We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Jerry Jurden. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Jerry below.
Hi Jerry, thanks for joining us today. Owning a business isn’t always glamorous and so most business owners we’ve connected with have shared that on tough days they sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have just had a regular job instead of all the responsibility of running a business. Have you ever felt that way?
I certainly used to be. There is a freedom in being a business owner that you can’t get working for someone else. You can come and go when you want. You don’t have to earn vacation or sick days off. How much you earn is entirely up to you and how you run and manage your business. On the other hand, that freedom can quickly be traded for feeling imprisoned and trapped by your business if things aren’t going well and it’s up to you to right the ship. Right now with labor and materials costs going up and good labor extremely difficult to find, it has been challenging making any type of profit, even with PPP loans. There were a bunch of TikTok’s going around recently where people said they were tired of working the 9-5 grind, so they started their own business. But the punch line was, now they’re working 24/7. And right now it’s true. Business owners are being squeezed top to bottom, both from the cost and revenue sides of the business. Employees are demanding higher pay and materials are experiencing sometimes double-digit inflation. It is a recipe for an extremely high-stress environment for a business owner caught in the middle. Many are resorting to raising prices. However, in our case that will cause customer churn, causing us to have to spend additional marketing dollars to maintain our customer base and stop the churn, so there are risks to that as well. Most business owners are loathe to raise prices, myself included, but when the survival of the business is at stake, you have to do what you have to do. Having had a “regular job” for 23 years, there are certain perks. As long as you do your job, you will get paid for it as long as the company is financially viable. You don’t necessarily have to take your work home at night. There is low risk as you are not risking your entire life savings on whether the job or the company are able to remain an ongoing concern. If you have a 401(k), you are not risking that on any one company or stock. It’s more stable, more predictable, and much less stress. It’s definitely a question many business owners are asking themselves in this current business environment, especially with wages being so high.
Jerry, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I spent 23 years in IT, including development as well as application and infrastructure support before purchasing my own pool business in 2013. I have been running the company for 8 years. I had no prior experience in the pool industry before purchasing, but I had confidence in my own abilities to learn a relatively simple industry. The previous owner also had no prior experience in the industry when he started the business and grew it to 125 customers, which further gave me confidence that I would be able to be successful.
We often hear about learning lessons – but just as important is unlearning lessons. Have you ever had to unlearn a lesson?
Coming from a white-collar professional background, we were used to long interview processes, waiting weeks for resumes to come in, whittling them down to 4-5 candidates, having multiple rounds of interviews in order to further narrow down the search, etc. I had to unlearn all that going to a blue-collar industry. When you get a viable candidate in you have to make an offer on the spot or you will lose them to another company, sometimes that very same day. I found this out the hard way after my first few hires where I tried to apply the white-collar processes to a blue-collar hire and everyone I wanted already had another job by the time I was ready to make the hiring offer.
Let’s move on to buying businesses – can you talk to us about your experience with business acquisitions?
Yes, this business was started from scratch by the previous business owner and grew to 125 customers before I purchased it from him. I bought it because it was a recurring revenue business model (weekly pool service), and because it was a relatively simple-to-learn business. I knew I wasn’t particularly great at marketing, and the recurring revenue model was appealing to me for that and a host of other reasons. I have always been very mechanically inclined and so the simplicity of the service and maintenance sides of the business gave me confidence that I could pick up quickly and hit the ground running. It was a small company but we reviewed his books and did some sample calls to customers to gauge their satisfaction with the service before making a decision. We signed an NDA and I had to put some money down (10%) to show him I was serious before we dove into things in detail. He stayed on for two weeks training me on the daily operations of the business. At the time there were 3 other employees besides myself.
- Website: www.championcustompools.com