Examining the Floor Plan of a Family-Owned Business
Grab your sledgehammer because we’re breaking down the wall of gender biases with Andrea Hood today! This week, our special guest shares her story of taking over her family business in a traditionally male-dominated industry. A life-changing decision turned what was at one time intended to be just a summer job into the now President of Atkinson Carpet.
In this episode, hear Andrea share what her business owner superpower is (it’s probably not what you think it is), what it’s like to take the helm in a family-owned business, and the key tools that have led her to succeed.
My favourite takeaway from this conversation is the point we make about increasing your prices. Do you worry that if you increase your prices you’ll lose business? You’d be surprised how many business owners struggle with this subject. Trust your gut, be transparent with your clients, and stop allowing fear to dictate your decisions.
It’s time to tune out the distractions and tune into another fantastic episode. This one might just leave you “floored!”
What’s in This Episode
- Leading as a woman in a male-dominated space
- “Lisa the Wireless Wonderwoman” (Sorry, were you expecting a man?)
- Don’t ask permission to increase your prices
- Why Profitability Assessments are key
- Navigating through disputes in a family-owned business
- Inflation and supply chain challenges in 2022
What To Do Next
- Join The Strategy Lab, Lisa’s insider entrepreneurial community that is learning, tackling, and coming together to support and challenge each other on all things business. Click here to join!
- Join Thought Readers and connect with other like-minded entrepreneurs in this popular book club for business owners.
- Subscribe to receive this podcast and regular weekly strategies to grow and shape your business. You’ll also be the first to know about upcoming courses, programs and exclusive LIVE training.
- Join the conversation on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn and share your insights from the show.
Where to Find Andrea Hood
- You can connect with Andrea on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or her website. And, don’t forget to check her out on Twitter!
- To visit her business Atkinson Carpet & Flooring on social media you can find them on Facebook and Instagram!
Books Mentioned in This Episode
CLICK HERE TO OPEN THE FULL TRANSCRIPT
Lisa Larter (00:01):
Welcome to, She Talks Business. If you’re an entrepreneur, business owner or aspiring mogul, chances are you want to learn more about marketing and mastering and monetizing your business. She Talks Business is where you’ll learn all of that and more. My name is Lisa Larter and I’m an entrepreneur, high school dropout, wiener dog enthusiast and your host. Let’s get started.
Lisa Larter (00:24):
Hey, everyone. Welcome to She Talks Business. I can’t wait for you to hear this episode with Andrea Hood. I especially cannot wait for you to hear her talk about her superpower, and it’s probably not what you think it’s going to be, and what it’s like to take the helm and run a family-owned business. And there’s one more thing that we talk about that I think is really, really, really interesting in this podcast, is we talk about the importance of letting go of attachment.
Lisa Larter (01:02):
So, if you’re someone right now who’s thinking about raising your fees in your business because everything costs so much more you’ll want to listen to this episode because what we talk about is going to help you think differently about the next decision you make in your business. All right, let’s get to that show. Welcome, everyone to this week’s episode of She Talks Business. We are still in our season on million dollar mind share, which I love because I am learning so much from these conversations and I just feel so blessed that I am able to have conversations with really super awesome, cool, smart, nice people like Andrea Hood. Andrea, welcome to the show.
Andrea Hood (01:51):
Thank you for having me, Lisa. I’m excited to be here.
Lisa Larter (01:53):
I’m thrilled you’re here. So, I want to read your bio and there’s a reason that I want to read your bio. So, I’m going to read first and then I’m going to talk about why. So, Andrea Hood is the owner and president of Atkinson Carpet & Flooring, a WBE certified commercial flooring company. In 2019, Andrea was honored as one of the top 10 emerging leaders in the commercial flooring industry by Floor Focus Magazine, which is huge, an emerging leader, great honor, strong woman, a natural born leader, Andrea guides management team of family members as well as union installers to deliver a unique and unmatched experience for clients in both the private and public sectors. She serves the Boston Metro area since 1988 and Atkinson Carpet offers a complete turnkey solution for their clients from design to installation. Their main goal is to create functional, beautiful spaces for their clients utilizing state-of-the-art sustainable materials.
Lisa Larter (03:07):
Andrea is passionate about three things, and the interesting thing is I’m passionate about two of them. One, living a healthy lifestyle. She’s a graduate of the Institute of Integrated Nutrition, supporting local small business, and it’s a bonus if they are family owned or women owned, and personal and business finance. She currently lives in Southern New Hampshire with her husband Allen and their Shih Tzus, Gus and Avie. So, I love that you love money, and I love that you are a dog mom like I am. And I love that you are this badass business woman who is in the flooring industry, which is amazing. I can’t wait to hear your unique perspective about working for a family owned business, leading a family owned business, working with unionized employees. There’s so much to unpack here that is not typical for a lot of women in business.
Lisa Larter (04:13):
But before we dive into that, I want to talk about the bio because I used to record intro after the show and I still will go back and I’ll record a little something, something because I always like to tease what we’re going to talk about before we get into the show. And last week, a client of mine, Em Roblin wrote a blog post about an experience that happened to her many, many years ago where she was doing a keynote on a big stage. And the person who was leading the keynote basically did a really loosey-goosey, familiar introduction of who she is for the audience. And she recounts the story of about how she felt off about the talk and the way people responded to her. Everything just felt off. So, she did some research and it turns out when women are powerfully introduced, they rise to the occasion, they deliver more powerful presentations, and they are perceived as more powerful and credible by the audience, but it has no impact on men. So, you could do a loosey-goosey-
Andrea Hood (05:32):
Lisa Larter (05:34):
… buddy, buddy, old Joe, glad you’re my dude friend introduction and a guy doesn’t care, but a woman is, not only does she respond differently, she is perceived differently from the audience. So, when I found this out, I actually went back and rerecorded my introduction for Emily Countryman because I realized I have relationships with every single person that I have on the show. And so, I have a tendency to be really casual in terms of the introduction. My tendency would’ve been like, I love Andrea. I know Andrea through The Trust. She’s a dog mom. She’s cool. She’s this, she’s that, and that is doing a disservice to women everywhere. So, I wanted to share that story because I think it’s really important for us to know that and understand that so that we can help each other.
Andrea Hood (06:26):
I love it. That’s very powerful. I never would’ve thought of that and I would’ve done something like what you were just describing like, “Oh, this is my friend, Andrea. Here she is,” but you’re right. It’s funny when you hear your bio too you’re like, “Oh, yeah, that is me.”
Lisa Larter (06:40):
Yeah, that is me. That is me. I have done that. And so, I think it’s really important, and because we’re talking about million dollar mind share, I think that one of the… And you can let me know your thoughts on this, but I think one of the mindset traps that we fall into is, well, it’s not really that big of a deal that I did over a million dollars in sales. I did seven figures, or eight figures, or I’ve done it for the last X number of years. Whereas, we both know the truth is 2% of women owned companies do it. So, it is a big fricking deal, and you’re a unicorn when you do it.
Andrea Hood (07:16):
Lisa Larter (07:17):
So we need to-
Andrea Hood (07:18):
I agree with you 100%. Yeah, when we heard that statistic at The Trust meeting back a month ago in Miami, I was shocked when it was only 2%. I was like, that made it to, I think it was seven figures. Is that what it was? Yeah, that made it to a million dollars and I was like, what?
Lisa Larter (07:33):
Andrea Hood (07:34):
2% of us.
Lisa Larter (07:35):
Dana said that it was 4% pre-COVID and now it’s 2%. Dana Jacoby is who I’m referring to, which is another really sad story because what it means is 50% of the women who had built seven figures and beyond businesses had to shift gears because of COVID. They had to bear the burden of taking care of all, all this other stuff. And 50% of those women-led businesses are no longer in that same category.
Andrea Hood (08:05):
It’s so sad. It’s so sad.
Lisa Larter (08:07):
Andrea Hood (08:09):
I only hope that as we get back to somewhat normalcy in our lives here that they can get be themselves back, but you and I both know that’s probably not the case for at least a portion of them, a good portion of them.
Lisa Larter (08:21):
Andrea Hood (08:21):
It’s hard to run a business. So, if you’re out or has even dropped off a little bit for a couple of years, it’s hard to get it back up. It can be hard. It can be challenging.
Lisa Larter (08:31):
It can be hard. It can be challenging. And we are our own worst critics. So, sometimes the stories we tell ourselves about our leadership abilities when things do slide backwards a little bit isn’t necessarily a pretty story. And so, it’s harder to get that upward momentum. So anyways, let’s talk about you. How did you get into this family business and into the leadership role that you have in the business and what made you decide that you wanted to do this? Because you hear the good, the bad, and the ugly with respect to family businesses. So, tell us a little bit of the background.
Andrea Hood (09:11):
Which it all is, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I once heard someone say probably about 10 years ago now, the best part about being in a family business is being in a family business. And the worst part about being in a family business is being in a family business, and I feel that’s a very accurate statement for any of your listeners out there who are also in a family business, because it’s definitely, it can be challenging at times, but also really, really amazing. So, actually, my dad started the company when I was five years old, so I grew up watching him. I grew up watching him. I grew up helping him. Back in the day we had big rolls of carpet that used to get delivered to our house and he would roll them out and I would help him measure. And then I would be doing cartwheels and stuff on the carpet. I always worked for him in middle school and high school, stuff like that during the summer months. And then I went off to college to become a teacher. I always wanted to be a teacher. So that’s actually, my bachelor’s degree is in early childhood education.
Lisa Larter (10:07):
Andrea Hood (10:08):
So yeah, so very different in some ways, but in some ways it’s not running a business.
Lisa Larter (10:14):
Some days I tell my husband, it feels like adult daycare.
Andrea Hood (10:17):
Lisa Larter (10:19):
No disrespect to my team, but some days.
Andrea Hood (10:24):
Lisa Larter (10:25):
I’m glad [crosstalk 00:10:26].
Andrea Hood (10:26):
Yeah. So, I was doing my student teaching at a school, a second-grade classroom in Cambridge, and I just remember right before I graduated college and I remember being like, “Dad, I don’t want to do this.” The public education system is not what I had always envisioned it to be. And it was definitely not something that I could see myself being a part of. And I didn’t really have the words for it at the time. I was 22 years old or whatever, and he was like, “Well, just come work for me over the summer like you always have, and we’ll figure it out.” And I was like, “Okay, we’ll figure it out.” And here we are 16 years later, and I figured it out a little bit here or there. So, yes, here we are.
Andrea Hood (11:12):
I became owner, majority… So, my dad is still an owner. We’re partners, so he’s 41% owner, I’m 51% owner four years ago, actually. So we just celebrated our fourth year of being a WBE, woman business enterprise, which is exciting, which is very exciting.
Lisa Larter (11:29):
Andrea Hood (11:30):
So, yeah, I actually had lunch with one of my business colleagues the other day and she said, “How many family members exactly do have working for you?” I was like, “Well, my father, my brother, my husband, two cousins, and uncles.” So, yeah, we’re a crew of a total… We have about 20 employees and a good portion of them are family. And if they’re not family, they’ve worked for us long enough where they basically feel like family. So, that’s how I got here where I am today.
Lisa Larter (11:58):
So, I’m going to guess that you are in a male dominated business, and my understanding based on what I know of this type of business is you have a retail business and you have a service business that are combined because you’re buying… When I say retail, I mean you’re retailing a product whether it’s commercial or… And people are paying for the service to have the product installed as well.
Andrea Hood (12:27):
Lisa Larter (12:27):
And so, talk to me a little bit about what it’s been like for you leading as a woman in a male dominated space, and talk to me a little bit about what it’s like leading in a unionized space?
Andrea Hood (12:41):
Yeah. So it’s very interesting on both accounts. I would say that when I was younger and first came into the industry before I was owner, it was very interesting watching men’s reactions when I would walk into a room and just whip out my tape measure or start showing samples or whatever it was. Also, I get on the ground and I check the current flooring situation a lot, and I have this tool and I would have men just staring at me like, “What is this girl doing?” You know what I mean? So, that was always… And half the time I was in a dress or whatever. I was like, “Whatever?” So, it is interesting. I will say the older I get and probably more now that I’ve stepped into this leadership role, I don’t get that as much. I don’t get that as much, but sometimes I still do get the, “Oh, do you…” Or they’ll ask me some sort of stupid question or in my mind it’s stupid. And I’m like, “Actually, I’m the owner. What can I do for you?” They’re just like, “Oh, little girl.” I’m like, “No, I’m the owner. What do you want?”
Lisa Larter (13:35):
That happened to me in my retail store years ago. I remember this guy, this dude walked in. So, I owned a wireless store where you buy… Like an AT&T in Canada. It was a tele dealership, and this guy walked in, he had a problem with this phone, and I was trying to help him. No, no, no. He can help me. He wanted one of the guys that worked for me to help him because he couldn’t figure out this problem. And so, what he didn’t know is my nickname was the wireless wonder woman.
Andrea Hood (14:02):
I love that.
Lisa Larter (14:04):
And so, when the dudes in the store couldn’t fix the problem, they brought it to me and I was like, “Next time, don’t be so presumptuous.”
Andrea Hood (14:13):
Right? I love that. I love that nickname that you had.
Lisa Larter (14:15):
Andrea Hood (14:16):
Lisa Larter (14:17):
So, talk to me about unionization because I think that’s a scary word for a lot of businesses.
Andrea Hood (14:23):
It is, and I have a love-hate relationship with it if I’m being honest. We have always been union. My father actually, when he started out, he started out in 1985 as a union installer. So he worked for another company and then he branched off on his own. He brought some of those guys with him, so we’ve always been union. I love the union for the reasons that it does, I get great quality labor. I do. They have a great training program. Our labor is definitely a step above some of the non-union players. I will say that. There’s just a difference that you can tell on a job site when it’s a union job site compared to when it’s non-union. And then maybe I shouldn’t publicly discuss some of my quarrels with the union, but no, I mean, I think it’s good, and I think they do have the employee’s protection at play. The union gives great benefits, great pension plan, annuity plan, all those things, which is, I think that is awesome because-
Lisa Larter (15:26):
But do you have flexibility and autonomy as a leader though? Without throwing anybody under the bus I understand that. I understand the same when I say adult daycare and I say to my team, “I’m just kidding, not really.” But do you feel like as a whole, as a leader, you are able to effectively work with the union inside of your organization? Has that impacted you in any way?
Andrea Hood (15:54):
I feel like yes. Overall, yes. A lot of my installers, I have brought on. A lot of the, we’ll call them the younger crew. They’re my brother’s age. They’re in their early thirties, and they went to high school with my brother and they didn’t want to go to college afterwards. So they came on, they saw my brother working, they came on board, and we put them through the union. So now they are making six figures with zero college debt. They all own homes. Stuff like that, it makes me so happy. It makes me so happy because I feel like, especially in our area, in Southern New Hampshire there’s a lot of folks that are really lost and they don’t have… Or they go to college and then they amount so much debt and then they don’t really end up doing their career, so it’s a weird spot. So, I’m very happy that we have so many installers that have made a good life for themselves.
Andrea Hood (16:47):
But there were certain times, especially during COVID. I mean, it was the beginning of COVID and we had everything shut down. Everything shut down, and the union’s telling us we can’t work. Yet my guys, my installers wanted to work, and I had clients that were like, “Well, no, I need some jobs done. The buildings are empty, please come in.” And I’m like, “I can’t.” So there was… Luckily, it only lasted a few weeks and then we were labelled essential workers so the union allowed us to work again. But there is some certain times, stuff like that, where I’m like, “Well, if my guys want to work, if it’s safe for them to work, the clients want us to work, why can’t I work?” You know what I mean?
Lisa Larter (17:20):
Andrea Hood (17:21):
So, there’s certain situations like that, which thankfully doesn’t happen too much, and hopefully COVID is done, so hopefully.
Lisa Larter (17:28):
Yeah, hopefully. We have decided it’s over.
Andrea Hood (17:32):
Yeah, I’ve decided. I’m like, “I’m not doing that again. I’m not shutting down again.”
Lisa Larter (17:35):
I’m done. Yeah, yeah. So, I’m curious, if there was a young woman listening right now and she was considering whether or not she should career path into her family business, whether it was run by her father or her mother or both, what advice would you give her in terms of navigating her career in a family owned environment based on your experience?
Andrea Hood (18:06):
This is a great question. I love this. So, I would say, think about your family dynamic. My family, my brother, my father, and I are all very, very close, and that has helped us create the successful business that we have created because even before I took ownership over, my brother and I were significantly growing the business and basically we doubled the business in a matter of a few years.
Lisa Larter (18:33):
Andrea Hood (18:34):
Yeah, and my dad really supported us doing that. So we have a very tight-knit relationship and I would say to someone, I would say that it can be a blessing or a curse for us. It’s been a blessing. It has. I do know that there are certain topics we’ll say that are easier if there’s some sort of mediator that helps us if we’re having like a struggle with a conversation about the business. So, find yourself some sort of… For us, it’s my CPA. She’s a great middleman for topics that sometimes we can butt heads on. So I would say find someone like that, someone, a trusted resource, whether it’s a business coach or consultant or a banker or a CPA or what have you. So, I think that really helps as well. I think that there’s a lot of give and take in a family business. There’s a lot of give and take. Sometimes you have to like, “Well, this is my family. I’m not going to have world war three over this because they’re my family, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters the most,” which can be tricky sometimes in business, as I’m sure you can understand.
Lisa Larter (19:41):
Yes. I terminated a family member once, my husband’s brother, and my husband came to the back room and I’m like, “I just fired your brother.” He said, “What?”
Andrea Hood (19:51):
Sorry, but I did. It’s tricky. It’s definitely tricky. You have to have a strong backbone. You do because there’s sometimes where it’s like, “This is tough.” Yeah, yeah.
Lisa Larter (20:05):
Yeah. Absolutely, absolutely.
Andrea Hood (20:06):
Well, it’s very rewarding too because our wins, we’ve been having some great years. Like I said, we’ve double business, everything like that. It’s awesome to be doing it with the ones that I love the most and the ones that I trust the most. You know what I mean? I trust my dad and I trust my brother. My brother’s not a partner, but he basically is even though he is not. There’s a car alarm going off.
Lisa Larter (20:30):
I can hear that. I can hear that. That it’s okay. I’m curious, you said that you and your brother, you doubled the business. Doubling the business is great. I love… I grew my business by 50% three years in a row, which was remarkable, but that type of growth also creates a whole bunch of problems. What have been some of the hardest parts of growth for you inside of the company that you’ve had to deal with?
Andrea Hood (20:58):
I would say there’s two ones that really stick out in my mind. When it was first happening, financing it all, and that was just as I was becoming owner. So, that was very scary to me thinking about credit lines and… That whole concept was frightening to me. Now, it’s a breeze now, but I would say the financing part was definitely a struggle because as you’re growing, you need to finance it.
Lisa Larter (21:23):
Yeah, absolutely. And it’s really easy to get into a scarcity mindset around not wanting… Because you’re basically hedging. You’re risking. You’re investing in the growth of your business and I’m talking about real investing. I’m not talking about this I spent all my profits because I invested it back in my business BS that you hear people say. I’m talking about serious I need capital investments in labor and I need material-
Andrea Hood (21:47):
[crosstalk 00:21:47]. And everything else. That was a challenge. Definitely made me grow up real fast and definitely made me step into a leadership role real fast. I would say the other one and it still continues to be a little bit of a, I don’t want to say struggle, but definitely an area that we have a little bit of a hard time. Oh, thank goodness that stopped. Sorry about that.
Lisa Larter (22:05):
Andrea Hood (22:07):
Is finding, even though we’re union, the Boston Metro area is booming right now. We’re in the Boston Metro area. It’s booming right now. So, to try to call the union hall to get installers is tricky and get them to exactly how we do business and how we do floors a little bit different than other folks in our area and what we specialize in. And so, finding that quality labor can be a challenge for sure, and it still is. Right now we have 14 installers, which is great. It’s the most we’ve ever had, but I know like this summer is always our busiest month. We’ll call it Memorial Day through Labor Day, our busiest season, and I could probably use another five to 10 installers, especially this summer, and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to get that. You know what I mean? So, it definitely puts a cap on how much business we can actually do. So, that’s a little bit of a… Those I would say. The financing, especially in the beginning as we were growing and now finding the labor to continue to grow as we grow can be a challenge.
Lisa Larter (23:11):
Yeah, so I would love to know how you… I’d love for you to talk a little bit about how you manage the finances. What are some of the things because when I read your bio you say that you love personal and business finance. So, walk me through shrewdness of your eye when you’re looking at your financial statements. What are the things that you’re looking for? How are you making decisions around I need to invest more here. I need to reduce costs here. Because one of the things that I have found for a lot of businesses is growth doesn’t necessarily mean growth on the bottom line.
Andrea Hood (23:54):
It’s very true.
Lisa Larter (23:55):
So, I’d love to hear some of the things that you look at or you consider when it comes to managing the finances of the business to keep the business as profitable and successful as possible as it grows.
Andrea Hood (24:13):
Well, I will say this, and I think this is, as a family business, I think a family business factors into that in the sense that when it comes to the inside business operations, the sales or project management, we are extremely lean. We’re extremely lean. So, that helps keep costs down. That’s a huge thing for us. So, it’s me, it’s my dad, it’s my brother doing all the sales, all the project management. So, it’s a lot. And then we have a controller who’s actually not a family member who does the day to day books, does all the controlling of finances. So I’ll say running a lean team is definitely a huge part in helping keeping the profits up and keeping a low overhead, especially here in Massachusetts overhead is very costly, especially with my union installers that are making six figures.
Andrea Hood (25:08):
So another thing I have to be very mindful of is when I’m running jobs, running the jobs lean as well and not putting 15 installers on one job when it could handle five, and still make me money at the end of the day if it’s just handling five. I would say that’s another thing is just keeping my eyes on the metrics I guess you could say of it all, of the inner workings, that helps. Another thing that’s also coming to my mind is a lot of our manufacturers that we do business with also give us discounts if we pay our bills either on time or early. We try to grab discounts when we can because those can really add up. I want to say last year we got almost six figures in discounts. That’s someone’s salary. That’s a lot when you really factor those small amounts. $500 here, $1,000 there, $200 there. It really does add up. It really does, which is nice.
Lisa Larter (26:05):
Yeah, totally, totally. One of the things that we do in our business is we try to do a project profitability assessment. See, your point when we quote a project as an example, let’s say we’re doing somebody’s website. We make assumptions around how much time it’s going to take and what is going to be involved in order to get the project done. Sometimes our assumptions are great and sometimes they’re completely flawed and the profitability is really squeezed. And so, what I have found is helpful is to actually spreadsheet all of those profitability assessments so that I can start to see the averages on projects to help me better forecast. For example, a homepage takes X amount of hours for design, copy, and development not Y. We thought it was Y, but really it’s X. And then you can start to make better assumptions as you move forward.
Lisa Larter (27:02):
I’m like you, if you don’t look at the numbers, you don’t really know what’s going on. When we had our Trust call and Andrea, the other Andrea was talking about how she goes through her GL with a highlighter and she highlights the expenses that are good, the expenses to be investigated, and the expenses that need to go away. I love that idea. Color coding, the green, yellow, red, I thought it was a really, really brilliant way to look at the line item details in your business. Because I think that there are things to your point when you have the cash flow to pay on time or pay in advance, you can save money. But the other thing I think we all need to do a better job of keeping our eye on is our subscription-based services. They’re crazy.
Andrea Hood (27:51):
They add up.
Lisa Larter (27:52):
They totally add up.
Andrea Hood (27:54):
Discounts that I was saying, we grab the discounts. We also try to keep those other things in line too because it does add up. It does add up. And right now what’s really adding up too is our gas because we have a fleet of 12 vehicles. Three of them are trucks, which, I mean, it costs me a couple hundred dollars to fill up a truck. Fill them up every few days. So, it’s really keeping an eye on that and going to the gas stations that have a little bit more, five cents here or there really adds up when you’re filling up a few times a week on 12 vehicles.
Lisa Larter (28:24):
It’s true. It’s really, really true. How are you finding inflation and supply chain affecting your business?
Andrea Hood (28:33):
This is a doozy. It’s a doozy. It’s really challenging right now I’m not going to lie. It has been since probably the beginning. We weren’t really affected in 2020, I will say that. 2021, however, it started. I mean, some of my manufacturers I work with… I probably work with a dozen, but I would say I work with three to five regularly. I have good close relationships with those folks. And I mean, they were giving me three to four price increases last year. I’ve already had price increases this year. I’m having another one, and it’s a lot. Last summer, we couldn’t get adhesive anywhere because of the freeze that happened in Texas in February. That’s where a lot of the adhesives are made. So, we had no adhesive.
Lisa Larter (29:18):
Andrea Hood (29:18):
We were being super stingy with our adhesive last summer, which wasn’t fun. Now, this year, it seems like that problem is solved. Now we’re having yarn manufacturing issues for the carpet yarns. So, now I’m having lead times that used to be two to four weeks are 12 weeks. So, I’m already trying to get on my summer clients and being like, “We have to order product now. I have to get your materials ordered now. You can’t wait until June when you want your project done in August. We don’t have that time.” So, it’s been challenging for sure. I will say that all of the carpet that we work with, which is a lot of carpet, is all made… Most of, I think all the carpet pretty much in the United States is made in the United States, which is nice. So, I don’t have that overseas container ship issues. I did have it with luxury vinyl tile, LVT, those wood-looking planks that you’re starting to see everywhere. A lot of that comes from Asia or Europe, so there was issues getting that last summer and in the fall. And we’ll see what happens this year with that. But yeah, so it’s definitely been interesting. There’s definitely a lot of struggles on things you wouldn’t think of, yarn, adhesive.
Lisa Larter (30:26):
Yeah. I find it interesting. You’re talking about some of your suppliers doing multiple price increases in a year, and I had a conversation with somebody just via Messenger last night who has started their own home based business. They’re like, “I’m really small potatoes compared to some of the people that you work with, but what would you tell me I should do in order to grow my business?” And I said, “Well, tell me what you want the outcome to be.” And then when I looked at what they wanted the outcome to be, and I looked at their service model I said, “Your prices are too low. You need to increase your prices. You need to increase them to this.” And the response was like, “Oh, but I’m already high compared to other people.” I’m like, “You’re not high enough.” So, how do you communicate a price increase to your clients? And are you able to… I find so many women getting emotionally invested in sharing that a price has gone up. What I said to this person last night is does Starbucks ask you permission when they raise their prices or do they just raise their prices?
Andrea Hood (31:36):
Or the gas companies that are now raising our prices at the pump? I would say, I think I have two things to say on that. One, I will say that people right now are very aware of all the price increases happening and the inflation that’s happening and the gas and the material delays. So, I will say that clients have been very like, “Okay.” Nobody’s really been like… I’m like, “Hey, listen, I’m really sorry, but this product has now gone up 15% from what I quoted you last September.” And they’re like, “Okay.” I will say that nobody has really barked back at that, and I’m being, trying to be very transparent and also upfront about that. I try never to hit… It’s our company motto, which I think is different from a lot of contractors.
Andrea Hood (32:20):
We don’t want to hit people with change orders. I like to upfront the cost like here you go. So as you were saying before sometimes the profit margin might be a little bit less at the end of the day, but I feel better about that, and I get a lot of repeat business that way because they know what to expect with me. They know what to expect. So just trying to project that accurately. I will say that when I first started out in the business 15 years ago, 16 years ago, we weren’t doing the volume that we’re doing now. So I would get much more attached to like, “Oh, I didn’t get that job because I was priced too high,” or whatever it was. And I would be more emotional about it. Now our volume is so high that it’s like, “Okay, next, next. I’ll just quote the next job. I’ll get the next one. I’ll get the next one. I don’t have the time or the energy, or I don’t allow myself to put the energy into, “Oh, man, I lost that one.” I’m just like, “Okay, moving on next, moving on next.” Removing that emotional attachment to it, which does get easier with time, and when you’re doing more volume.
Lisa Larter (33:23):
Yeah, yeah. I think that’s a really important point. I have what I call a PGA fee at times and PGA stands for please go away meaning that I price things so high because we’re so busy that I’m not attached to getting the business. So, I price it so high that if I do get the business, I’m okay with it because… And then that fee becomes my new normal because, oh, well, I guess that fee’s not too high for the market because they didn’t go away. It’s not a please go away as in, I don’t want to work with them. It’s more of please go. I’m not attached to getting the business right now. So, I agree with you. Attachment is a really big part of what trips a lot of women up in business. I think we all have to do a better job of saying next and not being so attached to some of those things.
Lisa Larter (34:19):
I just went through this whole thing with a client that has been with me for years where we had to increase our pricing. And I had been this believer that you should grandfather fees, and I realized that was the wrong way of thinking in a service based business because my employees get raises and the cost of doing business has gone up and I need to pass that along to the buyer in order for the business to remain profitable. And so, there was all this story in my head around how the client was going to respond and they were like, “Okay, no problem.”
Andrea Hood (34:54):
Isn’t it funny?
Lisa Larter (34:56):
So, I think sometimes the stories we tell ourselves are so powerful compared to how people respond. So, I’d love to know what one of your greatest lessons has been in your business. So, I’d love for you to share a mistake you made and what you learned from that mistake and how it’s shaped you as a leader in your company. Because I think that we often… We look out the window at these other people running these successful businesses and it’s the Instagram feed. We think they’re perfect. We think they never make mistakes. They never fall down, and it’s not really, life is not Pinterest perfect and neither is business. So, can you share some way a story of something that went wrong, what you learned from it?
Andrea Hood (35:51):
I will say it’s maybe not anything super specific, but an overall not trusting myself.
Lisa Larter (35:59):
That’s a good one.
Andrea Hood (36:00):
Not listening. I’m a very intuitive person. I told you earlier, I’m kind of a hippie. I’m very intuitive. I like to listen to my gut. I like to go out in nature and just feel how I’m feeling. And there has been times when I haven’t listened to my gut, even though my gut’s been screaming at me like, “No, do this instead.” You know what I mean? And just being like, “Why are you doing this? Don’t do that. Don’t do that, do this instead.” So, I will say that listening to my gut has been… Not listening was the good mistake, and now listening has helped. It helps. I always trust my gut now, always 100% of the time. It never steers you wrong. I can share an example if you’d like of something that trusting my gut helped me with. I feel like I have a lot of COVID stories, but a lot happened. We grew a lot as business owners I feel like during COVID.
Lisa Larter (36:55):
You had to or your business wouldn’t survive.
Andrea Hood (36:58):
Exactly, and here’s a great example of that. So, in April, 2020, they announced the PPP and we were waiting for our bank to… We had a big national bank. We were waiting for our bank to let us know when we could apply for the PPP. And in my head I was like, “They’re not going to… They don’t care about us smaller businesses.” I mean, this is a national chain. They’re doing business with a billion dollar a year companies, whatever. They don’t care about my mom and pop flooring company. They don’t care about us. They care about those guys. So, I said my gut was telling me to start looking at local banks. My gut was telling me I had wanted to switch to a local bank for a while. So I did and it took some convincing of others, I’ll say that to trust my gut and me basically being like, “You need to listen to me on this. This is right. I know I’m right.”
Andrea Hood (37:53):
I investigated a local bank and I reached out to them. They said they were… I said, “Are you accepting PPP applications for non clients?” They said yes. We sent them our application that day. I heard back from them within five minutes. Within three or four days, I had the money in my account.
Lisa Larter (38:12):
Andrea Hood (38:12):
And it was a lot of money because we are a union company and my installers make a lot of money, and it was for paying our installers for eight weeks. It was a lot of money and we got that and that carried us. I swear that carried us. If we hadn’t gotten that, I think we would’ve been in a lot more tricky situation for the six to 12 months that followed that. So, I’m very happy that I listened to my gut on that, and I followed that through and within less than a week, it paid off, and it helped our business, and it kept my installers, kept giving my installers paycheck, kept their… Because with the union, you get your benefits based on your hours worked. So, it kept all their health benefits, kept their pension benefits, everything like that, which is very important to me. And then we ended up doing the full switch over to this bank, and I’m very happy with the service they’re giving us. Extremely happy. So, I feel like that’s a good example of listening to your gut and just going… And you know what happened is our big national bank never reached out to us, nothing. They ended up… It’s been so messy over there. So I’m just really glad that we made the switch and I listened to what I knew was right.
Lisa Larter (39:20):
Yeah. A lot of times we don’t listen to our gut and I think it is a mistake. I think we have to trust our instincts, and I think we have to pay attention to… We almost need to document an evidence log of all the times we trusted our gut and what the outcome was to build the courage and confidence to keep trusting our gut because I think sometimes we forget when we take those risks or we forget that our gut told us to zig and we didn’t zig, we zagged and then things didn’t turn out. So I think it’s an important lesson for us to be mindful of. All right. I have one more question for you before we wrap up, and that is, this is my favorite question. What would you say your entrepreneurial superpower is?
Andrea Hood (40:11):
Honestly, I think it’s that, and I hate to beat that into the ground, but listening to my gut. I really do think that’s… I am someone who’s very intuitive down to the fact that I know when a client reaches out or something, I know when a job’s going to be successful. I have a feeling when it’s not going to be. I know when we need to sign up to work with this person. Just, I have an inner knowing, I do, and I do think that is my superpower. Not just in business, but in life in general, too. Again, I hate to pound that into the ground, but really, I think that is my superpower, my intuition.
Lisa Larter (40:49):
That is okay, but let’s talk about it. So, I’m reading a book right now. Oh, gosh, how can I forget? I think it’s called Stolen Focus and it talks about how our worlds have changed so much. We are so fricking addicted to screens and notifications and we’re not… It talks in the book about how most people can’t even read a book anymore because they can’t focus long enough to read a book. And so, can you break it down for me? What is it that you specifically do to be attuned to your intuition versus fall into the trap of being distracted by everything else?
Andrea Hood (41:35):
Oh, I like that. I like that question. I coined a term from Tom Brady. I’m not a sports person at all, but I love when Tom Brady said this a few years ago is that he is laser focused. So, that’s how I drown out the noise and I keep myself laser focused so I can listen to myself. By that. I mean, I do, I have a huge morning routine that takes me hours, but it helps set me up for the day. It helps get me focused. I meditate or do yoga. I go for a walk outside with the dogs. I go in my sauna then I get ready. I eat a healthy breakfast. All these things helps set me up for my day because if I just am rushing out the door, if I don’t work out or whatever, I’m just all frazzled. And then if I’m frazzled, I can’t listen to my intuition. I can’t listen to it.
Andrea Hood (42:24):
Another thing that I do is I don’t really utilize social media at all for my business because it’s just not in tune with my business. With a business like yours, it makes more sense. You know what I mean? Business like mine, it doesn’t. I can’t really find the right fit. So, I’m like, “You know what? I can’t find the right fit.” I struggle with it for a bit. I’m like, “I’m just not going to do it. Just going to take it off the table.” Again, focusing to not waste my time doing something that isn’t at the end of the day bringing us more business to allow me to listen to the things that can bring more business and be more present with my clients and things like that.
Andrea Hood (42:59):
So, I feel like I do a very good job of drowning out the noise and just putting on tunnel vision, laser focus, stick to what I know works best for me in my body so that I can listen to that intuition come through because when we’re so busy, we don’t hear the intuition. Or we’ll be like drown out the… Keep it, do this. Oh, I’m going to do that because this person’s doing it. I got to do that. I just drown it all out. Drown it all out. Laser focus. It’s taken years and it’s taken practice. It’s not like it just happens overnight, but I do think that helps.
Lisa Larter (43:33):
Do you have a practice like journaling and asking yourself questions or is it just natural in the moment you’re just paying attention?
Andrea Hood (43:42):
I would say it’s more natural in the moment paying attention. I really don’t journal. It’s not something that I found in my self care practice to be what I enjoy doing. I give myself a lot of downtime. When I’m not working, I’m doing self care, a lot of self care. I do. I just love to do… I could spend a whole day just doing yoga and going for walks and cooking in the kitchen, which is also very Zen for me and taking a nap an espsom salt bath. I’m very much a hippie like that, but I know that it helps me stay laser focused. I need that downtime. I’m a Taurus and I need to be very grounded. If I’m not grounded I’m all over the place.
Lisa Larter (44:23):
Yeah. It’s interesting. It’s great. I’m very intuitive as well. My grandmother used to say that I was part witch like her and there’s lots of times where I have seeked out inner guidance to help me think through problems, and I’ve asked for signs to show me that I am on the right track and it’s all worked really, really well for me. The challenge is I’m not as laser focused as you. And so, sometimes I forget to do it. So, it’s really great.
Andrea Hood (44:56):
Well, I think it’s common to forget. You know what I mean? It’s kind of bring yourself back to it though, because you have it in you.
Lisa Larter (45:02):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
Andrea Hood (45:04):
I do that too. I ask for signs a lot.
Lisa Larter (45:07):
Yeah. Cool. Well, this has been fantastic. Thank you so much.
Andrea Hood (45:13):
Thank you for having me.
Lisa Larter (45:13):
We’re going to… I know that there’s a small percentage of listeners on the show who may be in the market for your services. So, we will definitely link to all the right places in the show notes for you, but I love having conversations with women who are not running, I’m going to call them traditional online businesses that you’re doing, you’re running a real business with… And it’s not to say that online businesses are not real, but it’s different. I know. I’ve run a retail store. I understand when you’re dealing with cost of goods and multiple employees and services and quotes and all that, it’s different. And so, I love that you were able to share such a unique perspective with us today, and I love that you were able to talk about the inner workings of a family-based business because I think that’s super, super valuable for people.
Andrea Hood (46:07):
Yeah, excellent. Well, thank you for having me. I’ve enjoyed our conversation as well. So, this has been great. I hope your listeners found it useful as well.
Lisa Larter (46:16):
Awesome. Thank you so much, Andrea, and thank you for listening to She Talks Business. I would love to hear from you. You can follow me on Instagram @LisaLarter. Send me a direct message and tell me, what is your entrepreneurial superpower? I would love to know that because I think we all have one, but I don’t know that we all know what it is. We will see you again next time.
Lisa Larter (46:41):
Thank you for joining me for this episode of She Talks Business. If you enjoyed the show, you know the drill, leave us a review, tell someone about it and join the conversation on social media. Thanks for listening and until next time remember, done is always better than perfect.