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Michelle Myers on Taking Risk on People

Jun 02, 2021
 

Season 2, Episode 22

Summary:

“I've realized that hiring smarter, more capable people and putting them around me, has been the best risk that I've ever taken”  - Michelle Myers

One of the biggest challenges in business, and especially for entrepreneurs is the people equation. It’s risky to have people be part of the business you’re working so hard to build, especially when you’re looking to others have contact with your customer base. It’s also turned out to be a great business model for Michelle Meyers, who started a business out of necessity and grew into a model that serves the needs of both employees and customers. She is the Founder and CEO of Pink Callers, an administrative support solution that assigns customer service rockstars to support home service businesses remotely. Michelle also has a podcast with three other women entrepreneurs called Fight Club 4 Business. Hear her tips on entrepreneurship and hiring on this week’s Champions of Risk podcast.

 

Links:

Pink Callers

Fight Club 4 Business

 

Transcript:

Michael Kithcart: 

Hello, I'm Michael Kithcart. I'm a high performance leadership coach and creator of the Wynning Your Way framework. Wel come to th Champions of RISK Podcast, wher we examine the many aspects o risks so we can all fac uncertainty with more strength courage and some humor together One of the biggest challenges i business and especially fo entrepreneurs, is the peopl equation. When to bring peopl on board, and what is that righ next hire, it's risky to hav people be part of your busines that you're working so hard t build. And it's especiall difficult when you're looking t others to have contact with you customer base. Today's gues helps minimize that risk an provide a solution. Pleas welcome Michelle Myers. She is the founder and CEO of Pink Callers. It's an administrative support solution that assigns customer service rock stars to support home service businesses remotely. She also has a podcast with three other women entrepreneurs called Fight Club 4 Business, which we are going t talk about. Michelle, welcome t the podcast.

Michelle Myers: 

Hey, thank you, Michael, I'm so pleased to be here. I'm really grateful for you reaching out and grabbing me. I think it's awesome when women bond together and we come up with really cool, innovative topics. And I'm grateful that you grabbed me. So thanks so much.

Michael Kithcart: 

Yes, you're welcome. Well, and you and I had did have a chance to talk on another occasion. And and that was a common thread for you and me and for the other women that you work with on your podcast. It is it's it's we want to be elevating more women entrepreneurs. So tell me a little bit more about what Pink Callers is and how you got that name?

Michelle Myers: 

Well, the name I will start with that because I have, I owe a big debt of gratitude to my husband, Doug, he is the one who came up with the name. I had a small business that I was the solopreneur of when he met me. And I was just doing work in the admin space to try to support home service business owners, and thought that it was just a job for me. And when he met me, he said to me, this is actually more than a job, it could be a business. And I was like, No, this is just me trying to make a way for my children and for myself. And he really saw it as something that could be helpful for more than just a few clients that I was serving personally. So he did some research into the word calling and callers and phones and all kinds of different things. And found that there were some really fun terminology from the 40s and 50s. About people that worked in the admin space, much like blue collars, which we're all very familiar with right blue collar workers and white collar in an office that the admin function of that time period was called pink collars because it was primarily associated with women. So we did a little play on words with the way that callers is spelled. It's not collars like a shirt, but it's callers like the phone. And that was how the name got created. So I owe him a little bit of help there for sure. And then we we at Pink Callers serve home service and field service business owners. So if you are out in the field or working on homes or residences, we can support your customer care by taking care of your phone calls and emails and chat and forums and Angie's List and homeadvisor and Yelp and all the ways that homeowners can reach your business, we can manage that traffic for you, and make it something that's really easy for your pipeline to take care of as you continue to grow your business out there. So that's what we do.

Michael Kithcart: 

And when when you think about the clients that you have, what are some of the things that they say to you around what you take off their plates? Like what difference does that make?

Michelle Myers: 

Well, it makes a huge difference. Because 99% of the time, a business owner has started a business because he loves doing the thing, right? He loves to turn the wrench or hammer the nail or fix the yard or do the trees. And that individual has not started a business so that they can be in front of a computer all day. Right? That is like the antithesis of why they have started a company. And so oftentimes they find that technologically, they aren't really as they don't have as much capacity because of the way they do their work to utilize some of the technology that might help their company to grow. And that's where we come in. We have very customer savvy and empathetic team members that are also extremely technologically savvy and young and fast and happy and fun and can really help speed up the transaction of having that business owner get in front of the homeowner, right? Because that's where all the magic happens is when the two of them interact and decide what project or solution they're going to come up with together. And so we just help that magic happen behind the scenes so that that homeowner can get the services completed that they need. And that entrepreneur can continue to grow his company. So we found it, it's a pain point that's pretty large out there in the industry.

Michael Kithcart: 

Yes, and when you think of the peace of mind that Pink Callers provides for entrepreneurs, because really, you know, like, they're interesting that you sometimes you really are that first line to their potential customer, or you're dealing with a customer when they're not happy.

Michelle Myers: 

That I think is the the cool part about our model is that it's one individual that works on that business every day. So that person, you know, Angelica, or Christie or Samantha, I'm just naming off some of our team, that individual is taking care of that business every day. So that business owner gets to know him or her within our company, and gets to customize that experience for their customers. They get to say, hey, Christy, you know, you're having this great event in our community, make sure to mention it to our our incoming callers, or, hey, Angelica, we're running this awesome special in this particular neighborhood, if you can make sure that people are notified of that, and being able to help an entrepreneur work on his business, and take off that real pain point, especially in the evenings, calling customers back and trying to catch up with everything. That's really beneficial. We really hear that we give people a lot of freedom. And that's their favorite word about hiring a company.

Michael Kithcart: 

So that, you know, I love that word. Because I have to say, every time I asked the question to any entrepreneur, what do you want? Like, really? What do you want to the end of the day? It is freedom it is the universal I think entrepreneurship and freedom. They go hand in hand. Now they mean something different to everybody. But the word always pops up.

Michelle Myers: 

Yeah. And I mean, it's interesting, because I think one of the other things that people always say is, you know, some of the worries that they have are, how will you know our service area? How do you know what services we provide are? How can I know that you're going to be kind to our people? So technology has grown leaps and bounds even in the last five years that we've run Pink Callers. It's incredible the amount of data that we can understand about a service area, or types of services. And we digitize a lot of that information into really bite sized chunks that our team members can consume. So that when a customer calls up, and they say I have a problem with my toilet, or a tree or a electrical problem, they can give just the tiniest bit of intuitive new information, so that the homeowner feels comfortable. And so when the client and the business owner meet, the business owner feels like the client knows what's going on and understands what's going to happen next. And that really takes a lot of burden of that communication off of that business owner, which is really another place where we are super helpful.

Michael Kithcart: 

Yeah, that sounds great. I want to take a step back, because you mentioned you know, where you were, as you were creating Pink Callers. But how did you enter entrepreneurship?

Michelle Myers: 

Well, I entered it very late in life, I was 40 before I started my business, and I entered it kicking and screaming in the downturn in the economy in 2008, and 2009. So I worked in corporate America, like a lot of listeners did, or maybe even do and loved it and loved a regular paycheck and the comfort and the certainty until I found myself moving back to be nearer to family and realized that I needed to come up with some way to support myself and my two small children. So I entered entrepreneurship kind of different than most people I didn't have a big dream are a big goal or a big concept. I really was just trying to do something creative, that would keep me at home and have me have the ability to support myself and my children. So that's kind of how it went. I was grateful to come from a family of entrepreneurs. So everyone else in my family was business owners, and they were like, finally, you're gonna do something different. They were all thrilled for me. But I was very worried and nervous, but have since been able to get around to that worry and nerves and I'm very grateful that it happened that way.

Michael Kithcart: 

In talking to you too, it was very evident that you've never really forgotten how you got started in what those circumstances were. So how have you integrated your personal experience into your company?

Michelle Myers: 

Well, it's interesting because we are part of a coaching group and our coach is very helpful with our financial peace in our budgeting and the goal setting that we need to do as a company. And as a couple, because I work every day with Doug, my husband. And I found that when I get nervous, or I get afraid of where the business is going, or how big we're getting, I always have to revisit our core values and back to our mission, which is really to provide at homework opportunities for caregivers, and parents and people that are at home, that want to have an opportunity that may not be super sales based that they don't have to sell a particular product, but that they can be empathetic and solve problems every day. So when I talk about what we want to do as a company, I always frame it by discussing how many jobs we're going to create, because I needed a job like this. And so I always think about how many jobs can we create this quarter or this month or this year. And that really keeps us focused on what our mission is. So it's great.

Michael Kithcart: 

And your employees are all over the country?

Michelle Myers: 

They sure are we have people from California, all the way to New York and DC and Florida. So the entire country, working in every time zone, and we have some folks in Canada, so we can cover pretty much all of North America.

Michael Kithcart: 

That's great. So if you think back to those early days, and to where you are now, how would you describe your risk tolerance back when you first started your business versus where it is today?

Michelle Myers: 

My risk tolerance is much higher. And it's interesting, I've realized that hiring smarter, more capable people and putting them around me, has been the best risk that I've ever taken, right. And I think a lot of us as entrepreneurs think just like our clients, think, here, Pink Callers, oh, I'm the only person that may have this answer, I'm the only person that may be able to do this one particular thing. And it's really a little bit of a lie that we tell ourselves as business owners. And there are some incredibly capable, smart, intuitive, fantastic people out there in the marketplace right now that are looking for work. And we've made two of probably the biggest hires we've ever made this year in 2021, it's been very risky. And I have been very grateful that I have taken that chance because it has absolutely changed our culture and our company. And it's given us some new life into some different areas that we need to grow our company. So that's something that I'm still learning is still learning how to take risks. So yes,

Michael Kithcart: 

But you're leading by example. And I think that, you know, I appreciate you sharing that. Because the fear can be there, but you move through it, and you and you do it anyway. That other piece too, I love what you say that there's so many capable people out there is as businesses grow and scale just because you can do it and even maybe do it well doesn't mean that you need to or should be doing it right as you start to transform and really be able to work on the business. And it actually give somebody an opportunity. So you're doing a greater service by giving up and taking things off your plate. So that was for anybody listening to the podcast that needs to hear that message right now? Yeah, we just want to encourage you to stop and start leading.

Michelle Myers: 

So good!

Michael Kithcart: 

You know, we're starting to come out of COVID, or at least like the next version and the next round of it. What did the pandemic do to your business? How did it change it?

Michelle Myers: 

Well, it changed it pretty drastically right at the beginning. I know that February and February 1 and March 1 of April, those probably eight to 10 weeks, right. In that time period, a lot of our clients had not been deemed necessary or what did they call them?

Michael Kithcart: 

Essential.

Michelle Myers: 

Thank you. Thank you. They had not been dedicated, delegated as essential. Yes. So there was a little bit of a few weeks, there was a gray area, people were really panicking. And I was very fortunate that we had a very solid team here inside our company. And I was also very grateful that I had very solid business owners that were our clients. We reached out to every one of them and wrote letters on their behalf to send out to all of their databases and say, Hey, we are not sure if we're going to be essential or not. We're not sure if we can come and do services yet. We're gonna keep you posted. So we were super proactive in communicating to the homeowners who also didn't know what was going on. So that kept us very viable and kept us in the seat for a little bit longer. And then Once we figured out who was going to be essential or not, we did have a little bit of loss of clientele, a few clients that just weren't sure that they wanted to move forward weren't sure that their business was going to be viable with this hit at that particular time. Remember, some of our clients are highly seasonal. So those people that were highly seasonal, that was hitting at the time when they were probably the lowest of their cash flow. So it was a really frightening time for them. We've since been able to not only re engage with most of the folks that left for a short period of time, but then we actually grew in the year of COVID. So I think that if if COVID changed our business in any way, it just re energized people to understand that work from home positions were viable, right, because everybody had to do it last year. And we don't have to really convince ourselves that part of what we do anymore, we just say these are the tools that we utilize to have, you know, key performance indicators and accountability. And this is what we do for our at home team. And you can see those statistics as our clients. So that's been an interesting change, I think for a lot of home service business owners that may not have wanted to engage with an outsourced company like ours, or a remote company. And that has been actually very beneficial in the conversations that we've had with leads this year, they all kind of are used to. Okay, we all had to go home. And we kind of all learned a new way. And you can be part of that new way now. So I've seen that it really changed a lot of our client base and our lead leads coming in. So it's been positive overall.

Michael Kithcart: 

Yeah, well, that's great to hear, right? That's very encouraging. What would you say are some of the on going shifting trends that you are seeing in your business as the service businesses are coming back, the home service businesses are coming back to you. And as you're looking to the rest of 2021, and even 2022?

Michelle Myers: 

Well, I'm seeing that people are really engaging in a high level of communication, not only internally with their teams, but with the homeowners that they serve, homeowners are demanding either an update on when the service providers going to arrive windows of time are really not even acceptable anymore. People really want to know, you know, when is the truck leaving or when is the service can be provided. So I can prepare, you know, I write my home, my kids, my dog, because everybody now is in the home. So that communication has really increased over this last few months. And I see it increasing even more. And that push a button and commoditizing of services, I think is also something I'm really seeing homeowners are really doing a lot more investigating and checking up on companies checking their social proof, seeing their their ratings, looking at their website. And if it's easy to transact business with that service provider, they're just pushing the button and making it happen. They don't have a lot of time to get six quotes anymore, right? It's just not like that any longer. And so a lot of us as consumers are really ready to pick out the service that they want, that we want, push the button and have it scheduled. And that's really I think the speed of that transaction is really going to continue to increase as time goes on.

Michael Kithcart: 

Yeah, boy, just listening to you hear that? It's like you just described my last six months. And yeah, because we decided, of course through COVID that we needed a bigger space. So and we moved into, you know, a new home of which, you know, now everything had to be done on it. And you are exactly right is like we do have expectations. And we are maneuvering a lot more things in order to be prepared to have somebody come in our home because that still too is not the most comfortable thing. I think on both sides. I mean, I feel for service people who are coming into our home for us. It's... Yeah, so it just kind of continues to be a dance.

Michelle Myers: 

It does. And it's going to be a faster and faster dance. It's interesting that our name is Pink Callers, because I've read a lot of statistics about phones and about phone interaction with people and phone interaction with businesses in particular, that unless your company has chat, and a form and some easy way to transact business online, you're really going to lose out in the next decade because homeowners are not going to pick up the phone and talk to another human being. They really want that digital experience to just be quick and on their timeline. They want to do it at midnight. They want to do it at five in the morning. They want to do it when they're on a run with their phone in their hands. They really want to make that transaction part seamless and quick. And so As home service providers, we really need to step up to that consumer demand and, and make that easy for them to transact business with us.

Michael Kithcart: 

Yeah, interesting. I see you talk about this all the time, I want, I want you to share about the Fight Club 4 Business and the other women that are part of

Michelle Myers: 

I would love to. Fight Club 4 Business is one of my favorite groups that I'm a part of, and I'm so grateful for these women, there are four of us in total. So it's myself and this group. So tell us the premise about it. And how it I talk about systems. We have Taylor Meroni, and she talks about advertising, marketing, sales, all kinds of things to get traction in your company. We have Meaghan Likes, and she teaches finance and QuickBooks and all of the information that you need to run your business and have a more financially rewarding life. That's what her tagline is, which I love. And then Martha Woodward runs an incredible culture series that you can take as a business owner or consumer. And she teaches companies how to have, you know, an incredible company culture. And so the four of us kind of tackle those four types or, or segments of your business, finances, marketing culture, and then systems is me. So it's a really interesting round robin style, our it's always very dynamic. We have a guest every week, if we can, if we can. And we have home service business owners, they have influencers, people that run software companies, we actually had a consumer on a couple of weeks ago, and she talked about what it's been like to have services done at her house through COVID. And she was an incredible guests, we all learned so much from what it consumers actually thinking in this time, we've turned it into a podcast, and we meet weekly live on Facebook. It's called Fight Club 4 Business. And it's a number 4 for the four of us and the four segments of your business. And it just came out of several really difficult discussions in that March and February came to be. timeframe last year, where we were all like, Oh, my gosh, how is your company doing? Or, you know, where are your clients going? Or what is what are the homeowner saying, and we were just constantly together, churning through like how to pivot and how to support our people. And this time, not only our teams are people that work with us, but the clients that we serve, and we found that we were having these really interesting discussions, and we just thought we'd have to share that with people. So we turned the camera on us one day, and it just kind of turned into something. So it's been really fun. I love the three other women that I serve with. And that's what I call it. It's just an act of service that we give our time every week, and I love it. So check it out. It's fun. It's a fun group of people. And it's an interesting conversation and you learn something, we have an accountability group, and we assign homework every week. So we try to keep you on track. And if we just make one small move in your business every week, it really does make a huge difference. So that's Fightclub.

Michael Kithcart: 

That's great. And you're bringing these things up things that you've talked about Michelle, right. Like, you're also able to respond to what you're noticing in the marketplace, and what what are those needs that now need to be filled? So I think that's great. I'm looking forward to checking that out, as well. So you mentioned you know, just taking one small step, if you make one, one small change or one forward motion in your business every week, it does build momentum. What are the things that Pink Callers, you know, what are you focused on in what's giving you hope for the year?

Michelle Myers: 

Oh, that's such a good question. I love that well, taking the risk and hiring those two key strategic hires in our business. One was what we call an operations manager. We hired an ops person this year, to kind of really support the team even more in our company. And then internally here at our home office, we hired a local person here, and it's funny, we're struggling over Taylor's title, we don't know if she's going to be executive assistant captain of the fun team. We don't know if she's going to be a Taylor of all things, we're not quite sure, because every week or so we throw her into something new. But it's so fun. And great to have somebody fresh eyes on your business. And sometimes that's really what you need is somebody not only to help you with all those things, you can't get done as an entrepreneur. But it's also really exciting to see somebody come in and go, Oh, I could build a system for this or we could outsource this or we could you know, buy this software for this. I think everybody's having a challenge with hiring and that we are not any different, right? We're all feeling that pinch right now. And we were able to find a software platform by which people can interview themselves at any time, day or night. So we get in every morning, it's been a game changer we get in every morning. And Taylor says, Here are all the applicants, and here are all the people I want to talk to you. And this is how it's all going. And just having her figure that whole process out has just been super helpful. So I'm hopeful to have incredibly good new people in our company, which has really great new roles that didn't even exist. So it's not like it was somebody that wasn't here before. And I think that's really helpful. And as our business coach and mentor, and all the people tell us all the books you read, you know, people are really, the whole reason we're all in the business of people, all of us, no matter what we do. And I think, if COVID taught us anything, is that we really do need each other, I feel like we are missing one another so badly. And I'm grateful that I built a business with my sweet husband that can connect people in a different way and keep them engaged and keep them safe. But by hiring new people, I think was really cool. And that's what I'm hopeful for is to see the growth that comes out of these strategic new new folks in our company.

Michael Kithcart: 

That, that's a lot to be excited for. So just so we're, we're clear, I want to break it out. As we're wrapping up here, when you identify the clients that you really target. What do they look like? Give us the profile of the client.

Michelle Myers: 

The profile of the client that we serve as the home service business owner, or field service business owner, somebody that works outside or on homes or on residences that provide excellent service and is at the point now where he or she cannot continue managing all the communication needs of their customers, right, and they want something different, they don't just want an answering service, they don't want a message taker that just kicks the can down the road and makes it their problem at six o'clock at night. They want somebody that can truly engage with the potential client or customer, place them in a software platform of their choosing, get them into the pipeline with either an online estimate or an in person visit, and get that pipeline filled so that they can continue doing the job that they love. We really just want to solve problems all day long. My previous world, the one I was alluding to earlier was I worked in commercial real estate architecture, design. And so I solve problems in the building world all the time. And so when I look at our business and how we serve, we really are just a piece of the puzzle for a project, right and every business's project, and every business owner really needs the right people on the right seat. And so we found that when we placed the person within that company, it really helps that business grow. And the best part that gets me excited is that we're helping small businesses grow in the midst of supporting awesome people that want to be at home, you know, and work from home. So there's like a double double whammy there of goodness that I just love.

Michael Kithcart: 

Yeah, that's powerful. So like, you know, you were saying to that you are looking for good people that the company continues to grow. So how do you describe what you're seeking for your personnel?

Michelle Myers: 

For our for our team, we want people that have a high level of integrity and empathy, we find that good listeners are great on the phones, people that are very detail oriented, that ask really good questions, not just taking the information that the customer or the homeowner gives, because sometimes the homeowner doesn't even know what the problem is. And so asking really good questions to empower that business owner to understand what he or she is walking into, or calling back for or arriving on a jobsite visit to the dress that's really important. And getting all those details in front of that business owner really gives him or her the power to decide how to attack that problem or issue. And that's really important. So empathy, good, good details, and somebody that wants to work on a team because we have a super cool culture here. We connect everybody on Slack, which is a great application where you connect and do video and audio and text and emojis we have a very strong meme game here at Pink Callers and a lot of fun channels. And so we want somebody that maybe is tired of doing customer service in the old way and wants to do it in a new way and doesn't want to take grouchy customer calls of people the worst things are broken or it's scary because most of the time we just have people that have a project or have a tree that needs to be trimmed or something positive that they want to improve in their home. And so it's it's usually a fun call what we get to take because somebody is excited to do something new.

Michael Kithcart: 

That's great. Michelle, how can people find you and Pink Callers?

Michelle Myers: 

They can find us on our website. It's www.pink, like the color and then callers c-a-l-le-r-s, just like calling on the phone, .com {www.pinkcallers.com}. And we have ll of our social media a d everything is on the we site, there's a great, there's great many buttons to push, which I love push pushing buttons you just asked Doug, he'll h 'll attest to this one tons of buttons there that you can push to fill out a small form and et in front of Doug or myself o a discovery calls. So they an also just go to our contact form and just throw the r information in there really quickly, anytime, day or night. nd we'll reach out. So we'll do all the hard work, you just need to tell us that you need s

Michael Kithcart: 

That's great. Well, Michelle, thank you so me help. much for taking time to be on the champions of growth podcast. I wish you all the best. I really am intrigued by your your business model. And I love the fact that you're helping people on both ends.

Michelle Myers: 

Thank you so much. It was a pleasure being here. And I'm so grateful that we connected. Thank you.

Michael Kithcart: 

And thank you for listening to this podcast. Hey, if you're getting a lot of value from these episodes, please share on your social channels. If you're enjoying it, chances are there's other people like your friends or your family that would benefit from it too. And if you're looking for more episodes and other insights, you can follow me on Instagram @MichaelKithcart. Finally, I'd like to ask you to take a moment to subscribe and rate this podcast on iTunes. I'd also be grateful if you'd leave me a review. This way I can help more people and amplify the voices of the great guests that come on the podcast. Thanks for listening and I'll catch you on the next episode.

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