We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Chris Tyrrell a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Chris, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Let’s kick things off with your mission – what is it and what’s the story behind why it’s your mission?
Starting a garage door company was never something that I intended to do. Prior to taking an entry level job with a local garage door company, I had no prior construction related experience. I took that job as a part time gig while working through grad school. About the same time I finished my degree, my boss sold his company and we parted ways. After that, I believed my time in the garage door industry had come to an end and I would be moving on to other things. That’s not quite how it worked out because a few months later I got invited to bid on a very large project that ended up causing me to start my own company and I have worked to build it up from there. The reason that I mention the way I got my start is because it is important to my mission.
Since I never intended to start my own company, it took some time to figure out what I was doing and how I wanted my company to look. I sought some guidance from a business coach who helped me come up with a plan and started the process of growing a company. An essential part of a business model is understanding your “why” and developing your vision and mission around that. I have always believed that giving is extremely important and that creating a business has given me the ability to give back to my community.
Here is Chris’ Garage Doors Vision/Mission:
Our vision is to make Colorado a better place to live by valuing people as our highest commodity, doing the best possible work, and giving generously to our community
Valuing people as our highest commodity: We strive to treat our employees well by paying them competitive wages, giving them company benefits, and having open lines of communication across all members of the team. We also treat every customer with respect and kindness.
Doing the best possible work: We work hard to make sure that we are doing quality service and quality installations so that our customers can have peace of mind knowing they chose the right company.
Giving generously to our community: We give 3% of our total revenue to non-profits every year and seek to find ways to better our community through any method possible.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your background and context?
I started working in garage doors through a friend of a friend in January of 2015. It started out as a part time gig while I was in grad school. After a couple of years, an opportunity to start my own company came about and I decided to give it a shot. Growing up and all through my formal education, I never thought I would become a business owner, but the journey has been one that I would not trade and has served to help me create something that makes a positive impact on the community we are in and I am excited to see what happens next.
What sets us apart and what I am most proud of is our Vision/Mission (which I just discussed):
Making Colorado a better place to live by: valuing people as our highest commodity, doing the best possible work, and giving generously back to our community.
Ultimately I believe that if you create a business, it needs to go beyond making a profit for yourself. You need to use it as a means to bless others around you and create something that serves as a benefit to anyone involved. Essentially, you need to have a greater purpose for the company other than money. This principle can serve in all aspects of your life – create purpose in anything you undertake.
Do you have any insights you can share related to maintaining high team morale?
Building and managing a team is one of the most difficult aspects of a growing business. Finding the right people is a great place to start. The best way to do that is to know exactly what you are looking for and hire the right person for each role. If you have good people in place, then managing the team and maintaining morale becomes a little easier. Here are some keys that I use to help with the team:
1. Be available: as a manager, your team will lean on you to learn about their position and you will likely be the difference between them thriving or floundering. If you are available to them and willing to coach/teach/show them how to be the best, then you will have a competent staff that will gain more and more confidence as each day passes.
2. Allow mistakes to be okay: we all make mistakes. When someone on my staff makes one, I do not berate them or yell at them. Mistakes are teachable moments – walk them through what went wrong, help them correct the problem, and teach them how to not let it happen again. The goal should not be to avoid making mistakes, but to learn from our mistakes and to never repeat them.
3. Do not be afraid to let them thrive: sometimes employees will outgrow their position. Sometimes that means that they have to leave if we do not have a different role for them to fill. That is okay, we need to encourage people to grow, even if that means they have to move on. It will likely make our job more difficult, but we need to be focused on what is best for our employees. Alternatively, be looking for ways to help them grow within your company so that when they do outgrow their current position, that you will have the ability to create a role for them and continue to develop their professional development.
4. Have fun: Plan events such as summer cookouts, Top Golf trips, go to a restaurant, celebrate birthdays, etc. Simple things like this go a long way to create a positive work community, build company culture, and boost morale.
What’s worked well for you in terms of a source for new clients?
I believe the best source of clients for any company is: Word of mouth. The reason that this is the best, is because it is something that you cannot manufacture or pay for. Word of mouth is recommendations from people who know, like, and trust you and that is why it is so powerful. When a friend recommends a company, there is more built in trust than someone who found you or heard about you through paid advertising (not to discount advertising, as it is very useful).
Most word of mouth referrals take a lot longer to develop, but once they get rolling, it can become a constant source of new clients for your business. Here are a few ways that can help build a strong word of mouth referral stream for you:
1. Do great work: simple, but essential. If you are not producing a good product, eventually people will stop telling others about your work. If you truly want to create a word of mouth referral stream, then people need to trust you and the service you are offering.
2. Be involved in your community: Get involved in local events, partner with nonprofits, join your local chamber of commerce, make yourself known to your neighborhood by hosting fun events (block parties, cook outs, etc.).
3. Network: building a network has been the most helpful tool for building my clientele. There are so many organizations that you can join to build a referral network. For example, the local chamber of commerce will put together business networking events, you can join the board of a non-profit, join a networking group like BNI, or a local realtor association or Rotary club. There are so many ways that you can build your business by meeting people in the business community.
4. Be authentic: if you come across as fake or as someone trying to land a sale, then you are going to struggle making a connection with someone who will want to refer your business. If you genuinely connect with people and show them that you care about them whether or not they give you business, then you are on your way to creating a fan who will tell others about your work and your company.
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