Catalytic Leadership

Unleashing the Power of Local Growth: Ross McDaniel's Insights on Leadership and Business Transformation

December 18, 2023 Dr. William Attaway Season 2 Episode 22
Catalytic Leadership
Unleashing the Power of Local Growth: Ross McDaniel's Insights on Leadership and Business Transformation
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Experience the thrill of growing your business to new heights as we sit down with Ross McDaniel, a seasoned growth strategist and founder of FencePost and the Local Growth Formula Resource. Ross takes us on a captivating journey through his leadership evolution and unwavering dedication to community development. His profound understanding of local growth formulas that successfully connect leading home service businesses with potential customers is nothing short of inspiring. 

This episode also explores the importance of leveraging the diverse skills of team members, fostering leadership traits, and embracing challenges for the betterment of the community. From establishing a system for receiving calls and gathering reviews from satisfied clients to the significance of continual skill enhancement, Ross leaves no stone unturned. We also bring in the benefits of seeking outside perspectives through annual reviews and business coaches. So, gear up to tap into your leadership potential, conquer challenges, and transform your business growth trajectory. 

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Meet Dr. William Attaway, your guide to peak performance. As a seasoned Executive Mindset and Leadership Coach with nearly 30 years of experience, William empowers high-performance entrepreneurs and agency owners to conquer challenges and maximize their potential. Join him on the Catalytic Leadership podcast as he shares insights on achieving Clear-Minded Focus, Calm Control, & Confidence, helping you thrive in business and life.

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to Catalytic Leadership, the podcast designed to help leaders intentionally grow and thrive. Here is your host author and leadership and executive coach, dr William Attaway.

Speaker 2:

Hey, it's William and welcome to today's episode of the Catalytic Leadership podcast. Each week, we tackle a topic related to the field of leadership. My goal is to ensure that you have actionable steps you can take from each episode to grow in your own leadership. Growth doesn't just happen. My goal is to help you become intentional about it. Each week, we spotlight leaders from a variety of fields, organizations and locations. My goal is for you to see that leaders can be catalytic, no matter where they are or what they lead. I draw inspiration from the stories and journeys of these leaders and I hear from many of you that you do too. Let's jump in to today's interview. I am thrilled today to have Ross McDaniel on the podcast. Ross is a growth strategist with a decade of experience helping brands to succeed. With a passion for community development, ross established FencePost and the local growth formula Resource is dedicated to bridging the gap between top-notch home service businesses and their potential customers. With just four simple ingredients, any local business can see predictable and profitable growth. Ross's aim is straightforward developing communities by helping local businesses thrive. Ross, I'm so thrilled you're here. Thanks for being on the show.

Speaker 3:

Thanks for having me. As I said, it's an honor.

Speaker 2:

I would love for you to share some of your story with our listeners, Ross, particularly around your journey and your development as a leader. How did you get started?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think the development part of that is still very operative, as leaders were always still developing Myself, I'm no exception to that role. I think my leadership journey, as it pertains to my entrepreneurial endeavors, really began about 11 years ago, when I found a great lady that I'm going to marry her and then realized I got to figure out how to provide for her. Next thing have these visions of grandeur and everybody's going to graduate college, go off to a huge city and do big things for whatever Fortune 100 firm that you're going to do two big things for. Life just has different plans. I ended up getting a really cool internship, worked for free for six months at a small agency which at the time, was specialized in digital marketing. It's no longer a specialty now of anybody's right, but at the time it was pretty niche. He became like a mentor, an older brother and myself and another guy had the chance to learn small business ropes. Over the next five, six years, after getting my first full-time salary of $23,000 a year, we just started moving up the rungs. My time there at that agency really taught me the ropes of what does it mean to own something? What does it mean to own something that impacts others. What does it mean to command a team? How do you command a team in a way that is actually going to maximize their giftings while at the same time producing the results you need to in a very customer-facing business? Really, after that about six, seven years in decided to part ways and ended up setting out on my own. Here we have Fence Post. That has really derived a lot of the learnings from that time agency side really getting exposure to a lot of cool clients and taking some of those principles and distilling them down and getting to run my own team and getting to really invest not only in the monetary business KPI metric side of entrepreneurship, but also doing what your intro of me said really getting to invest in the leadership traits that are associated with community development. That's what's important to us at Fence Post.

Speaker 2:

I love that. I think that is so much of a bigger vision than many entrepreneurs have, because it's not just about you, it's not just even about your company and your team. It's about the community that's around you and how to invest into that. That's such a bigger picture. I want to comment on that. It's just a big deal.

Speaker 3:

Thank you, I don't know. I think a lot of times again myself, no exception. We can get caught up in the dollar and trying to really pursue okay successes defined by the black or red line at the end of the year. I think after a while my eyes were open to. Needs are always going to be provided for, but these are actual I use the word giftings giftings that we were provided and they're having real impact. The only reason they're not having even more impact is our hard orientation towards those things. Starting to look at what is a Google ad doing for the community or what's a review doing for the lifeblood of this business that is impacting the community. Yeah, reshaping some of that. I went off on a tangent.

Speaker 2:

Sorry, thank you. No, that's great, I'm taking it. It's okay. You use the word gifting there and I love that. When you were talking about the team that you lead maximizing their giftings, I think that is such a fresh take on leadership. I often talk about how team members don't want to be seen as just a cog in your machine. They want to be seen as real 3D human beings.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, 3D human being. That's good work.

Speaker 2:

Maximizing their giftings means you first have to listen and recognize what they are and then say hey, how can I help you to hit your capacity while you're helping us hit our capacity?

Speaker 3:

That's right, I think, going back to that experience at that small agency and seeing that modeled for us and maybe not even modeled perfectly to the 5 out of 5 stars, but certainly seeing the intent and the desire to maximize those things and providing immense runway for myself, my counterpart and other team members to just go implorish and go explore, go try to figure out how to be the best you can be, because it's going to impact us positively as well and impact your client.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. I mentioned in the intro that you have a four simple ingredient recipe. If you will, the four step local growth formula. Would you be willing to share that with us?

Speaker 3:

Sure, yeah, so it's not rocket science. The formula these are the words, like science and formula and math and whatever else. Those are probably a bit presumptuous, but our formula is really first principles Visibility, or business has to be highly visible, and not just visible in the sense that there's a single hung and a billboard on highway 20, but more you have to be visible where your customers are actually looking to find you. For us, a lot of times, with blue collar home service businesses, that means a Google search. The second ingredient is going to be competency. Your business has to be as good or better than the competition, otherwise there's no reason somebody should come work for you. And I do believe that competency can include being well networked, having quality relationships. The third thing, forgive me, is going to be social proof. Social proof is when you are fulfilling this service or delivering this product for your customer. Do they tell people how great, how awesome, how much they enjoyed their experience with you? And when they can do that in a highly public, highly visible manner. That's called social proof. A lot of times what that looks like is a Google review. We want those five-star Google reviews all day long and we help clients figure out how to get more of those. The last thing would be referral, and this is more of an intangible but if we can help our customers sell for us in a way that they are joyfully doing, so, it's not a coercion, it's not a manipulation, it's truly. We are providing so much value for a customer that they're turning around and saying, hey, friend, you've got to also enjoy this value. That's when we've unlocked this really multiplying ingredient in a way that is going to help us unlock predictable and profitable local growth, and that's our goal is we want predictable and profitable local growth. So that's the four key ingredients visibility, competency, social proof and referral. If we can get those in play, we're going to have something.

Speaker 2:

That doesn't feel like a huge mountain that has to be climbed like any of those four, and yet how many of the people who come to you are missing one, two, three or even four of them?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think that's for a lot of us in life, right. I mean, all the pieces are there sometimes. Just take somebody else helping us piece them together. The puzzle pieces all come in the box, right? Unless you have a bunch of little kids, there's nothing missing. But we just have to have somebody to help guide us up the mountain, guide us along the path and figure it out. A friend of mine owns an agency called Jolly Sherpa and that's his old shtick is being the Sherpa guiding you up your growth mountain. I think Vince post in the same way helps you put that formula together. Whether you're a roofing company or an HVAC company or any other local footprint business, you just need somebody to help you piece those things.

Speaker 2:

That is so true and I've watched that time and time again with small business owners that there's this idea, this perception that, well, it's your business, so you've got to do it all, you've got to be good at everything, you've got to know it all and be able to guide yourself and pull yourself up by your bootstraps and not ask for help, et cetera, et cetera. And I think that is one of the most dangerous myths in the entrepreneurial world. Sure, because the fact is we meet people who know and are experts at what you're describing, and that's why people come to you.

Speaker 3:

I would agree. I think it can also be pretty lonely as solopreneurs, as entrepreneurs with aloof teams, entrepreneurs with tons of layers in between in terms of staff, like you can get pretty lonely, and sometimes that third party resource is helpful to not only provide a non-bias perspective but also be with you in the trenches in a way that maybe wouldn't be appropriate, or the giftings aren't there within your team itself to help facilitate that. So probably in much the same way you are for your clients yeah, I mean, we can act that way as well on the growth side.

Speaker 2:

And I love that because you help them see what they can't see, just like I do.

Speaker 3:

Ooh, that's a great way to say it. That's a better way to say it.

Speaker 2:

It's hard to see the whole picture when you're in the frame.

Speaker 1:

You can't see the whole thing.

Speaker 2:

You need somebody on the outside who can help you see stuff and I love that you bring the expertise to that for businesses that really need it but so often can't see that.

Speaker 3:

Getting caught in the rat race too. I mean, sometimes folks don't feel like they have time to see it. I know I fall in that trap too. Yeah, you just don't have time to see what you can see.

Speaker 2:

You know you've got a good bit of track, working with so many different companies and businesses and leaders. What would you say is the number one killer of local businesses?

Speaker 3:

Practically speaking. There's actually a statistic on this For local businesses, particularly local home service businesses 41% of phone calls in 2021, you know a couple of years ago now, but 41% of phone calls to local home service businesses went unanswered in 2021. Oh, I would say that right there. That's maybe not as the like in-depth emotional answer, but truly, if we're talking about stress relief in the form of increased bottom line or gaps to fill in our businesses, I mean let's just go into the phone, let's shrink that 41%, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Wow, I mean, that's pretty low hanging fruit.

Speaker 3:

I think it's right in the phone.

Speaker 2:

Yeah Right, yeah, wow, I think so. Why do you think that is? Why do you think that people don't answer the phone? And when they do answer the phone and somebody says, hey, I'm interested in your service, they don't ever circle back and close. That leads.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah, that's a great question. Probably goes back to what you were saying before about when you're in the frame. It's hard to see the frame and I think for many folks they probably think, oh, I missed this call here, I missed this call there, oh, I really should hire that admin person, but just haven't quite gotten around to it or just don't quite see how damaging it is to your business. Yeah, I think it's probably a lot of that. Why do you think that?

Speaker 2:

is. Sometimes it's the simplest steps that can make the biggest difference.

Speaker 3:

I think so. I think so. I think that's where we're talking about local growth formula. That's really. What it's all about is we're not trying to come in and apply some magic or be the silver bullet. We're really just trying to help you. See, here's the low end for here all the levers that you can pull to increase your bottom line by X, Y and Z percentage Just pull these first, pull these second. Don't pull these ever. That's what we want to help you do within that formula. That's so good.

Speaker 2:

Are there one or two things that people can do with this local growth formula, that they can start to implement this in their business right now?

Speaker 3:

I get that question all the time. I think the very first thing you need to do is what we just talked about Make sure you have a system of answering any and every phone call that comes into your business. To work with Finspost, you have to have an admin person. We can just make that a requirement. You have to have somebody that's man on the phone steering your operating business hours. I think that's the first thing. The second thing let's go ask for reviews. I mean, if we're having incredible customer experiences and if you've been in the marketplace, if you've been in business for longer than a couple of years, you have fantastic customer experiences. If you didn't, you just wouldn't be in business. Nobody has that long of a runway. We want you to go find those people. It's as simple as drafting an email in your Gmail, saving it and every time you have a customer interaction, just send that email. It says hey, thanks so much for letting us serve you. We really enjoyed it. We hope you did too, if you did. Reviews are the lifeblood of our business. Please leave us one. Here's a link. Let's go ahead and put that in front of them and make it easy. Now we've got all sorts of software and techniques and strategies and playbooks to go in and automate that and make it at scale. But in the short term, for free tomorrow, just go do that, you'll see it grow.

Speaker 2:

So good Ross. I know that you are a different leader today than you were five years ago, and I know that a year from now, five years from now, your business is going to require you to lead at a different level than it does today. How did you stay on top of your game? How do you level up your leadership skill so that you will be the leader that Fencepost needs you to be a year from now, five years from now?

Speaker 3:

Sometimes not very well, to be frank. I mean, yeah, that one's tough because, again, the frame I love that analogy the frame within a frame or being inside the frame. I think that is probably step one is find a person or a tool and resource or a mechanism, some sort of rhythm in your life that allows you to step outside of the frame. For me, that's been life-changing is going in and mapping out our just like our annual trajectory, our annual goals, and not only mapping out what we want, but going back in the past and saying, hey, this is how we did, do we meet the mark, do we miss it? And having a group of like-minded individuals that also go through that. So there's some reputational accountability there. I think that's been integral for me. One of my big rocks, my big goals here for this next year, is to actually get a business coach as well. So I think for many people that's been extremely effective and I'm hopeful it will be for our business as well. But just finding some way that you don't have to live in the frame all the time and you can remove yourself from it, yeah, I think that's healthy.

Speaker 2:

I've had coaches for years because I have blind spots, just like everybody else, and I need somebody to help me see what I can't see as an entrepreneur, as a leader, and so I have coaches in different parts of my life who are going to help me see in that vein, in that aspect. Oh hey, in this area, do you know this is going on? Do you know what you're saying? You know what you're coming across? I need that. So I think that's so healthy that you're thinking that direction, and I think the people who are listening probably struggle around this too, like is it time? Do I need that? Should I, can I?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. It really makes a difference, and that's where, to be frank, I don't know. Is another person required or is the annual review mechanism enough? I truly haven't landed on that, obviously because I'm just looking at a coach for the first time this next season of our business. But yeah, I'm all for exploring different levers, for sure.

Speaker 2:

And asking the right questions helps you get to the right answer. True, that's a good deal. So you've talked about what you have done so far with Fence Post and where you want to go. It's easy for somebody to look at you and say, oh Ross, man, his journey has just been up and to the right. There really hasn't been any struggles or challenges. He really hadn't struggled, like I am as an entrepreneur. If somebody were thinking that right now, what would you say to them?

Speaker 3:

We churned eight clients between June and August of this year. That is an anomaly, it's never happened before. But I've been doing this for more than a decade and been in business for four years now and yeah, those seasons it's not just a drop in the bucket. We're a boutique firm. We only want 25 clients. That's what we've set out as our bandwidth man. That crushes you. And when that happens I was faced with this over the last few months of OK, do we turn tail and say all is for not, or do we try to really dig in and try to find the gaps and the weaknesses? And it's the same very healing, cathartic process of review at the end of the year and review or planning for the next year. We found some gaps in our systems, we found some gaps in our processes and we're able to do that. The economy and labor currently doesn't help with those things with our type of client base, but at the same time there's always something you can find. So for anybody wondering, what does the up and to the right growth look like in a real-life company? I wouldn't know. That's just not reality and that's not the way it goes. You might catch lightning in a bottle one time. Ride that out as long as you can, but be prepared when it doesn't and be OK with that.

Speaker 2:

It's not your identity, love that so helpful, so transparent, and I appreciate the honesty there.

Speaker 3:

Sure, if we're not about authenticity and honesty, we don't have any business being in business. Well said.

Speaker 2:

I want to take you back to when you started in this field. If you could take what you know now and go back and tell yourself one thing what would you love to go back and tell yourself?

Speaker 3:

I think the biggest thing that has been characteristic in my entire entrepreneurial journey is the desire to control and know definitively the outcome. That is, again in the same vein of what we just talked about simply not a reality, particularly in the small business space. Right yeah, I would tell myself. Hey, do as much research as you possibly can between time A and time B. After time B, you got to make a call and make that call and stick with that call and be joyful that you made that call, regardless of the outcome.

Speaker 2:

Oh man, that's good, that's gold. That's so good. I think so many people are waiting for the moment of certainty before they make a decision. So many leaders I'll watch, just waiting until they're 100% sure you wait until you're 100% sure. When are you going to act?

Speaker 3:

Well, you're not. Yeah, and if anybody's waited to get married or waited to have a kid, or waited to go out on their own or whatever else I mean, when they inevitably do, they're like man why didn't I do this sooner? Why didn't I do this sooner? So true, yeah.

Speaker 2:

That's right. What do you want your legacy to be as a leader?

Speaker 3:

Fantastic question. I've actually given this a lot of thought here recently. I think as a leader, I want to be known as somebody that Walked the walk and lived the way he talked. I want to be known as somebody that is authentic and sought after relationships over profit. My hope is that being a good steward of my business, being a highly profitable business, will actually foster authenticity and foster greater connectivity. I'm hopeful that people will be able to see hey, that's a guy that was extremely successful, that lived out his calling. Yeah, I think the legacy part of that is truly just a way of doing things that people are already doing. I want that to be seen. Yeah, so good.

Speaker 2:

Love it. You know, often on this show I'll talk to leaders who are continual learners, like you are, and they understand that they don't know it all and they want to grow. They want to get better and that's part of their DNA, and often there's a book that has made a big difference in their journey. If I were to ask you is there a book that you would recommend that every leader listened to add to their to read list? What would you say?

Speaker 3:

I've given a few different answers to this. The one that I so I'm going to plug to the one that I often say on podcasts is Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller. He just lays out yes, fantastic, lays out the framework which I believe digital, marketing, print, newspaper, whatever, it's the cornerstone of how we tell stories today and everybody should read it, but I think one book that's really done wonders for me in my entrepreneurial journey is A Company of One by Paul Jarvis. Company of One, yes, is talking about what does it look like to have a thriving, successful company of one? But he even talks about Paul talks about how you can be a company of one within a big corporation, in a company that has multiple employees. Just a way of looking at profit and a way of looking at operating. That is, yeah, it ships the focus a bit and that's been super impactful for me.

Speaker 2:

Fantastic. I have not heard of this book and now I have to check it out.

Speaker 3:

Check it out.

Speaker 1:

I love that, I agree yeah.

Speaker 2:

You know, Ross, often people will leave an episode like this with one big idea. If you were to define what you want that one big idea to be, what would you want it to?

Speaker 3:

be. Growth is not linear, but it's also not complicated. I think that would be the theme of this episode, and if growth isn't linear, that means it's going to be up and down, but if it's not complicated, that means we should be over a period of time that's extended, and not just today or tomorrow. It should be up and to the right.

Speaker 2:

That's brilliant. I would like to have that on a card that I hand out to every business leader.

Speaker 3:

I thought to Well, Gospel Track, that's so fantastic. There it is, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Ross, I know people listening to this are going to want to stay connected with you and continue to learn from you. What is the best way for them to do that?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, come follow us on Instagram at FencepostCo, or follow us on Twitter. It's actually my personal handle at the Ross McDaniel. Either of those will be great. We look forward to having you trying to push out some good content.

Speaker 2:

Awesome. And if they want to talk about Fencepost and how Fencepost can help them, where do they go for that?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, come over to fencepostco and grab a free video assessment. We offer these little five minute video assessments. It gives us a great look into your business and will identify some learning and food stuff that, if you never talk to us again, you'll at least have some actionable items to take away. Love that.

Speaker 2:

Ross, this has been such a fascinating conversation with so much insight. Thank you for sharing so honestly and so openly today.

Speaker 3:

Thanks for having me on Truly insightful. Yeah, the thought provoking questions are what really gets it, so thank you.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for joining me for this episode today. As we wrap up, I'd love for you to do two things. First, subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss an episode, and if you find value here, I'd love it if you would rate it and review it. That really does make a difference in helping other people to discover this podcast. Second, if you don't have a copy of my newest book, Catalytic Leadership, I'd love to put a copy in your hands. If you go to catalyticleadershipbookcom, you can get a copy for free. Just pay the shipping so I can get it to you and we'll get one right out. My goal is to put this into the hands of as many leaders as possible. This book captures principles that I've learned in 20 plus years of coaching leaders in the entrepreneurial space, in business, government, nonprofits, education and the local church. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn to keep up with what I'm currently learning and thinking about. If you're ready to take a next step with a coach to help you intentionally grow and thrive as a leader, I'd be honored to help you. Just go to catalyticleadershipnet to book a call with me. Stay tuned for our next episode next week. Until then, as always, leaders choose to be catalytic.

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