Matt Mauzy took over an HVAC company in his early twenties. And he’s grown his business, Mauzy Heating, Air & Solar, to over $20 million a year in sales. On this special two-part Pro Talk episode, Alexa and Roland talked to Matt about how he got to where he is and what advice he has for other service business owners.
Protalks: 3 steps to a successful home service company with Matt Mauzy
Highlights from Part One
In Part One, Roland and Alexa talk to Matt about his background and his overall philosophy on running a successful HVAC company. Here are some of the main strategies he employs.
A business owner’s top goal should be to empower eery employee
Over and over in this interview, Matt talked about the importance of empowering your team. When asked what his superpower is, he responds, “Really the superpower is just picking good people, empowering those good people and taking care of them. And when you do that, they will take care of your customers and their coworkers around them. It just spreads from there.”
He ends the interview with similar wisdom:
Trust and empower the people around you, because you can’t do it yourself. I’m one person. There’s no way that I could come anywhere close to where I’m at today, unless I had an incredible group of people behind me in my personal life and in the business here. So trust those people and empower those people; keep the environment that they work in or live in fun, and you will be where I’m at in no time at all. That’s what it takes.
So how do you empower each employee? Like Matt says, it starts with picking the right people.
Hiring strategy: he takes his time [22:45]
When Matt is hiring he’s looking for two things: a good heart and a good work ethic, and he explains that those are difficult to discern in a 15 minute interview. His solution is to take more time.
Especially if he’s hiring for a key position, such as a customer service rep or a manager, he’ll do two interviews: a more formal interview in an office and a casual interview outside the office. He’ll take the person out to lunch to get a feel for them.
“By that second interview, when you’re walking away from that, back to your car, you’ll know. There’d be no doubt. You’ll know by then, is this going to be a great fit or is it not?”
Hiring strategy: he looks for good people everywhere
Matt doesn’t wait until there’s a job opening to search for people who he think would be a good fit. If he has a good experience with someone outside of his industry, such as a customer service rep at a retail store, he’ll come back to observe them a second time. If he has two good experiences in a row, he’ll give them his business card: “I think I can provide an opportunity to somebody like that. I want to get them in an interview.”
Once you have the right people on the team, then the nurturing work begins.
Empowerment strategy: get rid of the hierarchy [27:23]
Everyone that works at Mauzy might have a different set of responsibilities, but nobody is more important than anyone else. There are no titles and no hierarchy at the business.
“I don’t care if it’s Matt Mauzy or somebody that’s just starting with us, that’s maybe working for us for the summer sweep in the back parking lot. There’s no titles. We all are equals, and we all have a job to do. And if we all do our job and do it well as a company, we do well,” Matt says.
Empowerment strategy: create a fun work place [29:58]
Matt makes sure that his employees enjoy coming to work. For instance, he leads a meeting each morning with the installers and starts each meeting with a funny video to get people laughing and in a good mood.
“You’d be shocked if you create the environment and just how much gets done and how much people actually love their job and coming to work,” Matt explains. “And then that just carries through to what they do all day long which is which is helping customers.”
Strive for work/life balance [31:44]
Matt struggled with addictions in his late teens and early twenties. In fact, he was only a couple of years out of recovery when he had the opportunity to buy his company. Matt has had to learn new, better ways to de-stress.
He explains that the HVAC industry can be both physically and mentally demanding, and it can also appeal to folks with strong work ethics that push themselves really hard. And it can lead to feeling like the job isn’t going anywhere.
Matt encourages folks to take breaks and find healthy releases or rewards. But finding the right ones can take some trial and error:
You have to still have that reward system, because if you just think, ‘Hey, look, I’m just going to stop drinking completely. That’s it, I’m done … I’m gonna start working out. I’m going to eat healthy — that’s all I’m going to do.’ And we all know what eventually happens there. Right? it usually doesn’t work out. You usually do well for a couple of months, and you ride down the same road. So what you have to do though, is you still have to have the reward system in place, but you just have to replace it with healthy things, meaning going out and getting yourself a good meal. Going to Ruth Chris on Friday night.
Matt takes what he calls “Ferrari Fridays” where he drives his Ferrari into work. “Figure out what your Ferrari Fridays is and schedule into your calendar for yourself so you don’t just sweep it under the rug again and turn to something else.”
Highlights from Part Two
In the second half of this interview, found in Part Two, Roland and Alexa talk to Matt about three big “aha moments” that led to his business increasing revenue over $17 million a year.
Aim for lower volume, higher margin [0:00]
In the beginning, Matt cared about winning every bid. As a result, his team was spread thin working a high volume of jobs.
His first aha moment came from a conversation with a territory manager in which the person pointed out that the company’s overhead did not change regardless of how many jobs he took.
He took that advice to heart and started focusing more on the quality of work (and what quality would cost) than the quantity of bids they were winning.
That following year, they did 20% less volume, but raised their profit margin by 30%.
“That also helped to really build our brand too, because you gotta think about how you want to be known as a company when somebody hears your brand. What do you want the next thing to be that enters their mind? I think for us, it was really focusing on being a quality company: customer service and selling a quality product.
Focus on one thing you love [8:05]
On top of the high volume mentality, his company offered commercial and residential heating and air conditioning and refrigeration services.
Matt thought that by being in both the commercial and residential spheres would bring more business, but as a result, they weren’t able to focus on anything and raise the quality:
- The company’s resources were spread thin.
- The team was being trained on too many things to learn any one thing well.
He realized if he wanted to create a quality product, they needed to reduce the amount of products they were selling.
The first thing they cut was working with home remodelers and then commercial heating and air. They began to focus solely on residential heating and air. “It allowed us to become extremely efficient and build different processes,” Matt explains.
As a result, they grew from $9 million to $15 million in 12 months.
Matt’s advice to other business owners is to pick something you love doing and stick with it.
Don’t be afraid to spend $$$ on marketing [17:07]
Matt’s final aha moment was realizing that a business can only grow so much based off of referrals alone:
“Referrals are a huge part of our business — those loyal customers — but how do you get that customer to begin with? A lot of times it doesn’t come from a referral, you’ve got to market, and I would encourage people to develop a marketing plan and just get behind it, take that leap, take a loan out to put together a marketing program.”
One year, he decided to invest 7% of what he believed they would gross the following year on marketing. And the return was amazing, so they spent 7% the following year and then went up to 10% which Matt calls “aggressive growth mode.”
Now, you’ll find Mauzy marketing on local TV and radio stations and on billboards around San Diego.
Before spending money on marketing, Matt suggests take a good look at your branding. “Today because of the pace that we operate at, simplicity in branding is everything.”
From truck wraps to billboards, make sure your designs are simple enough for people to see exactly what you do and one simple way to contact you in just a few seconds.