How Empowered Employees Drive Operational Excellence

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MAY 30, 2024

In this episode of the Restoration Playbook Podcast, host Leighton Healey chats with Lory Perizzolo, COO at RCCN DKI, about mastering operations and building an empowered workforce in the restoration industry. Lory recounts his storied career path and shares insights on the importance of clear communication, strategic planning, and fostering a supportive culture. Tune in to learn how to implement operational rigor and drive continuous improvement in your restoration business, straight from one of the best in the business.

Episode Transcription

Lory Perizzolo:
To sum it up in one word, empowerment is really important. We don't, we don't think we can have a really high powering team if there's micromanagement and people aren't empowered to make decisions, because if they're not empowered to make decisions on a day to day basis, It clogs up the system.

There's certain decisions you want your staff to make and there's certain things that they can't, if that's well defined at the beginning, the empowerment really, it really does go a long way.

Leighton Healey:
Hey there, this is Leighton Healey with the Restoration Playbook Podcast. Today's episode is all about mastering operations and building operational rigor. And our guest is my friend, Lory Perizzolo, one of the best in the business. He's a COO at RCCN DKI, a Canadian based DKI location that is tearing it up right at the heart of the Canadian Rockies.

He's here to walk us through the ways his organization has evolved over the years and is going to bring you some practical advice of how to bring a culture of continuous improvement to your company. So to kick things off, let's let Lory introduce himself.

Lory Perizzolo:
Thanks for having me, Leighton. And so my career started a little bit, uh, different than, I guess, everyone's career starts a little bit different than each other, but I started my career actually doing my tile setting apprenticeship in the trades years ago. Grew up in the trades.

My, my father was a tile setter and, over time I got to meet some different people like you do. And, I met a couple of people working at the insurance company side of the business in underwriting and actuarial. And I'd go for coffee with this individual and kind of learn about the industry and he seemed to really really happy with his career and what he was doing. And it seemed exciting. So one day I said, "tell me about the industry. Tell me about the insurance industry." And he kind of mapped it out on a big piece of paper and it looked like a spider web, frankly. And there were so many parts to it, whether it was claims or underwriting or, or, you know, supply chain and vendor network, the brokerage side of it.

So I ended up putting, um, registering for a night class. So I'd work during the day and I'd register for a night class. Um, In the CIP program, um, principles and practices, put that on a resume. And, back in '98, there was no Indeed or anything. So it was pounding the pavement and dropping off resumes,

Leighton Healey: Mhmm.

Lory Perizzolo:
Dropped a resume off at one of the insurance companies, got hired in a, in a claims, um, training group the next, uh, the next week. And just kind of started from the ground up. And then I was a telephone adjuster and a road adjuster. And then that kind of led to getting into the different management roles, team leadership with property adjusting teams and claims adjusting teams. And then that led into getting into a new idea at the time, supply chain and vendor management. So I, um, I started to meet some people along the way in Western Canada. That was my, my area, my scope. That led eventually into doing a little bit of independent adjusting and that led into eventually, I'm getting into a national role for vendor management for one of the national carriers. And that obviously gave me the opportunity to attend different meetings and meet some different people coast to coast. And that led me to meet a fellow named Chris Schmidt with DKI Canada. And, um, I spent and ended up spending the next three and a half or four years with the DKI Canada corporate office, in the role of Senior Vice President or Executive Vice President with Chris for, for the operations. Um, for the corporate office. And, then you fast forward to 2019 where I ended up, um, spending a bit more time, um, with Al Welton, the, the, the owner and, um, majority shareholder of the Rocky Cross group of companies in Calgary. And I was hired on as the, uh, Chief Operating Officer for the group of companies, which, which consists of obviously RCC North, um, RCC Red Deer, Calgary Contents and Total Exteriors.

And I've, uh, I've been here ever since. So that's kind of the, the Coles notes of my career from kind of '98 till 2024.

Leighton Healey:
And, looking back, if someone was to tell you, you know, when you, uh, were first going through your tile apprenticeship, you'd be, at the helm of this conglomerate. What would you have said?

Lory Perizzolo: I wouldn't have believed it.

Leighton Healey: It's amazing. It's wild, man.

Lory Perizzolo:
I went to university for, for a year after high, right after high school. And, um, didn't mind it, but I just had this, I had this urge to go and kind of figure it out on my own. Go out and start to make some money and pay bills and learn the responsibilities of life and that sort of thing.

So I kind of, I learned better personally just by doing and going out and figuring it out and then taking some education and finishing my CIP designation along the way and, and just kind of getting education that way. But I kind of found throughout my career, I kind of learned best from people around me.

And, And working together with different people and getting different experiences. And I kind of found that because I had some of those different experiences in my career, whether it was adjusting or team leadership or, or, um, the independent adjusting part, or, um, you even a little bit of project management before I came on here.

I just found that, um, especially with my time on the insurance company side in the vendor management supply chain space, they gave me a really different lens to be able to operate in, in this side of the insurance industry.

Leighton Healey:
Yeah. Well said, you know, there's a lot that we want to cover today and there's a lot of questions that I thought I want to jump into. But one of the things that, uh, I'd love to start with is, so we're talking about these eight pillars in this, uh, part of this study, we did Winning With Workers. And. We believe at KnowHow that the industry is not opportunity restrained, it's people restrained.

And that in fact, you look at the rise of catastrophic events, you look at just the, even the fact that the average consumer is not that handy anymore, that there is huge opportunity for organizations, especially, leading brands like yours and, uh, if they can get the people right. And, uh, and one of the pillars, when I think about your company, we titled it Resist Operational Entropy. And it's kind of takes us back to, you know, physics class when we were all in school and, you know, I'm not saying I did great at physics, but I remember this concept, you know, this old French philosopher in the 1790s who talked about, you know, when, when, when something, when you stop.

Giving something attention, it loses momentum, right? And I think about this industry as a, as a business that some people, people sometimes people can live in this constant reactionary mode, you know, this I'm down actually at a, at an event for catastrophe responders. I'm in Florida today. And, uh, you know, I was talking to one guy and said, do you ever find you live just constantly in that fight or flight mode?

Like you're just constantly running on adrenaline. And, uh, he's like, "yeah, that's just, that's the game." And, um, I think about, you know, you and I are both from Calgary and so there's ice in our lives and I know you guys just raised a pile of money. Congratulations for a Ronald McDonald house, um, with a hockey tournament.

And I think about,

Lory Perizzolo: It's snowing today, by the way.

Leighton Healey: Oh, well, uh, it's not here. It's, uh, it is, it is piping hot. So we should have done this interview. I should have said, "Hey, you know, we'll, we'll send the jet." So,

Lory Perizzolo: Next time.

Leighton Healey: but next time, exactly.

Uh, but in short, what I'm getting at is like a, like someone, you see them on the ice and their, and their skates are wobbly because they haven't tightened up their laces.

You know, um, this industry can get loose really quick if you're not exerting what we call like operational rigor. How do you think about that?

Lory Perizzolo:
Yeah, you, you, you've, uh, explained that and summarized that quite nicely. It is really important and, and one of the things that I think has really helped us, uh, since, since I came on board at anyways was, um, I spent the first little while and you've heard this story before, but I spent the first little while like anyone else would coming in and just, um, getting to know the people that?

were here, understanding what's working, what isn't, what kind of processes were in place. Um, so I spent, I spent the first number of weeks definitely just observing a lot and kind of learning and understanding what's, what was really happening. And after that time, like, like anyone else, I understood that there had to be some change, both in personnel, some of the tools we were using, , because to us, culture was a really, and to myself personally, culture is a really important piece of what we're trying to do in the market.

And it helps differentiate us a little bit. And people want to work with good people and they want to come to a place that's, that's the right environment. So, um, a lot of that heavy lifting was definitely done in the first couple of years. And I kind of identified, It was really important to identify who the core group of people were going to be moving forward, not just from an operational standpoint in terms of the frontline and the doers, but in terms of that operational management leadership team in terms of how are we going to, how are we going to push things forward?

Because you, as you can appreciate, you need to have, you need to have the doers, you need to have the thinkers. Kind of on both sides of the table to make sure that you're getting that buy in. Um, so in our case, it did take a couple of years to kind of iron through those bumps and just make sure we had the right people on the bus and the right people in the right seats that we're going to kind of be able to drive that, that culture forward and make sure we were the right place to help us attract other people to come in and allow us to do different things in our market.

And one of those examples is making sure that we identified the right people to to create different divisions and different service offerings like our commercial and complex division which never existed in 2019. We had a long history in the Calgary market of doing commercial and complex projects But over time we just didn't have the right people and we we eventually did identify the right people to build And grow a new team over the past two or three years, which kind of helped, helped us diversify a little bit and create that, that, um, that different service offering that we didn't have before.

Leighton Healey:
So there's, there was clearly, uh, a crossroads. Where you guys had to make some pretty difficult decisions around the team. So, you know, when I think about this idea of how do you, how do you bring more rigor to a, to a business that just naturally is, is always moving towards, I mean, chaos is not a bad way of saying it.

Like you're responding to chaos and sometimes the business can get wrapped up in the chaos, right? And, uh, So let's, tell us about that a little bit, give it, take us back in time and, and whatever you're comfortable sharing. But I think that the point that you were at a number of years ago is a point that a lot of companies are probably at right now.

And you guys made some tough decisions because it sounds like what you're saying is that creating this, this tight operational organization starts with the people. Yeah. That's true. Who run this organization. So what, what would you be willing to share? Give, uh, we'd love, you know, I'd love to take some time and just hear, just hear the story and, and how did you know change had to happen?

What did the change look like? And, and, and what's on the other side for those who are saying that sounds painful, Lory. And how would you describe what's on the other side?

Lory Perizzolo:
It was painful. It was painful for, like I said, the heavy lifting was legitimately heavy lifting because what I noticed is that there was, there were certain complacencies in certain areas. Um, there wasn't really much rhythm or predictability to some of the information that was flowing in terms of whether it was written or kind of meeting cadence or goal setting or, um, documented processes and practices. So one of the things we did right away is we reestablished kind of just, it sounds really simple, but either weekly or monthly meetings with our operational team. And when I say that, I mean all the operation team, not just, not just our project managers and their assistants, but more our production coordinators and schedulers and our in house estimators and our compliance folks and our operational leaders and that, that whole group started getting together once in a while and it was really open ended.

It wasn't, um, we, we really strategically tried to not make it a push of information to them to say, this is what we're doing. We tried to make it around the table What's working, what isn't, and we kept the meetings really concise and really brief just to say what's working, what isn't working, what haven't we tried, what should we be trying. What are you hearing in industry? What kind of tools are out there that we haven't explored yet? And we've really tried to garner that, um, that feedback flow kind of coming, coming to the management group rather than us just pushing an idea on them. So we found that really valuable. The other, the other thing we instituted was, um, again, it sounds really simple, but some of it can be hard work is actually documenting, um, documenting what your goals are for the business for the next 12 months. and doing regular follow ups and kind of displaying that on, on a, in our case, we just put it on a simple spreadsheet. We, we get together once a year in a strategic planning session every year, which, you know, you were nice enough to come out last year, so we appreciate that. And, um, we actually, that's the time where we develop our top four or five actionable Items are action plans that we want to specifically work on and, and meet or exceed for the next calendar year. And that's developed right in the room. And it's, it's an eight hour, eight or nine hour meeting. We do it as a retreat out of town. Um, and it also serves as a bit of a team building, um, event or exercise for the team. And once we have those goals established, the last half of the meeting is typically going around the room and literally looking at those goals and saying, "How do we get there? How do we develop those tactics?" And we actually document it. So we come back after the meeting and myself and our business coach, and management team, we sit down and we actually assign responsibilities and accountabilities for each of those tactics in each of those action plans. And, and we actually monitor it once a month, whoever's responsible for those items, we'll sit down and just say, Hey, how's, how's the software development going with, with DRS complete or the integration with any number of softwares?

And there's people responsible for that, or it might be something, you know, one of the goals might be to reduce our, our age receivables. How are we going to get there? What kind of different reporting do we need on a weekly basis or a monthly basis? How are we going to action it? How are we, so we actually follow up on these things.

The other thing we do kind of, that's kind of in a micro snapshot, but a kind of a bigger picture. We have that annual strategic meeting and then mid year, we just finished them last week. Um, we, we get the teams together again and we actually put up that spreadsheet for each of the groups and say, okay, green, yellow, red. Did we, did we achieve it? Are we approaching it? Are we, is it still being worked on? Did we miss the boat or did we have to switch gears? And we realized it's not possible to, to work on that goal for whatever reason. And we actually put it up on the board. And we have a touch point with the group and say, look, this is, we're holding ourselves accountable because we promised you that we would be, uh, attacking these goals that you developed and you've been helping us work on. And this kind of helps keep us accountable along with them to say, this is our progress we've made after the first six months. This is, this is why we haven't been able to do it. Or we'll ask the group, why don't you think we've been able to do it? Is there a tactic wrong and do we need to switch gears on it?

So it's kind of a constant feedback and Honestly, it's kind of putting our money where our mouth is to say, "Hey, we're, we're sticking to our goals. Are you?" And we, we try and kind of build, build that, um, kind of group accountability that way. We, we found it pretty successful. So that was kind of one, one, major thing that we, we instituted that, has paid off because it keeps us on track. And, and even if you're not hitting that goal, you're seeing the progress towards it and you're seeing that some of those tactics that you put in place actually, actually do make a difference. So it makes it tangible really. Right?

Leighton Healey:
So I'm hearing a lot in that. So let me, let me back up a bit. So I can also tell you what I'm not hearing, like what I'm not hearing what you're saying. is I'm not hearing a white ivory tower where Lory comes down and says, you know, here's the plan and, and get at it.

Right? So you're, you're enrolling, you're clearly enrolling people from the very beginning. You, you, you pulled people in. Your team to identify what's working, what's not working. And then you've got these mechanisms in place where the, you know, key team members are contributing to, to the what and how, and then, uh, and then there's a level of there's, there's a, there's a feedback loop, but there's also this, this follow up.

And, and you're enrolling them. So I think that when, when people listen to advice on how to get the business going, I think that oftentimes we stop at tactics and we don't actually take time to say, so how do I get my team on board with this?

It sounds like, like getting your team involved and not just in like a, kind of like a, you know, just like a pithy way. Like it's like, they're, they're, making material contributions. Can you speak further to that?

Lory Perizzolo:
Yeah, 100%. Just before I do that though, there's a couple things that has really worked for us and maybe it doesn't work for everyone, but when I, when I'm looking for people to join the team, one of the things that I try to relay in terms, I think it's important that people, and a lot of candidates do ask the question, they want to know what, what the management style is of the person that they're reporting to.

That's really important because people generally leave, um, Because of people or because of management. And So my, my, uh, my advice would be give, give people the tools and resources they need to get the job done effectively, empower them with whatever decision making level that you're comfortable with empowering them with. And get out of the way. Let them own their successes. Let them own their mistakes. And a lot of people, when they come in, they'll ask, um, you know, once we do some of the onboarding with HR and the paperwork and kind of day one meeting people and kind of finding their way around, they'll, uh, inevitably they'll ask, "Okay, well, what's next?" And it might sound funny, but we'll, we'll tell them, "go make some mistakes, go out there and make some mistakes and try and break what we're doing." And they're like, "What? You want me to go and mess stuff up?" I'm like, "Well, just. Go out there and try and try and break it. See, see if the system works for you and see if it doesn't. And if it doesn't work, tell us what, tell us why it isn't working and we'll, we'll, we'll see if we can kind of make some tweaks along the way." But people are, it's, it's always kind of a funny reaction 'cause people are not sure how to react to someone saying, go out there and try and go out there and try and screw it up.

Right? So, so they, they know that if they make a mistake, they're not gonna get hammered down on. It's more, it's more, more to support them and kind of. Test, test our process and make sure that we're, we're kind of on the right track. Right. And it's the same drill. Well, it makes mistakes and, and just don't make the same mistake five or six times.


Leighton Healey:
So how do you think Lory about. I think one obstacle, it's interesting. I was, I had an opportunity to kind of share, share some thoughts at an event yesterday. And one of the things that I talked about is a lot of times for companies when it's, when you, when you compare them like pound for pound with their competitor, they got the same gear, you know, they're largely doing the same service.

Um, in many ways they're working for the same carriers sometimes, you know. Um, so why is one outperform the next? And one of the things that I've observed is sometimes it's just what the owners and what the management team believes and, and, and almost like kind of what are some of their, um, call it their, their biases.

Right. And if one person believes that I got nothing to learn from my team, you know, um, or, you know, my team are a bunch of numbskulls, whereas the other person says, you know, my team has stuff to learn, but I actually think I have something to learn from them. Right. Or I think that, you know, those different mindsets I find can be, you know, they, they trickle, the trickle down of those beliefs.

I find really quite like there's some serious diversity on the, on the bottom end of those, those philosophies. So what, tell us like about your, you talk about your management style. And so I think a lot of people wouldn't even, if you ask them what their management style is, they've probably never even considered that.

So let's come back to that. But what, what is, what's going on at the leadership and maybe the ownership level that That there is a belief that, um, one, staff have a lot to contribute and two, um, you guys are confident enough in your systems that you can say something as bold as "put it to the test." Like what's underneath that?

Even just from a, I know it may sound a little soft and squishy, but like there's obviously, there's obviously something going on at the leadership ownership level that, that is, that is fueling that type of culture.

Lory Perizzolo:
For me personally, um, like I talked about that lens, uh, lens of the industry coming into this position. I had the, I had the luxury of kind of having some different roles in my career and it's allowed me to appreciate kind of what the end comes to. In a lot of cases, the insurance company or the adjuster is looking for an end. To sum it up in one word, empowerment is really important. We don't, we don't think we can have a really high powering team if there's micromanagement and people aren't empowered to make decisions, because if they're not empowered to make decisions on a day to day basis, It clogs up the system. That's kind of what we found.

There's certain decisions you want your staff to make and there's certain things that they can't, if that's well defined at the beginning, the empowerment really, it really does go a long way. The other thing we really push, we, we do, uh, we do a quarterly newsletter and all the different department heads, operational leaders, they have a chance to kind of talk about the wins and successes and challenges of the last quarter, I do a little summary, kind of, kind of a bird's eye view summary of the group of companies, and I typically try and end each one with, you know, Kind of a common theme in terms of we're not a restoration company.

We're actually a communications company. We're a customer service company That's that's kind of what we're trying to ingrain in our people and to your original question about what makes you different Everyone has the same equipment. Everyone has the same, uh, the same technologies and tools, that sort of thing It's really the people that make you different and the people with the mindset of being that proactive communicator and the, and the, um, and the company that can anticipate what your customer is looking for. That's kind of what we're trying to embed in, in kind of our culture. And, and that's why I tend to end those newsletters in that fashion to say, Hey, remember, um, We do a lot of good things out there, but never forget we're a communications and customer service company at the core. That's kind of, that's kind of what our core value is to move forward.

Leighton Healey:
Let me double click on that for a second. So. Because I, I think that goes, I think that we need to dig into that a little bit. So you said, we're not a restoration company, we're a communication company and a customer service company. So I think I'm tracking with you, but for someone that maybe heard that and just took a swig of their coffee as they're listening to this and they're driving down the road and they say, hold on a second, what did he just say?

Hold on. They're not a recon, they're not a restoration company. They're a communication and customer service company. And you're saying that In the context of having a pretty good pulse on what matters to insurance carriers. So could you add a little more color to that, Lory? I think that's, I think that's pretty significant.

Lory Perizzolo:
I wish it was a longer answer, but I think the reality of it is that service companies like ourselves, they're gonna, they're gonna need to get more work if you make the life easy the person that's calling you, and that means good communication if you, if there's a multi unit property that you're working on...

it means it means a lot of stakeholders involved. It means that communication has to be top notch. If I kind of found it for my career, if you are proactive in terms of how you communicate with people, no matter who the stakeholder is, the result ends up being positive more often than negative. So that's kind of the approach and the reason we've, we've kind of looked at it that way is communication can, can make or break your next claim.

And if communication is bad on one claim, you might not get it. You might not get a call again for a long time or ever from that person.

Leighton Healey:
And, and is that how it's always been at, at the company? Is that different than it's been? Like, is it, was that part of the shift you were describing before?

Lory Perizzolo:
We've been around since, in our case, 1981. So I believe that it's always been there. I think it just had to be, um, the focus had to be sharpened up a little bit and kind of, um, we we've tried to tackle it just from, from some different angles in terms of the teams we've built And, kind of how we, how we kind of manage a job day to day.

It's not, um, it's not. It's not cut and dry every single time as you, as you can appreciate in restoration. Um, so we try and we try and tailor things based on, based on who the client and the situation is. So it's really just more, more or less, we kind of resharpened our focus in that area.

Leighton Healey:
And, and for someone who's like, so someone who is, is hearing your advice here and they'd say, well, that is not how I would describe my company. I mean, oftentimes when I hear. Um, especially cause I think you know this, like we survey, we, we survey tons of technicians and staff and whatnot. And when you ask staff, like.

One of my favorite questions to ask staff -anonymously- is why did good people in your company quit, right? Not, not the guy that, I don't know, we kind of hired him in a storm and storm season and, and we needed a pair of hands and not, not that individual, but like people that when, when, you know, when you find out that she's packing it in, you know, Everyone on the team is like, "Oh no, are you serious? Like we're screwed."

And when you ask why they quit, the same reasons come up. One is, is that they'll say, um, it's just, it's just chaos. Like there's just, the way we do things changes based on who you talk to. Um, so difficult to get answers. You just feel like you're walking through glue. Right. And so when you're describing this enabled, this empowered worker, um, That's very different than what we hear.

The other thing that we hear is that, um, they'll say that, uh, because there's a lack of clarity, there's just a lack of alignment across the team, there's constant conflict. Cause we're always stepping on each other's toes. And, um, and it sounds like you've done a lot to combat that. Um, what's your take on that?

And, how would you advise a company that. You know, they're not experiencing that. Like they're experienced, like they're just trying to keep their head above water. And what you're describing is very foreign to them. You know, what would be your advice to someone like that who says, I need to do a big reset, Lory?

Lory Perizzolo:
Yeah, communication again. Keep saying it, but communication is key, just that open line, um, just getting to know your people, making sure it's Open door policy. It sounds easier said than done because everyone gets involved with different, you know, zoom calls or different conference calls or that sort of thing.

But generally, um, if my door is open, come on in kind of thing. And that's that's kind of the number one thing for each manager as well with their team is that, something or a concern that you'd like to talk about, come in any time, chat, talk. Um, we found for us the meeting. The usual reason people leave is because, depending on the position they're in, if there isn't an immediate opportunity to kind of grow from within, we really, we like to, our preference is to promote from within if there's opportunities.

We like to post internally first And, see what's going on. See who's interested in what, and it kind of gives us, um, gives us a chance to develop that person first instead of going, going outside. Um, that, that's typically, if, if, if there's not an opportunity within that person's own personal timeline, that's kind of the most usual reason they're, they're leaving.

And, you know, sometimes it's money, but most of the time it's usually opportunity. Um, but I can see, um, I've met a lot of people along the way where, yeah, If there isn't transparency and there isn't, there isn't that open line of communication, it does create a lot of frustration that if there isn't clear direction on a job and maybe it could be as simple as something was missing on a work order for the crew to go out that day and, and they're not seeing it so they don't do the task and the project manager thought they did it and vice versa.

So if there isn't good communication on that job, that can create a bit of conflict. So the solution for us has been to just create some, some different expectations around Getting the work orders out properly and just making sure that it's very crystal clear. And we, we encourage our project managers to join in on the, on the safety, um, tailgate meetings monthly and just making sure that they kind of have that presence and interaction with, with our, with our frontline field team. And that, that kind of. For us, at least, it's lent itself to a very open environment where people aren't afraid to talk to each other. A lead tech isn't afraid to talk to a senior project manager or a commercial project manager, or an assistant technician is not afraid to come and talk to the operations manager.

It's created that very open environment where it's not a reason for people to want to leave anymore.

Leighton Healey:
And, and if you were to, I know this is maybe a bit of a difficult question to quantify, but, you know, when you think about all of the work that you put into, you know, management meetings and alignment and getting together every quarter to see where we're at and this, this, this really thorough newsletter, these meetings where a person can, our project manager is jumping in to make sure we're all on the same page.

I mean that, what you're describing, another way of describing what you're describing is money. Like, there's, there's money being spent on, on getting people on the same page. Um, how do you think about just the return on that investment that you're making? Like how do you, how do you, how do you justify that spend in your mind?

Lory Perizzolo:
Well, year over year growth. That's, uh, that's probably the simplest and easiest when you look at your financials, if you're, if you're growing and, and, um, and things are moving in the right direction from that standpoint, that's, that's an early, that's an early indicator. But, um, I, another one for us is to tell it's working is that when we hold social events or, um, staff appreciation, things like barbecues or, um, that's, that's sort of nature type ideas is who's in the room, who's coming, who's attending. And if we're getting a good mix of people from different departments, it kind of tells me that, yeah, yeah, we're on the same page. All that effort's kind of been worth it compared to when I look back five, five years ago, you know, you might have a couple of people showing up and maybe certain certain groups not wanting to talk to other groups, So, it kind of showed me that that's a really good indicator, just a people indicator that, um, that people want to be around each other, and that's, that's important to me.

Leighton Healey:
So, so I'm hearing you say is. You're making all these changes, changes, Really what you're doing is you're, you're rolling, you're rolling with a system that you have in place. You're, you're maintaining these systems and then, um, a good indicator of whether or not people are engaged. What I'm, what I'm hearing you say is we have team social events.

It's not mandatory attendance. You know, if you don't show up, you know, if you don't show up to the, the, the, the barbecue, don't show up on Monday. Like you're, you're encouraging them to come. And then the question ultimately is who comes. And if there's a, what I'm hearing is if there's a good mix of departments, then what we're seeing is we're seeing a buy in to the way we do things company wide.

Is that a fair summary?

Lory Perizzolo: Yeah. bang on.

Leighton Healey:
Yeah. I think that that is um, it's interesting because you're, you're saying like you're at a quantitative, you know, quantitative side, you know, like, yeah. Year over year, like is the business growing? Like if it's not, if it's working, it's working. But also you're saying there's a little more of that qualitative side is, you know, you know, get a bit of a.

A vibe in the room. So let me ask you this, Lory, on the culture stuff, um, since you've, and I know this is maybe hard to ta, may, may be a little bit harder to to to, to be speak, um, dollars and cents about, but there was a state of the business. You described it years ago. I think I'm, I'm getting the 2019 vibe.

You know, there's a state when you joined the team where, um, things were different and then there's the state now. Um, what's, what would you say, like, if you were just to just describe the mood, the vibe? Um, on the team today versus then, now that you made all these changes, like how would you describe even just, just, just the mood and the atmosphere on the other side of all these operational infrastructure changes?

Lory Perizzolo:
I, I'd say back then it's, it felt, you know, no, with no disrespect to, uh, to to anyone in the past, but it felt, I guess, stale might be the right word. Like it was like people were, were kind of going through the motions and maybe there wasn't as much, um, drive or focus in pursuing different things or different accounts and it ain't broken it. You know, don't fix it kind of thing, um, compared to now I, I, I'd hazard a guess that if you asked a lot of our, a lot of our, our folks here, it's a very energized atmosphere. It's very, uh, very collaborative and that's, that's everything we've kind of pushed for is to kind of when. You know, if a big job comes in, it's kind of, everyone's running around.

It's just an energy. It's happened yesterday. We had, we had a big, uh, big job called in and it was literally just command central. It was like just everyone wanting to help out and kind of hate and people calling each other. What do you need? Can I get there? Do you need me to order something? You want me to, like, it was just, it's just, it's just a beehive of energy.

And then you come in the next morning and just, you pick up, pick up right where you left off. And there's, there's a meeting right away this morning at 6 30 to. Make sure that we were geared And ready to go and going to tackle the project with, uh, with fervor. Right. And so I'd say the best word would be, uh, just, just an energetic kind of vibe because people have the confidence.

We talked about empowerment before that led to confidence that they don't have to come and ask permission to buy a pencil or that sort of thing. Right. So we found the empowerment created confidence and that created energy.

Leighton Healey:
And what are some things that you're doing or how are you thinking about what you're doing I'm wondering like how you're playing defense, you know what I'm saying? Like, how are you, like, how are you protecting what you've built?

Like, I wonder if you'd give us any examples of like, this is, this is, if you saw Lory doing this, he's weeding, you know what I'm saying? Like he's weeding or he's shoring up the fence. And then I, and then I want to come back and I'd love to hear about like, you know, you're a, you're a systems thinker.

Like I, you know, I see you're a, you're a dot connector. And so even a great system, a person like you, I'm going to, I'm going to bet that you see lots of opportunity for improvement. And so I wonder if we could start, I'm just curious on, on, on just the operational, on this elegant machine that is, uh, the, the business that you've been working and refining.

If we were to spot you. Protecting, weeding, fencing off to, to ensure that it, it, uh, doesn't wash away. What does that look like? What are some tangible examples of how you, how you guard what you've built from an operational standpoint? It

Lory Perizzolo:
A lot of, a lot of brainstorming with my, with my key management group, we'll have, we'll have, I'd say probably every couple weeks we'll sit around, we'll sit around in one of our offices and we'll talk about what's happening in the industry, what's happening with our competitors and, you know, with, with, um, some, some of the things we've done that have really helped us is kind of making sure we're really connected to our community. Um, I kind of feel like, uh, sometimes that creates a bit of a target and I like having the target on our back. It

kind of keeps us sharp and when we brainstorm, we're always thinking about ways how do we keep the blade sharp? What do we have to do differently? We, I can tell you with 110 percent confidence that our entire team doesn't mind change at all. They don't. In fact, we constantly talk about what, why don't we do this with that position instead of what they're doing right now? How do we, how do we, how do we reallocate people to make it even more efficient? So that's what will happen when we sit down and it's usually over a coffee or a beer or something like that.

And we'll just talk about how do we keep the blade sharp and we'll talk about It might be a process, it might be a program we're using, or it might be people. In terms of which people are on the teams, for what reason? Is it working? Is it not working? And if it's not working, why isn't it working? And one of the things we will do is if, um, What one example is we had we had a position called mobile operations supervisor in one of our businesses and their role was to make sure the quality of Things like pack out and pack back and you know damage is not occurring on a property We're we're taking place kind of a quality quality control kind of position and We're only three or four months into it So one of the things we thought would be helpful is that if we did a bit of a 360 for our frontline teams that are responding or reporting to this new position. So we thought it was a good idea to kind of put a survey up to those folks to say, is this working? Are you getting the information you need? Are you getting the training you need? What are your thoughts on it so that we can validate? That the benefit of ways that costs, that's some of the stuff we'll do in the background to kind of just make sure that the changes was the right change.

And if it wasn't the right change and we're re evaluated and kind of switch gears. So we say especially, um, our, our leader of our commercial and complex division, uh, Ryan, he, he really does help push, um, he helps push me honestly to, to, to challenge the status quo and kind of keeps, keeps my blade sharp.

Does that make sense?

Leighton Healey:
Makes sense. It does make sense. You know, um, you know, the old Stephen Covey would say, you got to sharpen the saw. Even when you've, even when you're just like ripping through, you know, loads of lumber, right? You're moving, you're just moving, you still gotta sharpen the saw and it, you know, and it, um, and I'm sure that it probably comes at times with your team where, you know, the, have you, have you heard someone on your team say, "Lory, Lory, it's working. Like, why, why do we need to refine it? Why do we need to sharpen? Like it's, it's working." You know? Do you have, do you ever run into that?

Lory Perizzolo: Uh, sometimes, but my answer is exactly what you said. You got to keep the blade sharp. Can't, uh, and keep cutting through things without, uh, I mean with a dull blade, right?

Leighton Healey: Yeah.

Lory Perizzolo:
So a lot of a lot of things we'll do in the background, just, just that, that weed pulling is, is really, um, you know, it gives us a chance, especially if, you know, when things are a little bit, a little bit slower, it gives us a chance to Look at numbers and look at our financials and just make sure that there isn't any areas that are kind of getting out of whack.

And if they are, then we do a deep dive to see what might be driving it and just kind of trying to create some, you know, some, some mini action plans, if you will, around it. If we see some trending, not, not where we want it to be, we'll kind of, you know, perceivable is everyone's favorite topic in restoration.

So that's kind of an area where we kind of try and create some different, different ideas and different thoughts on how to do it better.

Leighton Healey:
Yeah. And I see that, yeah, I, I, I've had the pleasure of, yeah, I've had the pleasure of being in your facility and I've had the pleasure of meeting some of your teams. Heck, I've had the pleasure of going to one of your fundraisers and, uh, um, yeah. It's, it's, uh, you know, I, I see what you're describing and I see, like, I see, you know, the, the light in your team members' eyes and they're, you have a really dialed in team.

So for someone, you know, I wanna take. I want to take the, you know, the, as we start to kind of, you know, land the ship here, I want to ask you some specific questions because I think at this point, it's pretty clear to anyone who's just receiving this information that you guys have gone through a state change, that, uh, there's been some catalytic leadership decisions made that have just breathed new life into things.

Um, and so, Someone who's listening to this and say, Hey, Lory, I want to start to experience, you know, I know what that stale feeling is like, you know, and some people, if they're bold enough, they ain't be like, I'm there now, like, that's what's going on. Like, I see how people are sitting in the, in the parking lot, taking a moment.

Before they come into the office, because I know what they're thinking. They're thinking it's going to be another grind today. Right. And I'm going to put up a so and so and I see their vehicle in the parking lot. And so there's people who I think are hearing that they recognize they need to make some changes.

So what would be the first steps? Like if someone wanted to bring more order, more, more rigor to their operations in this business, where would you advise them to start?

Lory Perizzolo:
What, what helps, what's really helped us over the years is that it's, it's one thing to have that relationship with, with your team day to day. Um, but sometimes the message can get stale and it's not that they're tuning out the voice, but sometimes they need a different voice to extract the information that you need to help make the change. Um, so in our case, we, we worked with the business coach for, for over a decade. That has really proved to be invaluable for us. He helps, um, he's, he's helped me a ton in my career in terms of kind of rounding out on the restoration side and, And he participates, um, in our strategic meetings and the planning as we lead up to it, he helps participate in the facilitating of it, but there'll be times where if I think something's getting stale, I'll actually ask him to, I'll give him some questions that I want to answer. And he'll have some private interviews in the 101s with different people in different departments, just to pull out some information and, and that helps us kind of take the next step and kind of, um, create some confidence in, in kind of some of the decisions you have to make. Some of them will be, will be hard decisions for sure. Um, but for someone feeling stale, I'd say the best advice is to kind of think of different ways to get the information out than you've been, than you've been trying over the last year. Whatever it's been months, years, decades, and, um, and not be afraid to take a, take a bold step and try something different.

Some of it, some of it might cost money. Um, a lot of it doesn't. Um, but a lot of it, I think really kind of comes down to just, um, making sure you have those open lines with your people and getting the information that, uh, that you think is going to help affect change. And sometimes, sometimes some of the changes are easier and it's just a matter of just, Taking that step off the cliff and just doing it. The worst thing that's going to happen, I mean, depending on the decision, of course, the worst thing is you peel back the decision. The change doesn't work and you try something different and you try something different until until one of the changes you make is the right decision for your operation, depending on what your size is, right?

Leighton Healey:
And no, no doubt. You know what I'm hearing underneath that, like you're describing this, you're describing this like tenacity, you know, um, to just keep coming at it. And I think it's fair to say, like, what I'm, what I'm getting underneath this is what's driving that is there is clearly a desire to win, you know, you know, I, you know, I picked, I picked up on it, you know, you're talking about your competitors and, and, uh, you know, Uh, like I, uh, I'm, I'm getting the vibe that your team, they like to win, they enjoy winning, and there's the pursuit of the, like, there's the pursuit of the win.

So what's powering all these changes is, like, what I'm getting the vibe is we want to be great. We want to be the best. Um, is that, is that a fair, am I, am I, am I, I don't think I'm misreading the situation there.

Lory Perizzolo:
No, and maybe that is, I mean, anyone that's played on a team sport or sports in general is, it's kind of a, it's a hard switch to flip off. Losing isn't fun. Losing gives you a bad feeling and, and winning, uh, you want to keep winning, right? And it's, I think, um, I think for us internally, we've created that kind of, that healthy competition, especially with the DKI Canada network, in terms of kind of what, what is our performance like?

We, we get regular displays of information for our entire network across DKI Canada, in terms of what are our KPIs and how do we compare against. our region, our province. How do we compare against all the other members in Canada? And we have people in our office that have taken ownership, ownership of it to such a level that, um, they, they live and breathe it every day.

So it's all about being on, on the top of that, that group within, within our network, at least. And, uh, it takes, it's clear they take pride in it and just the communications you see every day talking about it and how we can get better, even though we're already, we already have a good score, they're talking about how do we get better, even though. Even a work of average. How do we keep getting better?

Leighton Healey:
Yeah, well said. So, so how do you, how do you ensure that when you bring someone new on the team, like how are you ensuring that they are properly onboarded and kind of integrated into this, this system that you built?

What does that look like for you?

Lory Perizzolo:
For us, I'd like to say a whole bunch of the onboarding is documented, but it's not. It's more, we make sure when someone comes in, we have a schedule of who they're going to meet, when, and why. And we have touch points kind of after each of those meetings to kind of make sure that they, that that is sunk in, that they, that they got the information they need. Um, we do a lot of, depending on the position obviously, a lot of it is pairing up with people to kind of get out, get out in the field or spend, spend time with different people in the office to kind of understand the whole picture. Um, and we make sure just, just the simple things, just the interpersonal part, just making sure that they're comfortable with everyone in, in the building and in the environment and making sure that they meet who's who in the zoo and they get, they're, they're really comfortable.

The first week is really about just making sure they're really comfortable, they're getting a good vibe. Maybe take them for lunch or something with a few people just to kind of welcome them into the team. But really the operational success with our onboarding is really about the people that have been here for a while and their willingness to kind of put them under their wing and kind of teach them the things they need to know and making sure they understand what support levels, uh, levers exist in the business in terms of, We have a few different ways we can do things when running a project. Some of it can be true to choose your own adventure, but they're all different processes that we have embedded into our business. They just need to understand which lever to pull and when and it's their choice on kind of how they want to shape their kind of file management system.

Leighton Healey: Yeah, well said.

Okay, Lory, I've got four closing questions for you. So we'll call it the rocket fire round. You've made a very strong case that what's on the other side of all this, you know, you use the term pain earlier, you said it was painful. So what's on the other side of all this pain is, you know, it's life.

Like you've built this very living, breathing, uh, company that's creating this fulfilling, High performance environment that people clearly love being part of. So if someone who wants to implement similar systems into their operations, like they want to start to, to move towards this, this, this, this greater rigor in operations, that actually is, is funny.

The funny thing about operational rigor is that when you do it right, it's not restrictive. It's empowering. It's funny. It's like, it's like this counterintuitive thing. What advice would you be like, what, what are some things that someone should, okay. You know, stop doing this, start doing this. Like, what would be your snap response to that?

Stop doing this, start doing this.

Lory Perizzolo: Stop procrastinating, start deliberately planning.

Leighton Healey:
And where should they invest? If you were to say, look, put cash in this, put your money where your mouth is in this area.

Lory Perizzolo:
People and technology. people people first. Good people want to be around good people And good people are worth investing in.

Leighton Healey:
And then last question is, um, all of this boils down, like, you know, I think you and I both believe, like, this is a people business. And, um, actually one thing, Lory, let's get us, I know it's to you. It's like, it's, it's, it's simple. Actually to me, it's very profound. You're like, no, I'm not a restoration company.

I'm a customer service, a communication company. And, uh, it doesn't surprise me that you guys have a conglomerate of companies, because as soon as you say, these are the two things we're good at. I mean, heck you guys could dominate any vertical, right? So that's pretty exciting. But if you could teach leaders one thing about attracting and retaining talent, In this industry, in property restoration, what would it be?

Lory Perizzolo:
It's about the right, it's about the right people. Take your time in making sure you're bringing on the right person to fit the culture that you've built or are building. That's the most important thing. We've, we've learned over the years that someone you might not have the most experience or the right skills, but if the personality and attitude is there and there's alignment in terms of what your vision is. Um, that's, that's the person you want to invest in because they're probably going to be around a while. You know that you, you'll probably develop or have a, um, a high level of trust in that person to, to, to be empowered and you want people to, to own what they're doing. And it sounds, it sounds kind of funny, but if, if, if everyone around you owns what they're doing, it makes your life a heck of a lot easier.

Leighton Healey:
Well said. And I think that that is, uh, what a lot of people want. Is they, they, they, they want to have a life, you know, as a manager, as a leader, as an owner, where, you know, as the old adage is, they want to feel like they're working on a business, not just running in the business all day.

And, uh, it sounds like you've had some success getting there, Lory. Hey, there's so much we could dig into. Um, but you're a busy guy and you, you run an impressive business. So thanks for taking the time to unpack all this and thanks for being so generous with your, with your playbook about how you do this.

And I know that, you know, this is, this is a, this is a, uh, this is a process in motion for you guys. And, uh, I have the unique opportunity to actually, you know, be in the city that you operate in. And every time I see your trucks, uh, zipping by, which I see often, I know that, uh, that they're going, uh, and wherever they're going, they're going to do a good job.

So, so thanks for, um, giving us some of your wisdom today.

Lory Perizzolo:
No, appreciate the opportunity and always, always a pleasure chatting with you and feel free to stop by anytime.

Leighton Healey:
Well, that's all for this month on the Restoration Playbook Podcast. Thanks for tuning in. Subscribe to KnowHow wherever you're listening so you don't miss out on all the road tested advice from top operators in your industry. You can read more about Lory and his advice on R&R. Just head to or find the link in our show notes. We'll talk to you next month.

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