DeckExpo Recap: with April Edwards & Mackenzie Zera

April Edwards 0:02 All right, everybody. Welcome to the third episode of We Love Deck Builders. I’m your host April Edwards and today we’ve got Mackenzie Zera with us. She is our rockstar project manager. Today we want to talk about what we learned from Deck Expo. It was such an amazing week, jam packed right Mackenzie?, the first three days there was a lot going on, right? Yes. So I just want to give you a little overview with what Deck Deck Expo is. So it is shared with the Pool, Spa and Patio industry. And Deck Expo is just kind of a little portion of the entire conference. But it is extremely valuable. There are so many amazing builders there and all kinds of vendors, manufacturers and people just you know, sharing the latest and greatest and then this year was very exciting because Chris Breen and Amy Breen from Legacy Academy teamed up with NADRA to present the DeckX talks. And I got to sit in on a couple of the talks, escaping the booth and leaving MacKenzie to hold the fort down. I’ve got some amazing notes to share with you guys on that. And I think that everybody that I talked to had just such amazing feedback from those talks, did you happen to hear anybody say anything about any of the talks, they went to MacKenzie,

Mackenzie Zera 1:35 I, I did well, I had an opportunity to sit in on one of the talks. And it was just really amazing to hear the perspectives from these actual Deck Builders who own their own business. And one that I sat in on was for social media, and just hearing about how passionate everybody was that the two panelists up there, how passionate they were about just their social media, you know, being so excited to take videos of their work and like share it sharing tips with other Deck Builders, or, you know, just doing like a time lapse video of their project from start to finish. And using that as a tool to show case, potential clients, you know, what the process looks like. And it’s just, you know, an engaging and fun video. So it was just really neat to hear their perspectives. And then just to see how engaged everybody else was in the crowd, and all the questions that they were asking, you know, you could really tell that everybody wants to ramp up their social media game after that presentation.

April Edwards 2:36 Yeah, I think that with all of these conferences, no matter what you go to, hopefully, you’re able to leave with just one key juicy nugget, and then be able to get back to work in normal life to where you can actually apply some of the things that you learn. I think what was really interesting, so I was not able to attend the social media when I was meeting the fort. When I say meeting the fort, we had a booth there, where people can come and schedule strategy sessions with me and learn a little bit more about what Deck Builder Marketers has to offer them. But I believe it was Gordon from Wood Bully said that he spends the evening editing his footage.

Mackenzie Zera 3:09 Yeah, he kind of touched base on he said, you know, a typical day for him, like he’ll get up at five leave the house shortly after he’s out on the field all day, then comes home, you know, late evenings most times has a little bit of time to unwind. And then once he’s in bed, he’ll be editing his footage on like his phone or his laptop. I don’t know from like, sometimes he said, like nine to midnight, and then does it all over again. But you know, he just said he’s really passionate about the videos, and he likes him done a certain way. And he actually enjoys doing the editing. He knows that he could have probably passed it off to somebody else. But it’s just something that he loves to do. And so he makes time for it.

April Edwards 3:58 Yeah, that was some feedback. I talked about that with a few builders, too, that have been pretty heavy into social media for a while. And sometimes, I mean, I think that as a business owner, you kind of have to evaluate what you’re good at what you like doing, what you don’t like doing and what you’re not good at. And if you have a passion for something, it’s it’s going to, obviously be more enjoyable. But I think you’ll be able to get through it a lot more efficiently. And some of the builders I spoke to, you know, they were just like the amount of time that it takes me to delegate editing the footage to somebody else. It’s just as easy for me to do it. But you have to be a video editor and I think it’s pretty cool. The two sides that some of these big players in this space like social media, icons and the deck building world play, where they’re building something with their hands during the day and then nerding out with the technical stuff in the evening and you know, really taking full advantage of social media and so forth. But for any of you guys that are listening that, you know, do not want to be messing around with a laptop, while you’re, you know, trying to relax in bed. I would say maybe the the biggest takeaway that I heard from you was, you know, just do that time lapse footage while you’re on the job. And I think that that really into build some anticipation with your projects. And I mean, you just sometimes you don’t need to overthink things, either you just need to be present. Because if you’re not your competition will be. Do you have anything to add on that?

Mackenzie Zera 5:32 Absolutely and with the time lapse, I mean, you can get so much content from that, like, sure, you would want to have a time lapse from start to finish. And that project is probably a couple of weeks going on. And then in a time lapse, it’s what maybe a minute, but you can do time lapses, you know, day by day in this way, you don’t even have to edit that video, you just do set up a quick time lapse of that, you know, with your GoPro or set your phone somewhere and do that. And then you don’t even really have to edit it. You just upload it each day. And then you save the bigger editing project for the end of the project when your crews off the ground. And you just slice them all together. And it should be pretty easy.

April Edwards 6:10 Yeah, yeah. That’s awesome. Very cool. Well, so we are back from Deck Expo. We had kind of a full day yesterday. I know I was a little start a little late to get started yesterday. I hope you were we we got in pretty late on Wednesday. And I think that once we sat down to eat dinner on Wednesday, when we were waiting for the airplane, realized how tired we were. So I kind of had a slow start yesterday. And you know, so anyway, we just have been getting back into the swing of things. And I’m leaving for vacation next week. I’m super excited. I’ve been you know, working pretty hard this year. And I going to do an awesome girls trip going to Costa Rica and doing some surfing and yoga. So we’re leaving tonight. So it’s been pretty crazy getting everything together here. And anyway, poor Mackenzie hit me up. She’s like, are you ready? And I’m like, I need 15 minutes. So I was rushing, trying to pack and get ready for this podcast. I just really wanted to do it while everything was fresh in my head and ran into the door. So I mean, you guys can see that you’re listening and I don’t know that it’s puffed up yet, but this eyebrow, I’m gonna have a juicy little nugget there for all my surfing pictures next week. Anyway, I just had to sit there and just be like, okay, just breathe just breathe.

Mackenzie Zera 7:41 one of those days, but you’re gonna get rewarded so soon. I cannot wait to hear all about it when you get back. Yeah, hopefully there’s no more bruises or anything on you from the surfing.

April Edwards 7:52 That’s right. That’s right. Just sunshine. I hope my only souvenir is tan. Right. Um, so yeah, next week is Thanksgiving. So I hope that everybody has some amazing plans. I think that we all really enjoy spending time with our family. Although I do have to say that my family is going to Ohio to visit family. While I go to beautiful Costa Rica. I just had to put that in there. You know? Are you doing anything special for Thanksgiving?

Mackenzie Zera 8:21 Yeah, so I’m going home. My family all lives in Northern New York. So I’m gonna go home for Thanksgiving. I usually don’t travel during the holidays. I like to just kind of keep it quiet and cozy here in the west coast with my partner. But my brother had his first child in October so I’m gonna go home and meet my nephew. And then my cousin is also getting married Thanksgiving weekend. So just a lot of family time and I’m I’m really excited to actually be home for holiday. You know, even though there’s that hustle and bustle of going to the airport and all of the baggage that comes with traveling over the holidays. It really is special to be able to spend it with family. So feels like you and I are swapping roles. You’re going away from the family and I’m going to family.

April Edwards 9:07 Yep, yep, yep, that’s fine. I and you bring your dog with you too, right?

Mackenzie Zera 9:12 I’m actually going to leave him at home. It was just I travel with him all the time. But my brother has a dog with a new baby and I’m just like it’s too much.

April Edwards 9:23 Yeah, yeah, well, he is going to miss you. I have to go drop my dog off. Now I have a funny story about that. In Chicago with our first dog years ago, we we left the dog in the backyard with with her friend shadow. And she was probably only a year old or something like that. We went up the street to go grab some beers and we came back and there was a hole under the fence and she was gone and poor shadow shadow was just looking at us like I don’t know anything. I didn’t do anything. So we’re you know we’re obviously concerned looking for our dog and everything and apparently she had walked in a local store this was in Wisconsin, I believe. No, it was in Chicago. So she had walked in a local store. And I guess this mom and daughter ended up taking her home. And granted she had her name Bella with the phone number. But yeah, the they did not call us right away. And I think the person that was running the store saw like, must have gotten Bella’s our phone number and eventually called us and said, Hey, like these people pick the dog up. And anyway, it was kind of it was kind of cute because the little girl named renamed her. Shoot, what was it pebbles or something like that?

Mackenzie Zera 10:42 Just total disregard for the name tag

April Edwards 10:46 And she was just sitting at the door when we went to go get her like I’m leaving. Yeah, you probably would have had a better life with that little too bad. You’re coming with us?

Mackenzie Zera 10:57 Oh, yeah, no.

April Edwards 10:58 Anyway, we’re dropping our second dog right now. Miss Coco, who loves so much. We’re dropping her off at a friend’s house. And I have I have to keep telling them. I’m like I’m taking my dog back when I get home. So anyway, a little dog conversation for all of us doggy lovers out there. So what else? I got to speak with Amy Breen with one of the DeckX Talks. And it was so rewarding from so many levels. The first thing is I’m just really grateful for all of the people that showed up. I spoke last year, but it was it 7:30 In the morning in Vegas, and I think 90 people signed up but there were only a handful of people there and I don’t blame them. So anyway, it was nice that our spot was a little later in the day. And I got some really good feedback from it. So we’ll we’ll be sharing clips of that talk. And you know, hopefully you guys get some good stuff out out of it. But it was really nice to share the stage with Amy she’s so brilliant. I call her a badass and I felt like we you know, we just kind of Jive together pretty well. So hopefully you guys enjoy that and if anybody else checked out any of the Deck X Talks, please you know like, let us know you know what your thoughts are? Let Chris Breen know let you know Pops and Margie from NADRA. No, you know, the more feedback that they get, the more inclined they’ll be to even put more effort into it next year, but they just did such a solid job. It was really nice. So I was I was very proud to be there. And there were quite a few people that had questions afterward. So that was nice to just see that people were engaged and I hate to toot my own horn but there were several people that did come up to me and said that it was a really valuable talk and I had one fella Mackenzie I can’t remember if he was from Nebraska or Arkansas, Arkansas.

Mackenzie Zera 12:54 You okay, Arkansas? What about one of the two?

April Edwards 12:59 So, yeah, he said that it was it was you know, one of the best talks that he got and probably the most valuable so I was like you know what, it’s nice to hear that stuff that keeps us going you know, so pretty cool

Mackenzie Zera 13:12 You are valid.

April Edwards 13:16 But what else on there were so whenever you go to Deck Expo, a lot of the manufacturers spoil the contractors and take them out to awesome parties. So I know that decorators spoiled some folks and did some K1 racing, and, of course, all kinds of amazing dinners. And we got to go to the welcome party, which was pretty interesting, right? I mean, we didn’t stay that long. But it was I mean, it was cool. It was, Look I don’t go out to clubs. Okay, um, I’m, I’m a mom with the mom van. And I like early mornings. And you know, I’m a little bit older now. But it was it was pretty interesting, though, you know, wait in line and see what the actual cover charge would be if you had to pay and then we got it and it was straight up club music.

Mackenzie Zera 14:04 Wise, if you know, the venue was really awesome. I thought it was like the perfect setting. And I loved how they had the they had these little mermaids. These beautiful women they had these little mermaid costumes on with their tails and they’re sitting next to the pools. And so that was a cool feature but the club music we definitely probably could have gone without that. I think it was the wrong wrong demographic wrong clientele. But we didn’t stay long enough to see if things back crazy. Yeah.

April Edwards 14:35 I forgot about the mermaids. I didn’t see the mermaid pictures.

Mackenzie Zera 14:38 I’ll have to send them to you. They’re good.

April Edwards 14:42 So are you still there? Okay, you pause for a second? Yeah, I’m sure none of the fellas got pictures with the mermaid so I don’t know if the wives would like that too much. But yeah, pictures with the mermaids just seemed right

Mackenzie Zera 14:54 like two women. predominantly male environment. It was like oh, let’s go say hello to them. Amazing get a picture. Yeah,

April Edwards 15:02 well, we got to meet some guys from Belgium. And that was really cool to hear what their experience was like. And, you know, it’s always nice to hear how things are in different countries. And again, like what their experience is like coming over here. So that was pretty cool. They were from the full side, there’s just so many people to meet. So many stories to hear and all of that. So that was pretty cool. But yeah, we didn’t stay there very long. We ended up leaving and I told Mackenzie, I’m like, we gotta go get these tacos. And I don’t know what you were feeling at the time. But I think they were some pretty damn good tacos.

Mackenzie Zera 15:36 I raved on and on about that. Home one, when April and I were in line, I like took a video of the place. I’m taking pictures of my food. As soon as I got back to the hotel, I called up Cory, my boyfriend. And I was like, you have to look, you have to look at the pictures. You have to see this video. Like, these are the best tacos I have ever had. And they were so good. The next day, we went back to our booth at the expo and our neighboring booth. I told them about it. And so that night, they went there too. And the next day, they came back and they’re like, those were the best tacos. I mean, the tacos might have been the highlight of the trip. They were so good.

April Edwards 16:14 Yeah, I know. And what’s so funny about it is you know, we live in San Diego. So Tijuana is right there. And of course we’ve got amazing Mexican food here and we go all the way to Vegas to have like the best tacos in the world. And the restaurant was called something like Deewana tacos. Bordeaux’s Tijuana tacos or something. If you guys are there, check it out. It’s worth it. And they’re super busy during lunchtime. I mean, there’s a line and it’s crazy pants. But we were there. Later on in the evening, when everybody else is probably wining and dining at nice places. And we were getting. I mean, it was like the cheapest food to everywhere that we went.

Mackenzie Zera 16:51 So good.

April Edwards 16:53 Like, go I was gonna say it almost seemed like a couple of tacos were cheaper than a bottle of water at the convention center.

Mackenzie Zera 17:01 Yeah, for sure. And funnily enough, April, and I ate some sort of tacos, Mexican food every single night that we were there. We didn’t plan on it. But three, three nights of our meals were all taco Mexican food related, and I’m not even mad about it.

April Edwards 17:21 I love it. Yeah. Yeah, that was surprising. But the airport, Mexican food was actually really good. But we’re really ravishing too.

Mackenzie Zera 17:29 So alright, well, let’s

April Edwards 17:32 get into some meat and potatoes here for anybody that’s listening. So I would say. So what I’d like to do is just kind of talk about our experience a little bit. And then I’ve got a list of takeaways. So kind of some Cliff Notes from some of the Deck X Talks that I attended, and then just talking to some different people. So I would say just, my, the, I think the best part of this experience is just meeting up with people in person. And this industry is amazing. I mean, I can go on and on, which I always do, but I’ll save you guys from, you know, the redundancy of me praising this industry like I do, but everybody is so nice. And you see people and it’s like, you’ve known them for years, and they’re so open arm and I love how I mean, honestly, I we have a client in Chicago that’s, you know, referred one of his competitors to us. And that says a lot about character. And I don’t know, if it’s just the folks that we ended up meeting with, but they’re just really good people. It was really nice to see some of our clients too, because we serve deck builders across the country. And that means that, you know, really the only time we do get to see them in person is at these events. I mean, we do zooms and stuff on a monthly basis, we touch in touch base with our clients, and of course, you know, we’re always texting and stuff back and forth. But, you know, being able to see him in person and you know, nurture those relationships and all of that, it’s just, you know, is pretty nice. So, and then we we also had the opportunity to grab a couple of video testimonials, which I am so excited to share with everybody. I mean, they were legit. It was really cool to hear our clients experience. And it wasn’t just, you know, generic responses like they went into some detail. I mean, my and Andy Henley in his testimonial, my eyes were terrible. I’m just I guess I left you know, very proud. I think that a lot of people knew who we are. And we just got to really talk to a lot of folks it was it was a wonderful, do you. Do you have any takeaways?

Mackenzie Zera 19:48 Yeah, I would 100% agree with you. I think the biggest thing for me was connecting with people and meeting people you know, especially for April and I were in a Digital World we’re remote and we’re alone all the time. And we don’t really see a lot of people in a workspace setting. So it was really cool to just see some of our clients in person like I was standing at the booth while I think April was up giving her speech. And I looked across the way and I noticed a familiar face in the crowd. And it was Carsey from O’Keefe bill. And her and I kind of locked eyes. And it took us a second for us to both register who each other was because we never see each other in person. And honestly, we never really see each other in zoom, we just probably see each other’s like, images on each other’s website. And so soon as I saw her, like, I got up from the booth and I walked over and like her and I just had like, a hug that you would have with like your high school best friend, like when he hugged and it just felt natural. And so it was just cool to see our clients in person, connect with them on a different level, and then meeting everybody else in the industry speaking with some of like the manufacturers or, you know, other folks who play into these businesses, for deck builders and kind of learning about their products. I like, for example, I really enjoyed the conversation that we had with the gentleman, I think he was the president of HF, HFS. Financing. And, you know, just listening to him. And we kind of got some tidbits and feedback on like how we can further integrate some of their products into our clients websites. And you know, just information that we didn’t know. So I thought that was really cool. And then the last thing is just a big testimony to all the work that April’s been doing these last three years is, you wouldn’t believe how many people came up to me when I was at the booth by myself. And we had all of our stuff out there and April’s image was on a couple of different things. And people would walk up and they point out and like, I’ve seen that face before, like, I know who that person is like, this is this is you guys, but they had never met April or spoken to her like she’s just so present everywhere that people are really recognizing who you are and what you do. And I think that’s also kind of what you had said was a big difference this year versus last year is that you know, people knew you and it wasn’t you just you know, introducing yourself, you already kind of have that presence, and it was people coming up to you and like wanting to learn more.

April Edwards 22:27 And I mean, look, tooting horns is one thing. But I think what I’m more proud about is that I’ve owned a marketing agency since 2012. And we were a generalist, I always say we were the general construction company of marketing agencies doing everything for everyone. And it was really hard to practice what you preach as a marketer when you don’t have one message to one audience. And I just didn’t like that I didn’t feel good about that. I didn’t like telling people how they should be doing their marketing when I wasn’t kicking ass at my own. So I think that it’s just a real testimony to be consistent with your marketing, because we started as nothing. Three years ago, in this space, I had absolutely nothing to do with this industry, apart from working with one client. And I love the experience so much that I decided to go the experience working with the client. I mean, I just thought we spoke the same language. I mean, I actually have a video on the site that goes into more detail about that. But you know, three years later, so the first you know, first Deck Expo, I came and I was so nervous. I didn’t know anybody. I had not met anybody in person, I had, you know, maybe done one marketing campaign and reached out some some people, but that was really my first experience. Learn, you know, meeting people and building relationships and Heather and pops and Margie from NADRA were complete open arms, and as was everyone else. And it’s just been so amazing. So anyway, the testimony is that we do practice what we preach. And, you know, I really do care about what we do. So much so that that’s why I’m in marketing, because we have a real opportunity to help people have a better life for themselves by building their business. I always say like, I got to the point in my own career where I didn’t want to have a business that was dependent on my availability. And so, you know, there’s a lot that I’ve done within my own business to help with that as an entrepreneur, business owner. And that’s what I want for my clients too. So anyway, you know, I’ve it’s just I guess we’ve come a long way and I just want everybody that’s listening to know that if you’re consistent, you know you you will build a name for yourself and you will be the best known deck builder in your area where people already know like and trust you before they pick up the phone and that’s a lot of what we do. So make sure that you’re getting out there and you’re being consistent and you can go to events like this and have a milestone of accomplishment, which was really good. So anyway, thank you so much for saying that it was, it was, it was a pretty cool experience. So I want to say that, um, one of the things that I learned, which is really interesting, because as a vendor, they’re essentially, you wouldn’t think that, you know, we would go there to learn things, like, we’re supposed to go there and sell, right, like, buy our stuff, buy our stuff. But, I mean, we do so much we represent our clients to a much different degree than a lot of businesses, like we have to know our clients business intimately in order to produce content for them, in order to build their website in order to really represent and push their brand forward. And so I have to constantly learn about the business side of things where leaks are, and how we can better support our guys, not just with bringing in a bunch of leads, but you know, saving them time in their sales process. And then, you know, getting assets like photos and videos and things like that, that are really going to help them shine. And then you know, we just get to promote it and tell the world how amazing they are. So I would say, a couple of takeaways that I got that stand out the most are the importance of owning a business, just like I said, having a business that’s not dependent on your time. And I think that, I mean, I heard it from some key players there some other manufacturers and some other deck builders, or some Oh, geez, that have been in the space for a while, just saying that, you know, a lot of these guys like, you know, they, you guys get, I mean, it’s the same with me, I went to art school, I was passionate about being creative, you know, and then I ended up starting a business and fast forward, you know, however, gosh, I don’t even know 20 years later, here I am. But and it’s been a whole journey as everybody else has. But typically, people start a business because they’re super passionate about their craft, you know, and a lot of Deck Builders start because they’re very passionate about their craft, and plus, they don’t want to work for someone else, right, they see an opportunity, a lot of us find an opportunity to do something better, you know, or maybe something more meaningful, but then we end up creating a job for ourself. Meaning that, you know, we’re grinding, you know, we’re wearing multiple hats and grinding and not really treating it like a business. And so I think that’s just, there’s, there’s so much stuff like, I’m a very feelings person, I mean, if I, if I have, if I’m inspired, if I have that motivation, if I have a vision, there’s nothing that’s going to stop me, I will put in the work, I will, I’m very determined, but I’m not going to do shit. Unless I have a vision for what I want. And actually, that’s a good segway, because one of the key takeaways I got from one of the deck X talks was knowing where you want your business to go. So don’t you, don’t just be in a hamster wheel. And you’re just going going going actually listen to podcast today. And they were talking about how you know, you get ready for the day, and then you get in your truck. And then you know, you’re planning out your day while you’re driving to a job site or something that’s like, how are you? How are you going to accomplish bigger goals if you don’t sit down and like plan? You know, and I think that having things on your calendar, like if it’s not on your calendar, it’s not getting done. And I’m very much like that, like, sometimes people have to schedule meetings with me just so I can like, approve things or you know, put my focus on it. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that, I’m just trying to get out of being in your business and working on it. And under and you You deserve it, you guys deserve it. You guys work really hard. And you know, you gotta put a price on your time too. So trying to delegate some admin type of stuff, to you know, so that you’re not the one that’s having to answer the phones or do your bookkeeping, that type of stuff, I think is really important. But I definitely want to challenge you as we go into a new year to really evaluate where your time is going, put a price on it and visualize where you want your business to be. And I’m going to skip around here because I just think that this was so so good. I mean, Amy and Chris Breen Oh, they they run an amazing business and they have a vision for their business. It’s so big that their team shares the vision, like their vision is to help support their team with their vision. It’s amazing. And I thought it was really great how they said include your team in your your planning. I just thought that was amazing. So let’s see I have some notes here. Um Let me find it here. So know where you’re going with your business. And if you don’t know where you’re going with your business, your team isn’t going to know and how are you guys all going to work towards something if you guys aren’t on the same page, so this wasn’t a takeaway, I don’t believe from Deck x, but just from my own perspective, like having weekly stand ups with your team, you know, people that are out, you know, in the field versus, you know, or a job sites versus, you know, those are in the office or whatnot, you know, just having those regular touch points with each other to have that camaraderie, and celebrate, you know, each other. And touch base is really good. I know, for us, we have a virtual team. And boy, is that a challenge, you know, to have a culture, but I think we do a pretty good job with it. I mean, I can speak to that, but it’s not gonna really apply to a lot of you builders. But we do quarterly updates, we started doing those this year. And it’s great because it gives me as a business owner the opportunity to share my vision, and really talk about how we took the steps to get closer to that in the previous quarter. And then what our plans are going to be for the next quarter. And we even and our quarterly, I call it a company growth huddle with a word that we can all kind of like a mantra, right like that we focus on, and I have the team come up with the word. And I’m always just so blessed to hear that we’re kind of all on the same page when we come up with the word which is pretty cool. So So yeah, just the idea of not being imprisoned in your business, too. That was something I wrote down, which I thought was pretty powerful, because it happens man, like, you know, if you have a business that’s dependent on your availability, sometimes you can’t have dinner with your family, or, you know, I mean, I went through it, where I would go on trips to see friends when I was younger, and I had have to, like, I couldn’t go and hang out or really be present, because I had to work the whole time, you know. So just really important to have good balance. So what else, some other tips, I just I love a few key things. I’m talking about business growth at deck at the deck X talks, talking about a world class experience being quick to implement, and then lots of stuff on SOPs and recruitment. So I’ll go over some bullet points here. As far as building a world class experience, this is something that is very, very important to me. I think that all of us like we build things, right, you guys build decks, we build websites and marketing campaigns, but the other half of it is the experience for the person that’s investing in these things. And you need to make sure that they always know what to expect. And you know that you’re holding their hand the whole time. And you know, really leading them along a pleasant experience. I think Brendan Casey was the one that said how important it is to just even like pick up after yourself at the job site, and how, you know, like, going above and beyond, you know, to blow all the dust or whatever, and really clean it up so that it looks super stellar afterward is, to me, that’s icing on the cake. And you know, the details are what really separates you. So I thought that was really good advice. And then somebody else said, and I apologize, I can’t remember, I think this was on one of the deck panels. And I can’t remember who said it. But they said if you are able to show up and give your client a high five after the project is done, then you’re doing good. But if you can’t do that, you’re not doing a good job. And I love that. And then that’s a good segue to talk about your team. So I love to this in terms of recruiting is that when you recruiting, envision if you could go camping with that person. You know what I’m saying? How cool is that? Like, if you’re really going to have a team? Like I mean, we spend a lot of hours

Mackenzie Zera 34:15 And you want to be friends with them like well, you know, yeah, you want to enjoy their company.

April Edwards 34:20 Yeah, yeah. I mean, you want to make sure that you match well together no matter what and that. Well, the podcast I listened to earlier was talking about how, you know, you, you kind of ask each other like, Do you love each other and I know this is mushy and everything, but it’s true. I mean, if you’re gonna, like, everybody needs help, you know, and we got to be able to support one another. We’re a team and to say like, Do you love somebody might sound like dramatic, but it’s true. Like that’s the type of culture I want to have, you know. So anyway, I just I really liked that analogy. Excuse me, and like I said, there are some things that I got from this that I am going to apply so I I spoke with our HR director and we, we have, you know, our our mission statement and, and then our tagline and so forth. But we always want to sorry, one second, we always want to kind of like ask questions during the interview process that, see if they’re in alignment with that, you know, and kind of what their thoughts are without telling them, right. So our mission is empowering, potential and enriching lives. And so that’s something that’s really important. Like, we want people that are driven that, you know, don’t just want to make things but want to make a bigger impact, right. So like, asking them questions to try and figure out if they’re on the same page is really good. But the other is my takeaway, and what I had talked about with our HR director was asking people questions that help you identify if they are on the same page, with your core values. And she was really like she she hadn’t done that she hadn’t taken it that far. But that was something that somebody mentioned. And, and I think that’s important, very important, very important, because that kind of puts a framework to what you guys are all doing. So some good, some good feedback there. And then, Always know your numbers, Always know your numbers, Always know your numbers, Always know your numbers. It’s so important. And this is, this is key, like, even even the talk that Amy and I had, it’s like, I mean, like, if you get if you don’t get anything else from this talk Other than that, you’re good. Like don’t even listen to anything else we say, is matter of fact, don’t even apply anything that we’re saying. Unless you know your numbers, because you’re just kind of you know, winging it and throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what works. And so when you know your numbers, you can plan before you hire, which is really important, you’ll be able to say, you know, based off of my sales projections and workload allocation, and all of that, and cash flow, this is when I’ll be able to hire with enough time to train this person for, you know, when when we need them, or when we need to utilize them, right. And then I think the the last takeaway with hiring was that humans, and I wish I would have wrote down who said these things, so please, if you’re listening to this, let me know I want to give you credit, but humans want to be on a winning team. So I did speak a little bit about promoting your culture on social media and our talk. And the thing is, is like if you’re not, if you’re not promoting your accomplishments, on social media, on your website, things like that, then potential recruits aren’t going to know that stuff. And people want to be a part of something bigger. So make sure that you are posting that stuff. And with that said, you know, also if you if you are participating in you know, different programs that NADRA has going on deck for soldier, you know, the deck safety certification and some of the other programs that they have, if you are winning some of those deck awards, please make sure you’re promoting that stuff. Again, on your website, and on social media, it’s so important. And so your marketing does not only, you know, help you get more leads in the door, but it’s you know, with your prospects and get the type of customers that you want, but it also helps build out your team. And I always say you get to a point where your motto should be always be recruiting, you know, because you, you always want to have the best of the best. So just just know that, you know, people want to be a part of something bigger, and they want to be a part of a winning team, and you got to make sure that the world knows about it. So, um, what else the other is, I categorize this as being quick to implement, which is also something that I hear from a lot of the successful agency owners and a group that I’m in in a coaching and accountability group that I’m in, and everybody says that, like, be quick to implement. So if you have an idea about something, make it happen, like don’t wait on it, and definitely don’t try to perfect things. I’m sure I’ll look back at this podcast. And you know, be disgusted because as we keep doing this, we’re gonna get better and better at it. But I didn’t want to stop and wait until everything was perfect. And we had a fancy studio and all of this because I want to help now, You know, and, you know, we’ll we’ll get better as we go. And that will be great. But I think more important than that is that act on decisions. You know, if you make a decision on something, make it happen. And again, this was something that was a takeaway from these Deck X Talks. So definitely go next year and, you know, hopefully, Legacy Academy and NADRA does this so that you can get some of these juicy nuggets. And then I’m kind of excited to talk to Mackenzie about this, because you know, she’s part of my team. But look, I like to say that I’m very optimistic with my time. And I really like to try and throw a lot in there because they have so many ideas I want them to, I want them to happen, you know, and so act with urgency to move your business forward. And I’m guilty of that. Like, there’s a lot of things I want to do and, but if I don’t do that, like even just trying to get this podcast in, before I leave for vacation, things aren’t going to happen, there’s going to be a million reasons why you can’t do things, but you got to challenge yourself. And, you know, I guess if you’re getting stagnant, then you’re not going to work with a sense of urgency, but, you know, I really want to be, I want to be able to help more people, you know, I want to make a bigger impact. And, and so in order to do that, I do kind of work with a sense of urgency. And I think that, you know, that was a really good recommendation for any business owner. So now you know, MacKenzie,

Mackenzie Zera 41:15 I’ll be ready.

April Edwards 41:16 Everyone’s like, everyone’s like, simmer down April, simmer down. I’m like, I have these ideas make it happen. But I think the team does a pretty good job, they work well together. And I have this note here, again, if anybody’s listening, let me know, because I’m realizing I maybe maybe take better notes next time. But I wrote down, everybody gets tested the same. And I think this had to do with your team. I really hope that the people that were in the deck X talks are listening to this so that you can help me get my information, right. But I think that this applied to your team members. So if you’re, you know, like, maybe this has to do with not playing favorites. And it’s really good. Like you had mentioned earlier, you’re like, Well, you want to be friends? Well, you do. But everybody still has to, you know, reach the same goals. And I think, I think what this was about was making sure that if, if there’s an issue that you address it right away with an employee, and even if they are friends like you, you have to treat them the same, you know, and let them know that they screwed up. And that, you know, if it happens again, there’s, there’s gonna be a problem, you know, and that’s not an easy thing to do. Trust me, it really sucks. That’s probably the worst part of being a business owner, but good advice. And I think the other team members would appreciate that too. You know, instead of letting things slide especially, you know, I guess the takeaway is, don’t have favorites, put your business hat on. I’m going back to numbers, watching your numbers every single day and then talking about them. So it’s one thing to look at your numbers, it’s another thing to actually talk about it and figure out how you could refine them. And I don’t think that you can do this enough. And if you are out there swinging a hammer, you’re probably your numbers are the last thing you’re looking at, because you’re really just trying to build amazing work and, you know, serve your your customers. So, you know, if I could give any advice on that, it’s kind of going back to the calendar, like make sure that you reserve some time to look over your numbers and, you know, see, see what you got to tweak, you know, because like we’re not doing this for fun. This isn’t charity in the end, you know what I mean? It’s nice that we don’t have to work for anybody else. Although I’ll tell you, I am my worst boss. You know, my boss sucks. Like, she works me like crazy. She doesn’t let me sleep sometimes, you know, things like that. And I think we all you know, we all want to get out of that. So make sure that you know, you’re looking at your numbers and you’re adjusting things so that you’re reaching your goals and having the freedom that you want. The podcast I listened to earlier, you know, they were just talking about how they were they started listening to a podcast and they were like, Oh man, like this is really great. Because you do you get really you get a ton of ideas as I’ve already like, you know, mentioned a few things today, you get a ton of ideas and you you you learn, you know, and if you’re not setting aside the time to do that type of stuff. It’s not going to happen, you know. So, what else um, SOPs making sure that you do the same thing every time. Now Amy had a really great talk on this. She said she she doesn’t write SOP. So SOPs or standard operating procedures. There’s a million tasks that we all do in our business and most of the time as business owners, it’s all in our head. And you got to get it out because again, you don’t want a business is dependent on you all the time. So what Amy does is she does a brain dump whenever she gets a new hire For a particular role, and then she has the new hire, kind of update, either create the process from her brain dump, or update the process. And then that new hire is expected to find flaws in the process. And then to come to the table with recommendation. So I think that’s great. Because if you have a team member that’s participating in that, then they kind of own part of the company. And I think it makes them proud. And it also can show you who’s you know, who’s really dedicated and who’s not. But I think that’s a really good thing. And as a business owner, it’s like, trying delegate whatever you can try and delegate. Okay, just a couple more things here. So retaining so retaining talent, so people leave, due to their boss, not their job. And this hits home, you know, because I know that I’m crazy. I know that I expect a lot. I’m a super picky designer, and I want things to be great. I’m very much aware that I’m a perfectionist, and that gets in the way, you know, that’s gotten me to where I am. But in a lot of ways, it’s just, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s not good either. So, always, again, take the time to have some space to think about how you might be towards your employees, and figure out where the problems are with you, and fix it. Because if you want to have a successful team, and people that are going to stick around, I mean, you need to figure out, you need to figure out what’s wrong with you. And you need to constantly work on that, you know, so so make sure that you’re reflecting inward and you know, not being an asshole. But also letting people know when they’re being an ass. And then get creative in the way that you retain people. Okay, so there is a panel with Cascade decks. So cascade decks was like 45 employees. And who else was it? Oh, shoot, I can’t remember who it was. But they, they buy new trucks for their cruise. They pay for their phones, all this stuff? I mean, that’s amazing. And it would be great if we Mackenzie, would you like if I bought you a car?

Mackenzie Zera 47:18 Yeah, absolutely, I share a vehicle. My boyfriend right now it’s called, like a new one.

April Edwards 47:25 So we all can’t buy our employees cars, but you can still get creative and how you retain them. And who knows what that is, like, maybe it’s just, you know, spoiling them every once in a while at different events, or just going out of your way to let them know how much you know, you value them or gifting them with things or I mean, I’m open for everybody to share their ideas, because I think that’s a very important part. And, you know, as business owners, like, I mean, I’m guilty, I will, I’m on to the next thing, like as soon as we solve a problem, like my mind’s already going to the next thing that we need to work on. But you really do have to stop and say, Wow, look at what we did, thank you, like, we did this together, or you did this or whatever it is, and really taking the time to recognize that stuff. So I’m so super important. And I guess I have some more takeaways, some ideas that I got from this, but maybe I’ll share that for later. There are some some things that I want to do as a business that I think you’re gonna make a nice impact in the in the industry. And maybe I’ll have a different podcast on that so that we can maybe encourage other people to do the same thing. So anyway, any final takeaways from from your side, MacKenzie, anything that I’ve missed,

Mackenzie Zera 48:55 I think I think you’ve covered a lot. I like it’s all coming back to me now. I feel like we’ve absorbed so much information over those, what, three, four days, like met so many people, so many names, so many faces. And so I’m just really proud of you for taking these takeaways, and writing them down because they were like in one ear out the other but now they’re back.

April Edwards 49:20 Yep. Yeah. Which is why I wanted to do this right away, because I gotta get it fresh. So um, so anyway, we’re from Deck Builder Marketers. We have a ton of resources on our site, if there’s tons of guides, articles, and then of course, we’re going to be publishing podcasts regularly and we really look forward to, for the most part, having a lot of guests on the podcast, different pros within the industry. So if you go to forward slash podcast, you can apply to be on the show and trust me, the application process is nothing formal or crazy. It’s just we kind of want to know like what your thoughts are on you know what you’d want to talk about. And I know a lot of you guys so I’m going to be reaching out to some folks and and then, you know I put together and I like a nice little kind of agenda, nothing that we really need to follow by we want to keep these conversational and really just know your story. So if you think that you have something that is would be really valuable for other people within the industry, whether they’re just starting out or you know, their industry pros, it will be super helpful for anyone. So we definitely want to invite you to, you know, to be on the podcast and then of course, subscribe so that you don’t miss any future ones. And stay tuned for the next episode. And as always, keep moving forward.


April Edwards

Owner & Lead Marketing Strategist
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