Phil Russo, Owner of the famous, Heavy Duty Homes is the special guest of Episode 215. Phil started with amazing rap and shared his amazing journey with Manny and Carlito.
This episode is proof that for contractors, the sky is the limit!
Phil Russo has broken many stereotypes and myths of this industry. Starting with a basement project, Phil realized construction has a scope of so much growth. He was fed up with working on little renovations, tile jobs, a floor staircase, decks, he wanted to go full scope so he started advertising Heavy Duty Homes as full scope work and never looked back!
Social Media is the Key!
Phil explained how he got the first project a three-story (as a full scope project). They advertised the hell out of this project on their social media and were successful in bagging many projects from those posts. Their social media is managed by Heavy Duty Media, a subsidiary of Heavy Duty Homes, run by his brother with years of experience in advertising. Feed the social machine and it will pay back tenfold fold, but remember, always stay true to your core messaging, don’t try to be a character of yourself, be yourself, no one can ever match who you are.
Optimizing the Pandemic!
After bagging many projects, pandemic turned the game upside down, and they lost a huge amount of deposit money and lots of clients placed projects on hold with so much uncertainty in the world. Phil then realized that he cannot sit down in the growth period of his business, so he went out and started a project when people realized they are available, they started assigning them projects, they pushed to get things going, people weren’t working, they needed to stay busy and in 2020 they completed 10 projects and in 2021 they sold 57 homes! Amazing drive and passion from Phil and his team.
In House Trades
Phil realized that with this much work and a great team, he needs to be a good manager. He built a studio upstairs, hired a full-time designer, and decided to change the direction of how they do things, which was subbing everything, to doing all of the essential trades in-house. The main reason to do so was scheduling. Take the example of tile and hardwood. They’re working on several jobs and may disturb the whole schedule of your project. There are too many schedules and too many clients that are asking when they can come back into their houses. When scheduling became an issue, they decided to open up a hardware division, a tile division, a painting quality control division, a drywall division, vehicles, and trucks outfitted for each division, these divisions gave Heavy Duty Homes the freedom to control the schedule and not have to rely on what ifs and maybe I’ll show up.
Now with the proper project manager scheduling everything and everybody in-house, they’re pretty much just puppeteering the whole production.
Eye for Talent
Phil stated that he has hired guys who have worked with him since 2016 and knows how Phil wants things done. He has an eye for talent and only works with the best people. If the person he relies on is not available, he takes the client on board and waits for them to come back. He hires leaders and gives them the liberty to hire their team, to get high-quality work. Phil says that professionals always respect the next trade, catchy phrase…I wonder who said it first?
Phil explained that their business expands on the basis of referrals and positive relationships. He believes in making the clients their friends, and even after the projects are done, he stays in touch with them because it brings them future business, those gentle lines of communication reinforce the brand Phil has built, it adds value to the work completed, it plants seeds for future projects.
Phil says that the area they want to improve is their material coordination. As soon someone signs a contract they arrange a meeting with the designer, get things done, and the material needed is decided. The in-house material coordinator helps to match the workflow with supply.
Clients are required to submit 30% advance to arrange the materials, so the work stays on schedule. Usually, the waiting time is 2 months for the work to be started! In the new age of construction leads times are now 4-6 months and Phil doesn’t want his clients waiting to get back into the newly renovated home.
Importance of Excellent Customer Service
Customer Service is missing in Construction Industry. Heavy Duty Homes always go back to clients whenever they call them. High-quality customer service is the reason you get more and valued projects. Phil has taken advantage of his premium customer service.
When Phil was asked about his future goals, he said that he wants to achieve perfection not more business. He believes that the contractor should stay hungry for work and quality, find the niche they are comfortable in and make sure your goals stay focused. If you can maintain quality in 50 projects per year, but you are getting 200 projects, you should do 50 projects and should never compromise your quality over money.
- Phil has assigned a former supervisor and painter as the head of quality control. When everything is completed, he spends a week examining everything, even if the client is satisfied, he views things according to his experience for quality control.
- Govt. should support small businesses
- Small Businesses are not surviving due to the high wages and high production costs. Facilities are moving to cheap countries. Govt should support small businesses as they are the backbone of the economy.
- Everybody including Phil and Manny agreed to this, that the workplace should belong to contractors completely, they should trust them so contractors can perform their best. Contractors maintain the safety and cleanliness of the place at their expense. Clients should understand why insurance is important for job sites.
- They use Co-construct software to manage their business.
- Changes are adjusted in the contract (for price and time changes) and a coordinator works as the medium to clients and tradesmen to make this process smooth.
- Phil believes in women’s representation in his workplace. He also stated how women feel comfortable with the female designers and staff and listen to their suggestions.
- Don’t waste $400 to save $100, instead spend $500!
The 12 Questions of Construction!
The ending of the episode was amazing where Manny asked some fun construction questions from Phil and Games. Here are a few of them, don’t forget to listen to the podcast and enjoy this QA session.
- What is your favorite construction word?
Phil: Heavy (duty)
Games: Complete. Because he is always ahead of the schedule. So he loves to tell someone the task is completed and he is ready to move on to the next one!
- What is your least favorite word?
Games: Speaking like a project manager he replied Delay
- What turns you on in construction?
Games: The before and afters. He loves to renovate 70s 80s homes, and how they turn from brown/yellow themes to all whites.
Phil: He loves it when clients just hand him the ropes.
- What turns you off in construction
Games: The stigmatism that they face. How clients refuse to pay in advance for materials.
Phil: Incompetence… Incompetent workers, incompetent trades, incompetent suppliers, just incompetence across the board.
- What is your favorite vehicle?
Games: 1965 Lincoln Continental 1965. Extremely long flat.
Phil: Harley Davidson O six streetlight.
- Your least favorite vehicle.
Phil: Anything Toyota?
- What construction sound or noise do you guys’ love?
Games: Miter saws
Phil: Brad Nailers
- What construction sound or noise do you guys hate?
Games: He enjoys them all.
Phill: The ringing phone.
- What profession other than young would you guys like to attempt?
Phil: Pro boxer.
- What profession would you guys not like to do? Ever?
- The last question was interesting as hell. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the gate?
Games: It’s about time.
Phill: We have unlimited steak.