How to Improve Customer Experience with Technology

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JULY 4, 2024

In this episode of the Restoration Playbook Podcast Leighton Healey welcomes Keegan Trudgen, multi-location owner at PuroClean Disaster Services, to discuss how technology can improve the restoration experience. Tune in and discover how Keegan integrates new tools to enhance customer experience and job satisfaction, and gain insights into his methods for creating a consistent customer experience.

Episode Transcription

Keegan Trudgen:

The end customer is looking for you to restore their property, okay?

They don't care if on what your P&L looks like for your company. They just want to have their, they want to have their property restored. They want to know the process. They want to be in the know. They want to have a seamless process because they've never done this before, and their life is a mess at that time.

They don't care about all the other stuff that goes into running a property damage restoration company. And if you can focus your efforts on that, I feel that you're going to be successful.

[00:00:36] Leighton Healey: Welcome to the Restoration Playbook Podcast. Today, we're joined by Keegan Trudgen, multi location owner at PuroClean Disaster Services, to discuss how to bring technology into the worker's hands and how it helps them improve customer experience, job satisfaction, and more. To kick things off, I wanted to give Keegan an opportunity to introduce himself and talk about the experiences that have brought him to the position that he's in.

Let's dive in.

[00:01:02] Keegan Trudgen: My name is Keegan Trudgen. My partners and I own 10 PuroClean franchises in four different states currently, five different metro areas. Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and, Texas. We've been with PuroClean for a little over 10 years, like 11 years now, almost, in August, it'll be 11 years, so, um, about myself, so I'm originally from the Midwest, Michigan, and I studied finance in college.

 After college I went to work for Intel, and um, that is a great organization. Uh, in the early 2000s I worked there, and uh, that formed a lot of my understanding of how business is done and how business can be done.

 They really turned over every rock, in their processes to really optimize everything. After that, I got a little homesick, so I moved back to the Midwest, uh, back to Chicago and um, worked for a few companies there, a smaller. Company called, Follett and that's integral because it's where I met my future business partner, Matt Toucheband.

And, um, I worked there. I worked for Morgan Stanley. I worked for Discover, uh, financial services. And along the way, I helped a few friends with their, their entrepreneurial ventures. Oh, and then during that time I got my MBA from Northwestern because, you know, why not? I add more tools to the toolbox.

That was a great experience. So, um, So in 2012, I was at Discover. I was running their, um, running a portion of their market research group. And, uh, we were trying to win the J. D. Power Award for customer. service. And, if you've ever taken an hour long survey about your credit card, uh, it's as boring as you think it would be.

So, um, nothing against that. Some people love doing that, but it wasn't for me. And I called up my buddy, Matt Tuchman, who I worked with at Follett, who had started a PuroClean franchise. And I said, "Hey, uh, who got you into that business? Because I think I'd like to, uh, Go do my own thing. It's about time."

I have all the tools I need and I was in a good spot. So called him up and he said, "um, well, I'll give you the business broker's name. He's a great guy, but my wife got a job at the Home Depot in Atlanta and, um, we're moving to Atlanta. Do you want to buy my business?" And I said, "no, I don't want, I don't know anything about your business.

I'm not going to just go ahead and buy it." So he, um, he, we came to an agreement. He said, "how about, uh, how about you manage the business?" And uh, I said, "sure, I'll manage it. I'll see if I like it. If I like it, maybe I can buy it at that time. Uh, if not, I can go do something else. Right?" So that was the plan.

Um, I got into the business in 2012 and fell in love with the industry. Uh, I really like that you're, you're helping people. My, my family's in kind of the medical healthcare field. My one sister's a doctor. My other sister's a, a nurse anesthesiologist. So yeah. Really, um, medical focused, helping people. And, um, anyway, I fell in love with the industry.

I thought it's, I think, I still believe it's a great industry to be in, um, from the economic standpoint of it. And, um, anyway, so here we are, the one thing, I guess, this is my chance to brag, the one thing that. Um, is kind of what I'm known for at PuroClean, at least, is that in, um, shortly after I started, I had this crazy idea of opening a second location.

And at the time, um, all PuroCleans were just single locations. So I put together a presentation, you know, showed it to Steve White, Mark Davis, uh, of the executive team and said, "Hey, I think we should let PuroClean Franchises get another location. And here's the benefits to the franchisee. Here's the benefits to PuroClean."

Uh, and that has been super successful. Um, I think it's like 60 some franchisees now own multiple units based on that presentation that I, I put forth. And it was all because, it was all because I wanted to service, um, clients down in the southern part of Chicago. We're in the northern part of Chicago. And, uh, it just made sense to me if we're local, if we're involved in the community, if we're rapid response to be closer to my customers.

And, uh, the reason to open one down there is because. If I were to go and just market our services, they would, they would say, "where are you from?" Uh, you know, they cheer for a different baseball team down there on the south side than they do the north side So anyway, so that's that's kind of a little bit about me Um, I don't want to know anything else anything else you want to know?

[00:06:25] Leighton Healey: Hey. There's a lot there and, uh, and, uh, I'm very satisfied with what I found under that rock because, uh, yeah, I, I knew that you had, um, I knew about the experience with Intel and we'll talk about John Doerr and all this stuff in a second here, right? And I bet, you know, you, I bet a lot of people look at your business, Keegan, and they say, Oh man, like this guy's building an empire.

And I bet you look at it and you probably feel pride, but I bet you see lots of opportunities for improvement and optimization. And so just could you give us like, um, could you give us just an example of some of the projects that you're working on that you're excited about that you think hold a lot of opportunity for your, your network of locations?

[00:07:12] Keegan Trudgen: Yeah, so You know, we're in we're in five metro areas and You know, this industry is so big that, you know, if we got 1 percent market share in any of those, we'd be, you know, we'd be 10X our size. I mean, the industry is just so, so huge from a, from a standpoint, if you think of all the claims that insurance carriers pay out, if you just look at the insurance, You know, not even like self pays from property management companies or whatnot.

Um, that's a, it's just a huge market, right? And then the other, the other thing is, um, if you look at, at expansion into all the markets, You know, within, I don't know, three or four hours of any place we are now, that is a major population center, like, I don't know, 150, 000 population or more. It's just, you know, we could put tons more dots on the map to service way more, um, communities.

Um, that we're not in right now. So just using, using our processes and technology that we'll, we'll talk about in a minute, um, to, to take those best practices and just, just copy exactly. So when I worked for Intel, I worked in the manufacturing, um, division with all the huge fabs in Arizona and in all over the world.

And they had a copy exactly mindset. So you could take any technician and put them in, blindfold them, fly them wherever, put them in any fab, they could walk in and know exactly where everything is. They could do the same exact job. At any location because they were built a hundred percent identical.

[00:09:12] Leighton Healey: That's interesting. Yeah. I didn't know that. Yeah. And so, so what you're telling me is that all 10 locations. You've built them exactly the same.

[00:09:21] Keegan Trudgen: Well, we tried

[00:09:23] Leighton Healey: I know. Well,

[00:09:25] Keegan Trudgen: we're still trying to get there, right. We're, we want to make sure that the process is, um, as similar as possible. And the, the, you know, the other interesting thing and kind of idea that I've been thinking about, and this might be another chapter in your book. In your book but the question is, how do you create a great customer experience?

When you are not controlling the, the, where you're doing the work at, right? So you are going in our industry, we go to the job and we have no control over what we're going to find. Um, so every job is, is different and there's, there's a lot of differences. But the end result in a lot of aspects has to be the same, right?

Because people expect consistency and that's how you deliver a great customer experience time after time is if the end result is consistency, they'll love it, right? And your customer could be the property. It's, well, it's all three. It's the property owner, it's the insurance carrier or whoever's paying the bill, and it's, it's whoever referred you to work, right?

Those three, um, stakeholders really want a consistent experience every time.

[00:10:51] Leighton Healey: you know, um, that's a great topic. So, so, so I'm very bullish on companies that optimize for, for customer experience. I think the customer is the. Is the dance partner for contractors to be able to keep the market balanced in the, in the, in the, in the flood of private equity and carrier dynamics right now.

I think that, uh, so, uh, man, I'm like, okay, I'm going to try to manage our time here to leave some time for that because I'm very hot on that. And you know, my, and I know you, I mean, I can just give me your reaction to this because you think about this, I think about this, I think that one of the things that is common is that a customer, or let's call it a policy holder or property holder, whether they're commercial or residential, um, they don't have that many losses. You know, unless you live in Florida, you know, maybe have like three, but most people may only experience one to maybe two, significant property damage claims, maybe one significant catastrophic loss in their life.

And so I see the project manager evolving into more of like a guide, you know, more of someone who, who educates the customer on how things go, because they don't know how it goes. And so that ability to be a tour guide, um, tour guide is probably a little bit, um, to, um, more of a, kind of a, kind of a throwaway term, but I think that, I think that you, you're probably picking up what I'm putting down that it's, it's someone who can come alongside and, you know, you mentioned that you have these interesting medical professionals in your family.

Me too, actually. And I love it when, I don't know about you, if this happens in your family, but like the medical professional people in my family, they love to be the one that explains the board game. They just love teaching me the board game because they just love the intricacy of how everything fits together.

And I find that especially if they've learned that to have fun, everyone has to have fun. Like if you want to have fun, everyone's got to have fun. And so to come in and uh, and with the right amount of empathy and the right amount of professionalism and the right amount of tact come in and say, Look, I realize this is a terrible situation, but we have an opportunity, we can take a very kind of white glove experience where we can guide them through this experience.

And as they look back in hindsight, they can say, yeah, they really. Um, like they could, there was a lot of crossroads where they could have gone shady, but they chose to, to really walk me through this and do an honorable thing. Um, so I, I, uh, and that's where, you know, we have the data that shows that, you know, in the, in the recent years, over 60 percent of new entrants into the industry are women. And, uh, we'll talk about enabling technology, but I also think that enabling technology is removing some of the barriers that are commonly. Referred to like stereotypical kind of male endeavors, male activities. And when you pair, you know, uh, women who I think, I think we can all agree, probably are more oriented to taking care of more of that compassionate relationship side type experience.

And you bring that into a company like yours, Keegan, who care about. Not just the service, but the experience of being serviced. Um, man, I think it's just like, I think, you know, it's just ripe with opportunities and referrals and loyal customers and what's your reaction to that? 

[00:14:11] Keegan Trudgen: No, we, we have, and I won't, I won't name names here. Um, cause I don't want to blow up their, their ideas, but we work a high end insurance carrier and they actually are thinking about that too. And we, we had conversations with them because you're right. Uh, homeowner, policy holder, commercial, residential, whatever.

This is probably the first and only time they've ever had a loss. And they don't know what to do, and it's a crazy situation. And they got all, they have all this stuff being thrown at them. Their, their lives or livelihood is in disarray and it's just a chaotic experience. And this insurance carrier is thinking about putting in place, and again, they're a high end insurance carrier, a concierge service to help in the, for the sole purpose of walking the person, being the one stop shop that they can call for any question on the claim.

Right. Oh, hey, who is this? Who is this textile company? What do they do? Like, what do they do versus the contents company, versus the mitigation versus the asbestos abatement? Why are all these people doing this? You know, and I've never had this before. You know, why doesn't this, why isn't this going quicker?

You know, I saw, I saw on HGTV, they put a house together in 30 minutes and, you know, all these, all these questions. And we've actually, I've actually done, uh, some primary research with Northwestern University on the customer journey, the moments of truth and the, and the, for homeowners, and we just did it for homeowners, cause it's a, it's an easier population to survey, uh, who had a loss.

They've never been through it. And they didn't, they really did not know where to go at the beginning. There was kind of like a deer in a headlight, so.

[00:16:07] Leighton Healey: Interesting. 

One of the books that we wrote, uh, we released this book last fall and, uh, so I got it right here. It's called, it's called, well, it's called, uh, Winning with Workers. Right. And, uh, if there's one thing that, uh, that we're passionate about, we like people powered businesses, industries where, you know, um, it is people who show up and, and do the work.

Um, and, uh, and what we've learned is that those people are changing. You know, their, their preferences are changing, um, the way they think about, uh, particularly being supported and guided, um, the way they, they think about confidence and being confident in the role, um, is different. And, uh, and sometimes the language that they prefer to work in is different.

But one of the things that we identified in that book is eight pillars. You could identify more, but we, we really narrowed it down to eight pillars. And we said, where we see these pillars at, in play. Uh, we see thriving workforces, or at least companies who seem to be getting, outsized, results with the workforce as compared to companies that have, uh, ignored those pillars.

And one of those pillars, we titled it, Build a Bionic Workforce. And so bionic referring to, you know, take a human and kind of enhance them with technology and systems. And, uh, And to be able to get more productivity out of them, I think get more buy in out of them. 

And when I was, when we were thinking about what would be a great company to spotlight, I thought of you. And so, uh, I appreciate you taking time to read the chapter. What was your impression? What stood out? 

[00:17:46] Keegan Trudgen: Well, funny of you to ask. So, um, so our, our industry, just like every other industry is evolving quickly. Right. I, I, uh, mentioned to you last time we spoke, um, this episode from Planet Money, the future of work looks like a UPS truck. I don't know if you listened to it, but

[00:18:09] Leighton Healey: Yeah, I got into

[00:18:10] Keegan Trudgen: went back to that and that aired May 2nd, 2014.

So that was 10 years ago. Okay. Um, and that was looking back 10 years, uh, for that industry, right? And they said by, by partnering technology with with individuals, they were delivering 100 percent more packages during a day during peak season. So like during the holiday season. So they were, they went from 100 to 150 packages per day to 200, right?

And since that has come out, they have, UPS and other logistics companies have introduced Robotic AI loading of trucks, you know, so imagine, you know, so now instead of going out and be able to do one load truck load, they're doing one and a half, two truck loads, right? The same person, right? So, um, in our industry, 10 years ago, you, you were hand sketching a room.

Now, you might, the sophisticated people, maybe they took the, took their laptop out to the, to the loss and, and did it right there on the laptop. But now, our technicians are taking a, a 360 camera, they're standing on one side of it, pressing a button, standing on Another side of it, pressing a button and, you know, minutes to hours later, they have a full detailed sketch.

That's very accurate. And the best part about that is we talked about consistent customer experience and think about this for the billing or the insurance side, no matter who you send out to that loss, if you use that process, you're going to get the same exact result. So like you were saying, the technician, the skills of sketching used to be important.

Hey, do you know how to, how rooms are laid out and sketching and doing this stuff in Xactimate? Now the technician or the project manager, whoever's there is more interacting with the customer, interacting with the insurance carrier saying, Hey, here's what we're seeing. Here's our plan of attack. Here's how long this is going to take.

They're spending more, they're able to spend more time on those value added services than, um, we were able to 10 years ago by far. And if you look forward 10 years. I think that we're just continue, going to continue with AI to really leapfrog and be able to take very quick measurements, have it spit out, Hey, not only, not only is this what the room size is, but here's what our, our next steps are, our, our recommended steps based on the category of water, what the materials impacted, the amount impacted.

And it could probably spit out a, Hey, here's a very accurate estimate, right? So then the policy holder and the insurance carrier could have a better conversation, especially as, uh, insurance deductibles increase. They can say, Hey, you know, this is going to be below my deductible. This is going to be above my deductible.

Should I file a claim? Should I get insurance involved? There's a whole bunch of, there's a whole bunch of things that hopefully Um, that will enable. So it even furthers that conversation and having that, that frontline worker, as we call them, a technician project manager, have more of those soft skills, right?

And, and to your point and to the medical field, explaining why we're doing what we're doing, what's the benefit, and kind of giving an accurate assessment of here's what's going to happen.

[00:22:26] Leighton Healey: So let me ask you a follow up question and I, I, uh, maybe you can give us a little bit of, um, your method because. I think the average person in this industry recognizes that there's, there are new things, there's new tools. Um, but what I've also recognized is that, um, so many individuals are so, uh, let's call it just engrossed in just running the business.

You know, uh, Michael Gerber, I think was attributed with the one who said, "you have to move from working in the business to on the business." And, uh, sometimes I'll say you need to be able to kind of put the periscope up, like up periscope and look around a bit because it's clear that what you are doing is you are, you have some type of a method for being able to, I mean, you, you brought tools, use the term tools, like I brought tools with me.

To the business. But, um, those tools, um, are, are certainly valuable because, you know, as you've encountered ch challenges, obstacles, you know, you, you, you've been able to reach for the respective, um, skill or tool. But, uh, one of the things I've, I've, I've noticed is that companies that seem to be very technologically savvy, they seem to have three.

like gears that they have refined. And I wonder how you think about this is that they, I think underneath these three gears, they have, they've created enough operational, um, let's call it enough of an operational rhythm. We use the term in the book, they've learned how to resist operational entropy. So they've, they've been able to get above the business, even just a little bit.

And so they, they actually have the airspace to recognize, um, They have figured out how to implement it and then they figure out how to optimize it and maintain it because I've, I've seen companies that don't have the space to even have airspace to recognize a solution. And if they do recognize it. Few have the ability to actually implement it effectively.

And once they have implemented it, I find that there are fewer yet who know how to, um, maintain it and then optimize it. And by optimize it, I mean like really get the horsepower to that sucker. Um, how do you think about that? Because as a very tech savvy leader, and also as a very tech savvy group of companies, um, you've obviously had to be able to the business to a point where you can kind of get your head above it.

You have to, you've obviously been able to recognize and kind of triage back to medical, right? Triage opportunities. And then you've had to implement and you've had to optimize and maintain. Tell me about how you approach that. And maybe give me it from, as the advice of someone who's just stuck in it right now.

And they're like, man, I don't even have time to think about this stuff.

[00:25:23] Keegan Trudgen: Yeah. So so first of all, it's a lot easier now to get started than at any other time. Right. There are, there are great tools in our industry, um, that can help you. Yeah. And I, uh, I know, uh, a fellow PuroClean franchisee just, uh, implemented their first, you know, set of tools and they're like, wow, this is, this is amazing, right?

So start small. I would say for anyone start small. And just embrace it a little bit. So you see if it can help you. And it's not about making gigantic, you know, system wide, everything has to be systematized, right? Just do one piece and see the benefits from that one piece. And then say, okay, well, great.

That made my life a lot better or gave me an hour a day. If it gives you one hour a day to do something else or kind of get out of those weeds, like you were saying, and get up a little bit to see what's going on, that's huge. An hour a day is huge. I mean, that's, that's huge. I don't even know how many, that's a lot of hours a year.

So, you know, and then you just keep incrementally doing that. So that's, that's how we did, you know, we said, hey, what's out there that can help us sketch? Okay. We use DocuSketch. Other people use Encircle, Matterport, whatever. It's a, At the end of the day, it's a way to automate and standardize your sketching process, because that was a pain point.

And then we use, you know, other systems to, to help us or other, other technologies to help us. And I think if you do that and you just start down the path, you're going to, you're going to see that things are one, they're easier than you think they're going to be. Two, they'll help you. Maybe they won't, won't help you as much as the salesperson says they'll help you, but they'll help you more than maybe you thought they would help you.

And just get started and then see, and see where it fits in in your processes and go from there.

[00:27:38] Leighton Healey: So let me ask you what I think are most common follow up questions. So how do you get your staff to use it?

[00:27:47] Keegan Trudgen: Well, this industry is full of young people. They, they are used to mobile devices and everything. So, um, they, they embrace it a lot. I think, I think a lot of people, even, even our older workers embrace it more than you think they might, right? A lot of people self reflect and, and as a owner or someone you might say, oh, this is a, a pain in the butt, I wouldn't want to do this, but if you introduce it, and Especially if you introduce it to new people.

They don't know anything different, right? If I, I have art people who use, use DocuSketch. Um, if I told them to go sketch it, they'd be like, this is dumb. You know, why don't we just use the camera thing? You know? So it, it takes some, you gotta, and you gotta give your, forgive yourself a little bit, it's not, everything's going to work right.

The first time you got to practice it, you got to refine it a little bit. It's okay. Give yourself some leeway to. To screw up here and there. You've, if you're running a business, I'm sure you've screwed up somewhere along the line. I know I have. So

[00:29:01] Leighton Healey: Yeah. And what about, um, you, you referenced it. I mean, so you have this contrast of young workers, kind of this groundswell. of young workers coming in. We see that, you know, Gen Z, um, kind of 13 to 24, most demographers would say, um, you know, they, they, most of them don't have a memory of a version of the world without instantaneous answers, um, easy, you know, user interface, um, applications.

Um, and so you're right. I think where we, we see a lot of people, um, kind of get, um, Oh, gummed up is oftentimes the people who own the process or let's call it are accountable for the outcome of the process, um, are more senior staff. And uh, senior meeting, been there for longer. Um, but uh, have you, have you found, uh, any effective methodologies of, of being able to, to get some of your more experienced staff to not just begrudgingly use the technology, but actually become champions and proponents for the technology and even optimizers of the technology?

Have you, have you found anything has really shifted mindsets or behaviors, Kinkin?

[00:30:16] Keegan Trudgen: it's, it's very individualized, right? Because you're right. Every, there's a lot of individuals in your company that are responsible for one piece or the other. And. We've gotten all of them on it, and it's like an individual journey for a lot of people, right? So some people may embrace one thing or another, but I think they have all embraced, and we lead, right?

So we say this, this is a good tool, we think it will help. We're not doing this to make your lives harder. We're doing this to make your lives easier and bring more value to you, have a better life. job experience, right? Because who wants to sit there in a, in a burnout house and try and sketch it when you can just go in and, you know, get, get measurements, you know, electronically or whatnot, right?

So we want it to be a better experience for them. And they, they understand that. And when you're leading that way, I think people jump on board the train a little bit easier than if you yourself are like, Oh, you know, they're making us use this Dang thing. I don't know how it works, right? Type thing. But, um, yeah, and we, we encourage people to, to mess around and, and it's okay to fail, right?

It's okay to, hey, I tried this and it didn't work out. So I had to go do it this way. Okay, cool. That's how you learn a lot of times.

[00:31:43] Leighton Healey: Right. Let me, let me, um, it made me think about, um, some research that we did. So, um, uh, prior to, uh, winning with workers, we, uh, published a book called Why Workers Quit. This is like massive. It's like the largest workforce study ever done on property restoration. And, uh, And one of the things that we asked, uh, we, of all the research, it's one of my favorite questions.

Um, and we, and we, we kind of say kind of tongue in cheek, you know, it's a very, uh, you know, anonymous survey, but we say, why did good people in your company quit? Like what? Regrettable turnover, right? Like why do good people in your company quit? Not you, right? But confidentially, like when, when someone walks out the door and you're like, Oh no, we're screwed.

Like, I can't believe she packed it in. Right. Um, and they list all these reasons, but among those most common reasons, I mean, the most common reason is management. I don't think that will surprise you. Um, we've all heard some form of the adage that, you know, people don't quit companies, they quit people. Um, but, uh, one of the most common things, especially for like tip of the spear field based staff, it's just tedious work, right?

Just like, almost like, you know, you, you made that interesting comment where you said, you know, Young people introduce technology day one, they don't know any different. Like for them, this is just, this is just the way you do the job. And so you show them the manual process and they're like, that's crazy.

It's like, it's like learning that your parents never buckled you in in the backseat of the car. Right. It's like, what, you know? Um, but at the end of the day, we're talking about tedious elements of the role where tech savvy workers are just looking at the industry or they're looking at their manager or boss.

And they're like, you want me to do what? Right, like there's not a better way to do this. And they have to keep coming at it. And it's just like, uh, sometimes I refer to it as just like, like just getting paper cut at the death, you know? Um, so how do you think about that? Because you've got young workers, you're a very progressive, uh, business owner.

Um, What do you think about that? Like this idea that, that workers quit often because, um, they just think that the business is just tedious and old school and there's so many, what seems like just unintuitive steps, what's your reaction to that?

[00:34:16] Keegan Trudgen: So one thing I highlighted here in the chapter is for individuals who grew up with seamless and bug free experiences on apps like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, encountering poor software in their professional lives can be infuriating, right? And it can be. So, and And I would challenge any, all the software manufacturers in this industry to get it together, right?

Um, because, uh, because, you know, a lot of, we have some really good, we have some really good software in this industry, but we have some other software that's just, it's just not there yet, you know, and, and it's not just this industry. There's a lot of, there's a lot of industries. Who was it I was talking to?

Oh, I was trying to pay my medical bill online and for my daughter and they said, "Oh yeah, you're not, you're not on there. You have to write in that you need to add her to do." And I'm like, what? I need to do what? To pay my daughter's. I'm like, so my fame, my famous thing is I'm like, you know, Google, they make this car that drives itself.

Go to trykKnowHow. com. Right? And I have to write. So that's kind of what people's frame of reference is now, right? The seamless, bugless things that just work. And when they don't work, they're like, this is, this is dumb, right? Because they have this experience. So, it's very interesting. So I have young children and And my, my daughter who's seven, she will not talk to you on the phone.

If you're not on FaceTime. To her, the phone does not work. So she'll just hand it back to you and be like, it's broke. I don't know. It's broke. I can't see grandma. Right. But that's the experience that people are, are, um, are living with. I was thinking about that. And I remember when I was younger. Our TV went out, like the picture went out, but you could still hear the sound.

And my grandfather was like, yeah, just listen to the sound. It's like a radio. And I'm like, no, it's broke, right? So, so yeah, if you have a broken TV, it's infuriating, right? And when you have, when you have manual processes that don't make sense to younger people who live in this world of self driving cars.

and ChatGPT and all this stuff. When you can't flip a picture on your CRM, it's like, are you, what the heck are you guys doing? I mean, it's just, I've seen it and I've, I've experienced it myself. It's just so infuriating. So I would challenge all the software providers out there in this industry to really get it together and really hone in and focus on the customer experience, the user experience on all these, uh, systems, apps, websites, whatever we're using to do our jobs.

[00:37:23] Leighton Healey: Yeah, hey, 

that is a call to action and, I rub shoulders with a lot of the software vendors and technology vendors and, in the world of economics, you know, it's all about incentives, right? All about tradeoffs And I think one of the things I comment on that was very impactful for me

is to really study the, the preferences that are hardwired. And I, I, I really believe they are now hardwired into the average consumer for that, that, uh, that are established through interacting with consumer technology and, and the statement that I've, I think I picked it up from somebody was that, uh, you know, just list the big five, you know, the Facebooks, I guess the Meta now, the Amazon, the Googles, the Apples, et cetera, you know, they'll pay collectively.

Uh, tens of thousands of engineers, well over a quarter million dollars a year to develop cutting edge technology that serves, you know, and, and establishes a, an experience of, of, of knowledge retrieval and ease of use. And they bring those expectations. They bring those experiences with them. I, you know, I know how one of the things we often talk about is forget about the way that Ernie or Sheila likes to train. your worker is at home helping his uncle on his hot rod or making sourdough bread, how do they use their mobile device to access knowledge? Because if, if the way that you, um, equip and arm staff with something like knowledge or, or elements of their job, if it's not similar to the way that they would do things in uncompensated, you know, unmonitored, unmonitored time, you are choosing the path of most resistance.

And, um, and I think that, uh, you know, I just, I'm, I'm always fascinated with, um, individuals like yourself, Keegan, who, who didn't come from in the industry, you know, and, and not to discount people who've come up, you know, there's a lot of multi generational companies and no question, there's a lot of, um, inside, uh, that I think, uh, run tremendous businesses, but there's also value of kind of being almost like an outsider, almost like an inside outsider and coming in and bringing with you, um, you know, in a sense, uh, a knowledge of, of, of, Other ways that things can be done.

When you came into property restoration, I know it was 10 years ago, but, uh, do you remember some examples of things that, cause you worked for some pretty high performance companies.

Um, what was John Doerr's book? Was like high performance management or something like that. I can't remember what it's called, but it was like his like, his like playbook for Intel. Something like that. Um, what were some examples of things where you, even 10 years ago, you came in and said, this is so old school

[00:40:23] Keegan Trudgen: Oh, I mean, well, the lack of systems, I mean, literally the lack of like, you know, there were a lot of people running their, their companies on Excel or just a hodgepodge of Word docs and this and that, right? One, one thing that, that we embraced pretty early on and, and everyone is like, This is groundbreaking!

Right. And in probably a few years ago, we started using a lot of outsourced administrative, um, people from the Philippines, virtual professionals. Right. And they're like, this is groundbreaking. I'm like, I did that at Intel in 2000. You know, 24 years ago, we were using, you know, people in low cost geos that are great people that will outwork a lot of people here.

They get up every day and they want to bust their ass to, to do a great job. And people are like, Oh, that's so crazy. Right. Um, And I'm like, no, I've been 24 years ago. I did this right. So, um, you know, now we have a whole administrative staff, um, you know, in the Philippines and, and with COVID and with Teams and, and the tools we have now, it is so much easier to work, you know, remotely.

And we're, our offices are geographically diverse. So I said, you're, you're remote to somebody all the time anyway. Our Dallas team, you know, is remote to our Detroit team, even though they're in the United States. It doesn't matter where we're working now, right? As long as we're getting the job done and whatnot.

So there's a lot of that. Um, I love that in, in here you say, hey, listen, A lot of knowledge based roles, such as call centers, bookkeepers, accountants, uh, accounts receivable, accounts payables, um, are, are ripe for AI. And I would, I would continue to, uh, watch that space and have people in this industry embrace that as much as they can.

So, again, it's not to eliminate jobs. It's when you get that surge, right? Thank you And my good, my good friend is gonna, gonna kill me for this, saying this, when you, when you have the surge of work come in and you can have an AR, AI receptionist answer 700 calls a day without missing a beat and provide excellent customer service.

Then that's a win, right?

[00:43:12] Leighton Healey: in any language, in any language, right?

[00:43:14] Keegan Trudgen: in any language, right? Exactly. So, I mean, that's, it's just a win. And same thing with bookkeeping and, and a lot of these things that, yes, they're necessary, but they're not really adding value to the end customer, right? The end customer is looking for you to restore their property, okay?

They don't care if on what your P&L looks like for your company. They just want to have their, they want to have their property restored. They want to know the process. They want to be in the know. They want to have a seamless process because they've never done this before, and their life is a mess at that time.

They don't care about all the other stuff that goes into running a property damage restoration company. And if you can focus your efforts on that, I feel that you're going to be successful.

[00:44:10] Leighton Healey: You know, Keegan, um, I, and what I've observed and I observe it in this conversation. is that when you, um, when you, when you have an open mind, right, when you have an open mind to think about, but you do need like even open mind, like you need to be able to have, I think you'd agree, you need to ultimately have these, these outcomes, these north stars.

And it's interesting because you've set your north star, at, um, providing this great customer experience. Um, I think that's tremendous. I think that that is, um, and I don't get the vibe at all that that's, you know, that that's like a, uh, you know, kind of a jest. Like that's, I think, you know, I've, I've interacted with you in person.

I think that's a real genuine desire of yours. Um, you know, Jen-Hsun Huang, he's this disruptor, CEO at Nvidia. And, uh, you know, I was listening to, I'm sure like, you know, a bazillion people have listened to it, but he makes this comment. He said, AI is not going to take your job. Pause for effect. human using AI is going to take your job.

And, um, and, uh, and, uh, no question. If there's one thing I've industries like this and other industries we're involved in is that, um, oftentimes, um, especially in industries that are largely commoditized, we're meaning like we do a lot of the same service, we use a lot of the same equipment, use a lot of the same consumables, we're hiring from a lot of same talent pools, is that if you're willing to just Break out of a mindset or think differently or just express a little bit of openness.

Um, you can very quickly gain a significant competitive advantage. What do you think about that?

[00:46:00] Keegan Trudgen: Oh, I absolutely agree. You know, because it's not going to be, we all, we all have the standards, right? The IICRC standards. We all have the The guidelines from the RIA and, and we have the same equipment and, and everything, it, it's going to be the customer experience. It's going to be the, the customer who gets, or it's going to be the contractor who gets the customer what they really want and desire in a, in a consistent manner, right?

You know, McDonald's, McDonald's is the best selling hamburger cheeseburger on the planet, objectively. It is horrible, right? It's just a gut bomb hamburger, but it's the best selling because it's consistent. You can go to a McDonald's anywhere in the world and you know exactly what you're going to get and people line up for it out the door.

And that's what people want. They want consistency. So when someone calls PuroClean, they know they're going to get an estimate, you know, that looks like this. They know they're going to get this set of documents. They know that their customer. Go through the process of, Hey, we're going to explain, explain what we're doing, why we're doing it, how long it's going to take, what it means to them, et cetera, et cetera, the whole process.

So if you can, if you can standardize and make that a consistent customer experience. To all of the customers involved in the claim, then I think you'll get that repeat, repeat business because they just are, it's easy. They know what they're going to get. And, and they say, okay, I know, I know what I'm getting.

Let's do that versus the unknown.

[00:47:55] Leighton Healey: You know, Keegan, um, I want to move to kind of like a rocket, rocket, rocket, Fire around here it's easy for me to kind of come to mind, um, all these examples of individuals like yourself who I've come across in the industry, who have, um, made some strategic decisions to kind of just, just take, you know, something like estimating or take something like project management or take some and just kind of invert it and just say, well, what does it look like from this angle?

And it's amazing how just sometimes taking something that where we've always looked at it from one perspective, you just come at it from a different vantage point. Um, but what I've, I've heard, uh, you talk about is that, um, um, No question. I think you have to be on the lookout for cutting edge solutions.

 Then you have, um, what I would say is it sounds like you have a practice where you have a goal in mind of creating great customer experience, creating standardization across your locations.

And to that end, you're actively looking for, outcome rooted technological solutions to keep driving forward. I think sometimes people become resistant to technology when it's just like technology for the sake of technology or like change for the sake of change, as opposed to like change that's rooted in something we're trying to move on.

Um, so, so I'm curious. You have 10 locations. That means you got a lot of people wear your, wear your logo. Um, so I'm sure team members bring things to you. Say, Keegan, have you seen this? Um, let me ask you just very concisely. Um, how do you communicate to your team that you are, um, that you guys are trying to be a tech forward company, um, without every shiny hammer landing on your desk as a suggestion?

[00:49:44] Keegan Trudgen: Yeah, no, it, it does. And we're, we're very cognizant of that, right? Because we don't want to just be jumping at the flavor of the day and. And say, oh, look, this came out. Let's try this. This came out. Let's try this, but we do We do, we're always on the lookout for new technology. We do, I think, I think you have it in here.

We do a lot of the, um, you know, demos sign up for low stakes software demos. We were always on the lookout for what's out there. Um, and we, we test it with people before we roll it out. We do a test. We say, Hey, Take this and let us know what you think. Do you like it? Do you not like it? And do you think it's something that we should roll out?

So a lot of times it's not me rolling out the technology. We said, Hey, we saw this. We thought it might be good. We sent it to Dylan. He said, it's awesome. So let's Let's roll it out a few more times, right? And then we roll things out that way. So we get an organic kind of following with it and, you know, let the, let the team decide.

And if they come back and they say, yeah, this, this is not, this sucks, right? We say, okay, fine. And we, we say, well, we tried it, but it's not for us for whatever reason. Sure.

[00:51:02] Leighton Healey: And it's, it's that kind of, um, um, window shopping experience that, um, I think is so critical because there's just so much of this stuff coming at us. Right. And, um, so that's, that's awesome. Okay. So many more things we could talk about, Keegan. Um, I'm a, I'm a, I'm a big fan of, um, what you and your, your partners have built.

Um, but someone is, is, has been tracking with you, they're following along and they come to this place and they say, Hey, I need to, I need some concrete guidance. Um, unlikely that they'll be able to just sit down for lunch with you with a pad of paper. So this is kind of that like pad of paper, coffee shop moment with Keegan.

Um, So, so what's one thing from your experience? What's one thing that you would recommend leaders stop doing if they want their team to get more use out of the technology that they provide to them? One thing they should stop doing is like, stop doing this. If you want your staff to actually use the technology you're giving them.

[00:52:04] Keegan Trudgen: So, and I've seen this. So stop, I would say. Stop thinking that the world is going to just stop and not continue to change and evolve, right? Because people say, well, I put a new system in, that's it, I'm done, right? 20 years from now, I'll talk to you later, right? No, it's have a mindset of things are going to change and evolve.

And if you look at over the last 10 years, There's been major advancements over the next 10 years, there's going to be major advancements. And if you're stuck in the past or have a resistance to change, you're not going to be able to get the gains from those advancements.

[00:52:45] Leighton Healey: That's a good perspective. Yeah. You know what? I, um, um, I think that's sound advice. Let me ask you another question. Um, so kind of the, the opposite of that, the inverse of that is what's one thing you'd recommend that a business owner in this industry starts doing to integrate best in class technology into their operations?

[00:53:08] Keegan Trudgen: Well, kind of the inverse is being open to it, but, you know, I think you have, and I talked about that, sign up for the low stakes software demos, go to, go to conferences, meet with KnowHow, you know, talk to a lot of, lot of people and see what they're using. And I mean, I just had a demo with a company yesterday and I was very, I was very close minded to it and I said that we don't need this, right?

And then, then we went through it and I asked a lot of questions and I'm like, okay, it, it might be on the radar, right? So look to see what's out there and don't be afraid to, to look at different things and try different things and really understand, like you were saying, really understand what you're trying to do at the end.

At the end, this will help us get closer to our goal of whatever it might, right?

[00:54:00] Leighton Healey: Yeah. Yeah. I'll tell you, Hey, you know, I mean, I, I'm the guy, you know, with teams doing the demos, right? And if I was to almost just play the other side of the field, what would you recommend? I would say, look, the demo's at 4pm, schedule your team to say, show up with coffee at 3. 30, and let's just have a conversation, and don't say, hey, what did you hear about this tool?

It's like, what is something in our operation we're trying to streamline? Or unlock or, or, or improve, or, or where, where are we getting really just kicked in the shins? Perfect. We're all aligned on that. Okay. So, so we understand that this tool claims to improve this area that we're struggling with. So let's go into it with, frankly, with those, with those lenses on.

And, uh, because trying to find, wrap our brain around like where a solution can be like wedged in to our already, what is often, um, convoluted process, okay.

Two last questions, long term bets, right? So are there any long term bets you'd recommend leaders invest in that you say The dividends will come, but you got to make an investment. Um, time, capital, like what, what are some of those long term bets that, uh, that you recommend leaders make, um, where they may not see immediate returns, but if you, if you, if you make the investment.

You know, you're going to see the compound returns over time as it relates to technology.

[00:55:27] Keegan Trudgen: Well, one of the things, I mean, obviously training, but what we've done is we've, with our outsourced workforce, we have spent, and I tell people, I say, hire a virtual professional. Do one hour of training a day. If they can take one little thing off your plate a day, By the end of the end of the year, you have so many things off your plate and you can then focus on, but understand what you're going to do with that time.

And if that's going, go to the coffee shop for an extra two hours a day, that's cool, but just understand what you're going to do with that time. And hopefully you're going to put it into some value added stuff, but it's all about training. If you take, if ever, all of us in this industry would take, I don't know, an hour a week, right?

That's 52 hours a year. An hour a week in, in spend and train, you know, we'd be so much further ahead in all of our businesses.

[00:56:29] Leighton Healey: That's very well said. And I, I certainly agree with that. And, uh, I know what it's like to get just, you know, just in the minutia of the day to day. And, uh, and, uh, but, uh, it's, it's always amazing that when you, when you dig into some of these things, how many, you know, how many levers and moves and, and, and optimizations, uh, are just waiting there and the stuff you're paying for.

Right. You know, it's, it's amazing. Last question. Um, so all of this boils down, I made this comment earlier that at KKnowHow, like at KKnowHow our mission, like what, what, what, what gets us up in the, in the morning is we believe that meaningful work is helping service companies. You use this term kind of brand promise, you know, a common, a common, that's very, I'm very familiar with from like my time.

I spent a decade in franchising. Um, And, uh, and, uh, you know, I kind of pull this term from like Bernharnish brand promise, you know, um, our mission is to help service companies deliver what they promise with confident workers and, um, and attracting workers. What we've learned is that young workers today, um, they want to work in cool places.

They want to work in places where there's cool tech and they're going to learn things and they've got. You know, conversation material for their, you know, meeting up with their buddies at the pub or whatever on the weekend. If you could, if you could teach or advise leaders in this industry, just one thing about attracting and retaining talent in this industry, what would it be Keegan?

[00:58:03] Keegan Trudgen: So, I 100 percent agree with you. One, Well, the first thing that we found is that have a mission. So our, our mission is to help people affected by disasters. And that's what we're doing. And a lot of people like that. They, Oh, I want to help. I want to be a help to somebody. Imagine coming to work, just, you know, like going back to the medical profession.

It's helping somebody. That's a very noble profession. Our profession is a very noble profession. We are there and we are the first. First person to get them on the road to recovery, right? For their house, right? I know, I know human lives are much more important than things, but you know, this is people's livelihoods a lot of times, their homes, and it's very important to them.

So one, we, we work in a very noble profession. Um, this is a career. This is not just a job. Maybe I don't, and maybe my mind has shifted over the last decade or so, but, but I feel like 10 years ago, people felt that this is a job. And we've found ways with, with training, with technology, with, that this can be a long term career.

This is not just a, Hey, you know, in between whatever school and your real job, this can be your, a real profession. And a lot of people have made great livings at this and, and do honorable work every day. So I think putting those messages forward, um, and, and it's, it's a, it's an industry with staying power.

I believe it's going to be around for a while. I mean, I know there's a lot of. Uncertainty with all sorts of stuff in the world today, right? But I believe that in 10 years from now, 20 years from now, There's going to be property damage restoration because stuff is happening. We're building more buildings and the buildings we have are getting older and things happen.

That's why we have an insurance industry. So this is a good place to be.

[01:00:10] Leighton Healey: Yeah, very well said. Yeah, very well said. That's, uh, I'm gonna, I'm gonna cut that clip. I'm gonna, I'm gonna hand it to the Restoration Industry Association, and it's just gonna play on repeat, right? Because, uh, that's good advice. But, you know, Keegan, um, I've been, in the past, I've been, I've been the new franchisee.

And I've also been like the top franchisee, you know, I've been like the top dog and I've been the new guy and I can just, um, uh, I can just picture, um, you know, uh, the PuroClean conference. And I can picture, um, you know, how many times that, uh, probably without you even knowing, uh, you've inspired someone in that network.

Um, you know, with being a very, uh, you know, committed to the customer, committing to doing the job well, but also committed to being a, you know, Uh, a very, you know, pioneering, um, location. And so, um, that was, that's pretty cool. So, so much more we could talk about, but thanks for taking the time to kind of open up your playbook, to be generous and, uh, and share a little bit.

Uh, with what we call this, this Restoration Playbook Podcast, a little bit of just kind of how you do things, uh, in your operation. Um, I've learned a lot and uh, so thanks for taking this time today.

[01:01:28] Keegan Trudgen: yeah. Thank you. This has been a lot of fun. I, I I really enjoy the conversation and hopefully I'll see you at the next conference somewhere.

[01:01:36] Leighton Healey: Oh, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. 

Well, there you have it, folks. Another great conversation with a world class operator, Keegan, a pioneer and a performance driver in the PureClean network, someone who's figured out how to be able to bring technology into his business, not only to enhance operations. But to actually drive improvements in the customer experience that his teams deliver.

If you want to read the long form article associated with this podcast episode, go to and for other resources, just like this, head to and check out our resources section. 

[01:02:10] Paul Silliman: 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.

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