I've worked for some small integrators and specialty shops. None of what I'm talking about here is really unique to an industry. This is all unique to the human experience.

So one of the things that you'll find as you move from industry, everybody's got their acronyms, everybody's got their abbreviations, everybody's got their slang and their terminology that they use. And they understand it. And when you talk to the customer.

The customer is going, I don't have this freaking clue what that guy was talking about. Did you understand that? I didn't understand. What did he mean by blah, blah? And you forget as you get into an industry how much you know and how much the customer doesn't know and what that gap is like and what that learning curve feels like when you run into, you know, as we took KHI from a two, three person operation up to where we are now, which is not huge. We're six, seven people. A couple of key subcontractors make us probably 1012 people. But we sat down, and, yes, we did do the SOPs.

SOPs are so important. You got to have them. But it's more than that. You can't just stop at here's the bulleted checklist. That checklist is the beginning. That's like completing your first five K. If you're trying to become a marathon runner, that's just the beginning of what your journey is. So for us and how that looked.

For us, we took SOPs. I sat down, and I said, okay, I've now been through X number of jobs with the organization. I've seen this, I've seen that. We did some big jobs. We did some small jobs. What was that like? And I wrote it down, and then I presented to the management team, and we talked about it, and we talked about it, and we talked to the point where everybody's sitting around the table looking at it, and nobody's saying anything because nobody knows what else to say about it. I say okay. Great. Let's take this. We're going to throw it aside, and we're going to all sit on it for six months. And I didn't bring it back up for six months.

And then went through another round of projects or another storm or another whatever. I bring it back out, and I said, what does everybody think about this now? Oh, no, you can't have this. And we ripped the whole thing apart again, okay? And we kept ripping it apart until we couldn't rip it apart anymore.

I made them simplify the workflow until the point where if you took something out, it didn't work. We ripped it down to the lowest common denominator.

How simple can you make this before it just doesn't work?

Once we got there, then we said, okay, for each one of these departments. We also do roofing, along with mitigation and reconstruction, which is a little bit of a side deal. Roofing, mitigation. It's not a linear one to the other like the reconstruction is. I says, Where are the handoffs? When we do this, we go out, we see what's the handoff? What does that look like? What are the deliverables? So mitigation. What's the deliverables? Well, I got to have the moisture log.
I got to have the moisture map. I've got to have a contract. I've got to have this, I've got to have that. Here are the things that we've got to have. Can we do it without any one of these? When you get to the point when everybody agrees, no, you have to have this. This is your minimum fine. These are your handoffs. These get written in red.

This is what gets handed to the next person. So this is what we're going to focus on. So like estimating we said, okay, how long does our estimator have? Once I hand him the Mitigation documents, okay, here's my Mitigation tech. You have to hand these in. Here's the check sheet. You got to hand this in. This has to go boom. Here it is. When the Mitigation guy gets it, how long does he have? I had the Mitigation guy in there at the moment. He was like, I want ten days. And the boss is like, you get three days. And then went into a fistfight about that
internally until we found a day and time that everybody was cool with. They said, yes, that's reasonable.

It's okay with the customer. It's okay with the insurance company. It's okay with us. Internally, it fits this. That's a good day. That becomes our marker for on track and off track.

But you got to understand, we've gone through now this cycle over and over again. This is not a one time deal. We've been working on this for a little over a year and a half. Weekly in Mate, beating this up and beating it up and beating it up. And there's many times people have gotten upset, and we've had a lot of really good discussion, but that's okay, because anytime that happens, we stop. Hey, look, this is not personal. We are all trying to find the right spot. The right answer fits everyone in here, including our customers, including our insurance companies and partners, including it has to fit everyone, and we just keep beating on it until we find it. Once we had that so I've done my SOPs we know how it flows. If we map it out, everybody in the company can draw this map. Everybody in the company can write out what are the executables, what are the on track, off track markers for every department. Everybody knows. Now we're going through and we're communicating. Now we're to the point where we sit around, we talk about the jobs. We can have conversations that I don't have to explain why
an estimate has to be out in three days or five days or ten days or whatever it is now we're talking about.

"Okay, Mr. Technician, how are you going to explain to the customer the next time you're out there that this is now going to go seven days? What happens if the customer asks you this?"

Okay, well, that's not a good answer.

And the stuff Paul, you said earlier, oh, we'll just have a better estimate. We'll have this. That's not good enough. I've become maniacal about no, you are going to learn to explain this
correctly, Mr. Customer. We are well aware of the fact that this is going on. Here is what has happened here's, how it affected us. Here's what we are doing to bring this back on track. If it can be or if it's just going to go. We are already in discussions with the insurance company letting them know they are fully apprised of the situation. They know what to expect. There won't be any surprises. I can't say insurance is going to prove it, but I can say they're not going to have any surprises. Okay. That's then how you explain and how you drive communication all the way from a general manager through a management team, through a technician, to a customer, through an estimator, to an insurance adjuster.

All the way down so that everybody understands what's going on and there are no surprises. There's no surprises. The chances of there being a problem are pretty slim. It's surprises. It's the unexpected. You didn't tell me that. I didn't know that. That's when you have problems and those are really hard holes to get out of and we just want to avoid those in the first place. So we communicate. But it took setting the SOPs and then digging past the SOPs looking for what are the markers for when a job has gone too long. Where's your high intolerance, where's your lower intolerance? And this all comes from experience in manufacturing, from those previous lives. But once you find them, you can.

Start to use those in your communication with customers. And internally it will not take long for that to really start to show the fruit of all that work and effort. It comes pretty quick, but you got to do the work. There is no substitute. There just is no substitute. And if you're a CEO, if you're an owner, if you're really one of those charismatic guys out there, you're going to think to myself, I just throw this up on a whiteboard and here it is and I'm done, and move on. I can guarantee you the first time you go through it, you won't have it, right? You will pound on that and pound on that for months at a time and every time you pound on it, you're refining out the garbage that's in there that you just don't even know about. But I guarantee you've got it. Just keep pounding on it.

You'll get there. And you'll know when you get there.

Paul Silliman
And I got to give you guys a lot of credit because it's not easy to do, especially when you have people with experience to keep going through this and keep putting that effort in, because it's very easy in this industry to simply look at, well, we've done it this way ten years, so it works, or to be able to have those conversations but now that you've spent that time, you've really broken it down to such a level to where anyone that organization understands.

I'm curious to see how is that translating to your team? Are people now able to feel
confident? And we talked about before now you can have a worker who understands what they're doing and can actually shut their brain off some days and be like, all right, here's what I'm doing. Here's the steps I can take. I'm going to go out and do my job, know what I'm doing. Is that something you're seeing? A lot of positive feedback from your team?

Spencer Hicks
We're getting there. Yes, I am seeing it. We're just at the beginning stages of a lot of this with really starting to see it come around from the team.

But when I talk about these things I don't see the deer and headlights look from my team members, which is positive. I'm starting to see them kind of shake their head, yes, I got it. I know I see it. I'm starting to understand it. I'm starting to see how that plays in everything else that you're doing. I'll tell you something about the experience, guys. Here's the sad truth. And
again, this is a people thing. You can go to any industry. I guarantee you're going to find this. People are creatures of habit. We like to do the same thing the same way over and over again.

I'll tell a secret about me. Doing something new for the first time is usually really hard for me because I overthink it. And sometimes the easiest way to get through it is I just have to jump in and start doing it. Stop thinking about it, just jump in and start trying to fill that sucker out and see where you get.

I developed this saying in another industry. But you said you got workers. Hey, we've been doing it this way for ten years. Another thing you'll hear is, I'm an experienced individual. I got ten years of experience doing this. Well, sometimes what you really have is you got one year of experience repeated ten times. You did it garbage of year one, but it was good enough garbage to get by, and you just repeated the garbage ten times over. That's not really ten years of experience. Ten years of experience would be, hey, year one was kind of garbage,
and we continued to pound on it and refine it and make it better.

And I listened to podcasts and I read books and I talked to other people, and I went to industry events, and I listened and I thought about it, and I made suggestions and meetings, and we implemented them. Some of them worked and some of them didn't work. But
the ones that worked, we kept. The ones we didn't work, we tried to learn from. Why didn't that work? We implemented that back into what we did. And you're always refining your process over and over. That is ten years of experience. Doing the same thing over and over.
Again and getting the same results, even if they're acceptable, is not year over year experience.

Year over year experience is I'm getting better and better at my craft because I have pride in myself and my name being associated with this work. That is craftsmanship, that is experience. And what we're doing at KHI is we're trying to make that concept embedded into the organization that it is not acceptable to not improve. If we are not improving, we are not doing our job. I'm not doing my job. My technician is not doing his job. My owner is not doing his job. My office manager is not doing her job. You have to constantly push, how can I do this better than I did it yesterday? If that's not on your mind, you're missing it in this industry, and you're doing the industry, all the restof us in the industry and all the customers and our insurance partners a disservice. That's just the reality.

So are we seeing the results? Yeah, we're beginning to do I anticipate this to really start getting some traction here over about the next four to seven months. Yes, I do. Do I expect to have any more turnover? No, I think my turnover is probably coming to an end. Did we have turnover? You bet you we did. Because eventually we reached a point where I don't care anymore. You have to get on board with what we're doing, because what we're doing is right for the customer. If you can't get on board with it, therefore you are not right for the customer and you can't be here.

Paul Silliman
And I think that's a really powerful statement because everyone talks about team culture. It's a hot topic nowadays, but with you guys putting in the work that you have, you're building a culture to where, if it's not aligned with where we're going, it's not in harmony with what we're doing, and it's not something that's going to benefit our customers.

But also, maybe if you don't want to keep improving or keep learning or dive into what we're doing, maybe you're not a fit. And that's something that, especially in today's day and age, where everyone's saying they're struggling to find workers, well, there's some days where it's, you know what, maybe this isn't a good fit. But when you do build that culture to where everyone's looking to improve, everyone's part of that conversation.

Now you got people that are part of that vision and they want to grow with you, and that's where you're building those kind of champions. And people that want to grow and live that culture and it just is going to make it stronger and stronger.

Spencer Hicks
Here's how I expect it to play out. I expect this to play out in that the next phase is everybody really starts putting this concept into their DNA. And the team that I have now really starts to dig in, and we're going to find some more ways, some more areas we can improve the customer experience, our cost and our profitability and all that kind of stuff.

My limiting factor, once that happens, will never, ever again be my people or the opportunity that's available in the market. My limiting factor on growth will be our ability to find people that can do the same process of putting it in their DNA and becoming that KHI person. Because we will not grow for the sake of growth with the wrong people. Never again will we have the wrong folks.

We may hire somebody that turns out not to be the right person. Our job is to eject them as fast as possible for two reasons. One, they're so detrimental to the organization here. And two, we're just robbing them of their life that they can go someplace where they hopefully are a fit and they mesh and do well. Just because they're not a fit here doesn't make them a bad person. It just means you're not a fit for here, and that's okay.

Not everybody has to be a fit here. But our ability to grow will be based upon our ability to find folks that fit the culture. They're the right person for the bus. Then it's a matter of what skill set do they have and how do I deploy that inside the organization for maximum effect. But step one, got to be the right person. If they're not the right person, they got to go. And we're not going to grow. I'm not going to worry about growth until I find the right person.

Once you hit a certain level, once your business hits a certain level, man, you're paying your bills, you're paying your salaries, you're paying all that kind of stuff. The owner is making a little bit of money. Hey, you're at altitude, you're fine. You don't have to grow just for the sake of growing. Grow as you find the right people, because the growth one will look like just effortless magic. Everybody's just like, how does he do that? Put him on the COVID of Forbes. This guy's a genius. Hey, you can still go home at 05:00 and have a life. That's important because you got this baby up and running. Don't destroy it by putting the wrong people in it.

Just wait. Go looking for the right people. If you're the owner, if you're the CEO, spend your time recruiting. Who do you know imbunes and just exudes the kind of person you're looking for. Get a psychologist to come in and help you figure it out. Where on those crazy personality shards is your target person? You're hiring somebody, give them one.

If they don't fit there, move on, but get the right people.

So for us, three to seven months. I think we will finish the turn. For us, we're going to have the culture pretty much set with the crew that we have now. And then it's going to be a matter of how do I find the right people, how do I find folks that exemplify the core values that we have here that are going to drive our success? And then it's just going to be a matter of rinse and repeat.

Paul Silliman
Absolutely and no, that's huge.

And that's a perfect segue there. I was going to ask as kind of a takeaway from this, anyone listening to this, you go through, you help standardize those processes. You get this down to that granular level. You understand your culture. And now you're in a position where you have your team, you have your values, you have everything lined up. Let's say you do find that right person that fits that mold, kind of what's next? How do you see that incorporating them into that culture and kind of helping them grow?

Spencer Hicks
So it's a great question because that really does become your next phase. Phase two, phase One the big phase one is how do I get the organization I have now firing and tuned and running, and then how do we do that?

So for us, I don't know. I don't know where I'm going to find them, how I'm going to find them. To be honest, I really haven't spent that much time thinking about it. I have spent quite a bit of time thinking and whiteboarding on when I do find them, how do I bring in the organization and then how do I manage my growth of the organization going forward? So bringing them in is going to be a technique I learned at a previous company, and that is really pairing them up with the appropriate mentor inside the organization. So if it's a frontline technician individual, I've got to have a senior technician that I can pair him with. Basically, you're riding with this guy for the next three to three months, minimum 90 days. I don't even want to talk to you until after 90 days, okay? And the technician that I'm pairing him with, this is a technician that I have vetted.

We have been through, we have talked with him about the importance of replicating himself, the importance of teaching, the importance of mentoring, the importance of modeling. What does that individual look like? What does it mean to be a good person for this role? And you got to show them that day in and day out. That technician is also mentored up the line with either myself or one of the owners. And we're helping him transition from frontline worker to quasi-manager type person.

I'm not a big fan of managers. In the corporate sense. I much prefer having mentors, showing folks, this is how it works. This is how it does. If you've got people underneath you, managing them is one thing. Mentoring is something else. And I'm aspiring for me, of a mentor role as they come in. Having them see it in action. We can talk about it in the conference room, and we'll do plenty of that. They'll sit through meetings. They'll sit through the typical rhetoric that we've got coming down just from the day-to-day operation of the business. But getting out and seeing it done, that is where it really takes root. That's where you really get to find out, is this person going to make it or not? You should know really within about the first 30 days, if you've made a really bad hiring decision, the first 30 days, I want to know. We need to already be on that. If we've got somebody that makes it past 90 days, they get into the role and they can't maintain it. There's some of those folks, they're out there, but the red flags and on track, off track should generally take care of managing those folks in or out of the organization, either. Hey, this is the expectation. I need you to get up to this. If you can't, you got to go and taking care of whatever's missing inside of that.

Outside of that, it's going to be a matter of not bringing them in any faster than I've got mentors available to put them with. Which means, hey, when we start this, I can probably only grow this one person at a time. But if I'm really specific and I'm really careful and I'm really diligent, I'm going to get let's use the technician role as an example. I'm going to get another technician that I can grow into a mentor. Well, now I've got two well, now I can bring two new people in. And maybe of them's two next people. One of them is a mentor. Well, that's three new technicians I can come in. So now I can go back to my salesmen and my business development guys and my own are going, hey, you need to get with the TPAs. You need to get with our commercial property, folks. You need to get with this, you need to get that. Hey, I got three guys back here that are all looking to clean up wet, sloppy stuff. That's a mess.

You all need to get out there and get it sold. But until you know that, it's really hard to motivate a salesperson. Hey, you need to sell us. Don't worry about how I'm going to do it because obviously I can do it. Sure, that's got no chance. I'll mess up on the back end. Yeah, salespeople see through that. They don't get it sold. But when I sit back here, I got four outstanding technicians where twelve months ago or 18 months ago, I had one.

You all need to get busy because my laser focus is now coming on. You guys to start putting this together for us, and you just kind of make your way around the organization. Hey, we're going to need more equipment. I may need another office manager. I needed an accounts payable person. Or you just started looking for where's the organization going to have holes, where is it starting to get tight. But it all starts with the people that are out customer-facing and you work your way back up to the senior management staff.

Paul Silliman
No, that makes a lot of sense and it comes right back to what you're talking about at the beginning. It's systematizing it.

Here's what we have in place, here's our communication, here's how we break it down. Now we can bring someone into this role. Now this role can accelerate here. Let's give that information to the technicians. Let's enable them to grow. And as you do that, you're just building out your systems to go along with it. But having all that broken down to start is going to allow for that growth.

And I think that's sometimes that's where I've seen restoration companies maybe skip those steps, go straight into the growth, we're just going to hire a bunch of people now, they're going to be good to go, but they don't have it broken down. And that's where I see where you guys are breaking down the SOPs you're breaking down your expectations, you're creating that company culture, you're creating the vision to everything and being able to systematize it.

And it's just a matter of numbers going into it now where you're going to keep growing it's going to keep adding, you're going to reduce risk, you're going to add more value. And it's something that by taking that time and effort of what you guys were able to put in is going to allow for that growth and success. So definitely hats off to that. We're going to have to do a follow up to this one in six to eight months and we'll have to keep tracking the progress as it goes and I'm excited to see what comes from there.

Wrapping up here, I'm curious to see is there any actual steps or kind of what's some takeaways you can give to our listeners on how to really help drive that growth or maybe update any systems or anything you want to leave with.

Spencer Hicks
You know, here's the takeaway and this is really for the owners and the guys that are sitting at the very top of the organization.

Nobody knew that they needed a Google. When were still using Altvista way back in the beginning of the search engine days.

Nobody knew that they needed an Amazon. When were all spending our time going to Walmart and Target every day.

The market is always ready for a new company that will perform at a very high level of excellence, okay? The market loves those companies.

The market flocks to those people in droves and masses, okay? You cannot stop the stampede once it starts.

What that means is that your goal. Should be to become the best organization. You can be, not the biggest. Biggest is a result of best. If you become the best, you'll neverave to worry about being the biggest. In fact, you will probably find that being the biggest is just full of headaches that you don't actually want. Okay.

Drive your organization to excellence, not to size. If you're growing and you can't manage it, stop. All you're doing is heading towards the cliff. Throw the brakes on, man. It'll be okay. The market's not going to leave you. They're not going to hate you. They will reward you like you can never believe. If you will just stop long enough to appreciate that what the market really wants is somebody to take care of them in a better way than what they have now. Figure out how to do that. Put people on board where that's their goal and mission too. Make that your focus.

I assure you will never, ever be in lack of opportunity in the market. Yeah, you may have faster times and slower times, but you will never be in need of customers or folks to give you recommendation or Google five star reviews or TPAs that will come work with you, or property management. It's all there. What they're waiting on is for you to get your chisel together so you can supply them and service them in the way that they deserve to be serviced. Figure that part out, the rest will take care of itself.

Paul Silliman
Spencer, that's amazing. There's some golden nuggets in there. I hope anyone listening can take away from that. We're definitely going to do a schedule of follow up because we're going to want to keep progressing and hearing how this is. You know, I really appreciate you jumping on today, Spencer. This was fantastic. And look forward to hearing some updates and seeing how you guys grow.

Spencer Hicks
Absolutely man, we're looking forward to it. We're excited where we're going. Some days are easy, some days are really hard. But that's okay. Where we're shooting for is worth the effort and worth the journey.

Paul Silliman
Well, let me ask you this, if anyone wants to get a hold of you, follow, you know, where can they follow, you know, take a look at KHI?

Spencer Hicks
So we're on Facebook, we're on LinkedIn a little bit. My profile is on LinkedIn as well.

Website is We just updated the website. Come give us a look. Still putting stuff back up on there, but reach out, send me an email.

And if there's questions or ways I can help, we're happy to do so. It's always about helping the other guy out. It just makes all of us better.

Paul Silliman
Absolutely. Makes the industry better as a whole. Spencer, thank you so much and we'll make sure to put all your information at the bottom.

Spencer Hicks
Sounds good, guys. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Paul Silliman
Thank you, sir.

And that concludes another episode of the Restoration Playbook podcast. A big thank you to Spencer Hicks from CORE by KHI Restoration for bringing his wisdom and insights into this conversation. If you gained something from this episode, share it with a friend or colleague. And remember to like this video on YouTube or leave us a good rating wherever you're listening.

Hungry for more insights from the leaders in restoration? In our latest book, Winning with Workers, we unpack the principles people like Spencer are using to attract, retain, and advance top talent in the restoration industry. It's filled with actionable insights, including more ways to improve team communication, enable staff from day one combat workplace stress, and more. So head over to that's to get your free copy today and to learn more about KnowHow.

Head over to and schedule a demo with me to experience firsthand how KnowHow can amplify your workforce's efficiency, break down language barriers, and make SOP creation and updating a breeze. Once again. That's Thank you for listening in, and we look forward to sharing more restoration industry insights with you on the next episode of the Restoration Playbook. See you soon.

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