A conversation with David Logan of Duttons & Co.
In this week’s podcast, Paul and Dave talk with Co-owner David Logan of Duttons Property Management & Boutique Real Estate Sales, a Victoria-based firm located in the heart of Fairfield. The three engage in conversation about workplace culture, leading with values and the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) — a system of concepts and tools that leaders can apply to help manage and strengthen their businesses.
David passionately shares his optimism of the local real estate market and the economic resilience of the city itself to continue to thrive despite the unprecedented economic impact on some sectors of the local economy caused by the pandemic.
Click here to read the full transcript
Paul: Welcome again to Island Thrive. My name is Paul Holmes, your co-host, and with me today as usual, Dave Monahan, how are you, Dave?
Dave: Very good. Thanks, Paul. How are you?
Paul: Doing great and Dave Monahan, of course, is the President of Smart Dolphins IT Solutions, and we’re pretty excited today to have with us a special guest, David Logan, who is the managing broker and co-owner of Dutton and company real estate. David, how are you today?
David: I’m great. Great, thanks for having me on.
Paul: Yeah, thanks for being here. We got a Dave and we go to David, so we could keep it straight. So I think most people who are been around Victoria for a while are familiar with you. They’ve heard the name Duttons. It’s got a long history here in Victoria, but before we dive into that, David, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you get involved with this business?
David: I was in Shanghai for a number of years, originally born in Vancouver, and my wife grew up in Fairfield. So we met over Vancouver and took a long route to Victoria, went to Shanghai for three years and then landed here. We kept visiting actually, Fairfield, Cook Street village, and we landed here and decided to stay. We’re going to start our family here and her parents are here, and it was great. It was like late 2006, early 2007, and I didn’t know anybody here, and we started and we found ourselves… I found myself… Yeah, I was moving to shifting into real estate, and I found myself the applying and meeting… Lois Dutton at Dutton’s real estate in Fairfield in the summer of 2007, which was the start of everything and meeting my business partner, Ole Schmidt.
Paul: And of course, Duttons had been around for quite a long time before that, and Lois was one of the, I guess, one of the founders of the company, so how long exactly has Duttons been around?
David: They incorporated April, I believe is April 1st, 1995. They moved into the offices here at Moss and Fairfield, but they’d been who she operated with her husband Barry Dutton, and they operated as a team together and believe earlier than that at Remax and their first employee who’s still with us today, Susanne. Susanne Newton and so… Yeah, they came in. So it’s 1995, April 1. We just finished our 26th year anniversary the other day, and… So yeah, they do have a long history together.
Paul: And it’s always been there in Fairfield as well. Which is but of course, your business isn’t just exclusively in Fairfield, you have business around the region.
David: Absolutely, yeah. She lived in Fairfield and my business partner, we both live in Fairfield, and our families have long histories in Fairfield. The company, I mean, we’re a local touch, we have a global reach though, we have a lot of clients from all around the world because we’re a large property management company, so we have almost 500 individual units that we manage for clients all around the world, and they’re heavily in the urban core, mostly. A lot of condos downtown, and we do have some houses but were mostly condos though. And we sell all over the regions, but when we are predominantly in the urban core, but we do go out to the Westshore and we’re growing as well, so our footprint is growing, but we’ve always been centrally located.
Paul: And yeah, and of course, you touched on it there, it’s property management as well as boutique real estate sales as well. So a lot of people might not realize that because they might have only dealt with Duttons in one or the other, but basically you’re a full solution for people when it comes to their residential needs, so.
David: Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, whether there’s times when you need to rent this time, or if you need to purchase or you need to sell, and then we can handle all that, we have synergy across both the departments of the company.
Paul: I think as a business owner, David, you’re… especially in that industry, you have a lot of insight that maybe a lot of people don’t see when it comes to the local economy, and so I’m wondering if maybe just give us your general thoughts on where the local economy is at. Obviously, we’ve come through this difficult period of covid, and maybe you have some insights as well as to where things are going?
David: Obviously, yes, this year is upheaval. It’s spread across, not evenly across different industries. So going into this and covid in March 2020, nobody knew I mean we had experienced in 2008 a financial crisis, everybody’s down that’s a little easier to understand. But I don’t think anyone saw, could foresee that the split in the economy was going to happen like it did. April, May, June, you get through in some businesses were just fine and thriving, and obviously some industries in tourism and restaurants and smaller businesses and retail just…absolutely, were getting crushed and that’s still happening. So supported mainly people have to remember this a government town, there’s a lot of government jobs obviously in the Navy, there’s some real supports here in education, and we found that across our portfolio with our residents and our clients, the tenants of our properties in those positions, their incomes kept earning, they could work from all these professional type jobs. So nobody really expected that, and where it’s headed, it is going to come back for the tourism, restaurant industries and smaller businesses, but it’s hard to watch and we all have family members or friends that are involved in those industries, and it’s a tough thing to watch and try and carry people through that.
Dave: So the macro crystal ball is always a little tricky, but I think you and I maybe cut from a similar cloth, in that we’re sort of thinking as business people first and not necessarily technicians in our industry, and I can remember when it was, but a while ago, since we connected over that business management leadership type of thing, and EOS being a common thread that we share…Maybe you could speak a little bit to that. How did that help you manage through this year and you see where to go to next?
David: I mean EOS, you know, you were the first person to mention that to us more than a couple of years ago, and we were looking for..we knew we needed something, needed support, we needed to understand where we were headed, we needed more management knowledge for ourselves, and when we did get involved in the EOS, which was early 2019, it just it all came together as like a lightbulb went off, it starts from those values and it starts from all the things you know are right, but you can’t verbalize. It is still hard for us as a company, sometimes the package and put it all together, but we’re getting there.
But how that supported us through covid, you know, I believe we would have come out the other side no matter what, just through determination and positive attitude, but EOS, it absolutely showed us what was important and starting with the values and the people and taking care of your people and your team, and it guided us through. It’s not a small thing. It’s everything to us actually, and again, we would have been okay, I believe, without it, but I’m not… I’m not so sure. It wouldn’t have been easy. And it wasn’t easy. Anyway.
Dave: Yeah, just for listeners too, we’re throwing out acronyms, EOS entrepreneurial operating system, which is a framework for running I’m trying to remember the name. The book is Traction by Gino Wickman, that’s the core book for that, but yeah, it’s just sort of a structure for running a business.
Paul: The entrepreneurial operating system.
Paul: It has nothing to do with computers nothing to do with technology. Yeah, brilliant program. And for any of our listeners who haven’t looked into it, it’s definitely worth a look.
I know for Smart Dolphins here, we did quite an in-depth implementation, which was awesome, it really changed a lot, really impacted I think our culture as well, we got really well organized and a lot of practices that we thought were pretty good, suddenly got a lot better, and so it’s not necessarily a prescription per se, but it’s a tool… A tool set, right? And it is you, it gives you just a whole bunch of bundled tools that really help you to drive success in your business. So I know the three of us are all pretty big advocates for that. And I know, David, you’ve been done even probably a deeper rabbit hole than we were at Smart Dolphins.
What would you say is the biggest impact that EOS had when you implemented it? I know for us it was definitely better meetings, but maybe it was something else for you?
David: Sure, yeah, it was better meetings in the platform, how to structure your communication meetings. But number one that came out was again, on your values, really looking at that, staring at those values and making sure that all the people on your team that are here are right are right with that, they have those values in line, and we did make some changes. And I think I remember back to their first lunch where Dave mentioned it to me and I had no idea what it was. And he said, “listen, be aware the one thing that’s going to be really hard is you’re going to look at your whole team and you’re going to look at each other in your business partner, you’re going to build, you know yourself, and that part is going to be harder than you think.” And I took that seriously, and then it was probably six or eight months before we actually got involved in our coaching, and I could see right away is like, “okay, I get it.” And during 2020, nobody knew what was going on. It was April, May, you couldn’t really be certain how the year was going to end up. But we made a few key changes with people based on our values, and it was right for them and it was right for us, and that was strictly out of EOS. The culture and how people are supporting each other in forced us to really get serious and examine it, so I think that is the biggest absolute tool, that came out of it. It was just really about getting down and getting serious about those values and people and the culture and now we’re thriving I think because of the people and the way they’re working together. It’s little to do with us. It’s to do with them.
Dave: Yeah, I’m curious with two owners, with co-owners that leadership, division of duties, and so I really appreciated EOS ability to have the visionary integrator role. I’m wondering if that came into play at all with Ole or even with Brian? Just clarifying the roles and structure of the team. Did you find that?
David: No, absolutely, it did. It forces you to look at your innate abilities, what you should be doing. You’re probably trying to do it, but you maybe don’t understand and how to put in words. We brought Brian into it, Director of Operations and he’s fit into the integrator role, and I was obviously an entrepreneur visionary type role, and I couldn’t quite…It wasn’t established that I was doing that, but that’s what I was doing and I would muck up meetings, I would be in things that I probably shouldn’t be because I wasn’t looking at from a technical standpoint. But Brian is an integrator moving towards the CEO of the company, Ole is a sales expert and he is on strategic initiatives on the big stuff with me and be able to talk about it and shaped it out, but he’s looking after the agents, pushing the sales business, he’s an expert in that and the coaching and the coaching the agents building that up. And then I moved over more the first thing I had to take care of was property management and get the systems in place.
But more and more, it’s like yourself, you move into the role, you’re naturally built for it. And now I believe in the three of us anyway, or pushing the business in a way and it’s helped our senior leadership fall into what they shouldn’t be doing, you shouldn’t be running a meeting, if you’re not the type of person that enjoys it or can run a meeting…Don’t have that ability, then that’s okay. You stick to what you’re good at. And so that’s why the company is running better, because we’re more honest about that. But as you know, EOS causes you to have those conversations that aren’t easy, but having a long-term business relationship with people is not easy with leadership, but it’s fun and demanding and challenging and it’s all to find a better way to serve your clients, serve your community and your staff. Number one that are in the building and take care of them.
Dave: That’s great. So I’m looking at, again, who knows what’s happening this year, but let’s think optimistically, I think we’re coming through a pandemic and getting into some different sense of normalcy, what do you see for you guys a year from now, or what’s the long-term vision? Where are you going?
David: We see further growth in the industry on both sides of the company, we have record growth as it is right now, and it’s not…The sales side obviously is extremely busy, the sales market has really taken off. But our management, we’re growing a management side growing every year, we keep doing that and we’re finding ways to better serve our clients. We don’t see that changing and we’re going to stay in the two lines of business that we’re in, we’re not going to expand our lines, we slimmed it down, if anything, to just residential. No strata and no building management necessarily, there’s other things we could get into that we used to have, but really we’re focusing on the synergy between the two departments. In both of those areas, I’m from Vancouver originally, and we all know a lot of people that are not born here, and I think it’s such a great city, and it’s changed a lot in the time I’ve been here since 2007. And I think we’re just really getting started on it. You have a burgeoning tech industry that’s great, just pushing…A lot of people don’t know the size of that and what they contribute to the economy, it’s not just tourism anymore, and it’s not just government, but I think 25 years ago, we didn’t have some of the companies and businesses and the entrepreneurs that are here now, and I don’t see that stopping. And so mixed in with the young families coming out of larger regions and Vancouver being number one, that’s going to continue and we’re always going to be attractive for retirees across the country. We don’t see anything slowing down and we see it speeding up or probably more investment into the country, into the city. We only see good. Real estate is really hyper-localized, so these mini neighborhoods, these made local markets that we’re in, Fairfield, South Oak Bay, James Bay, I mean, they’re always going to be active, they’re always busy. In our downtown core, it’s taken some hard knocks, obviously this year and a lot of people do speak negatively about downtown and my wife owns a business downtown now, and we love downtown, and it’s going to come back. A couple of years ago, it was felt like it was really thriving…It turned the corner again, there’s more investment down there all the time, and I think people are going to flood in and open up my new businesses, and it’s not all going to be be negative through this. There’s very bright and dedicated people that are here and they’re going to revive downtown in a way that I think is going to be stronger.
Paul: This ties in nicely with our last episode where we interviewed Jeff Bray from the Downtown Victoria Business Association, and I got a lot of insights, learned actually quite a bit. Just chatting with him. So if you’re listening, listen to our previous episode, this will help because I’m actually pretty optimistic about downtown after that, it’s great to hear David having such close proximity with the downtown business owner. That there’s some optimism there. You’re right, it’s been a rough year, but it’s good to hear that there’s some optimism.
Dave, do you have more you want to ask about EOS? I just jumped in.
Dave: That’s okay. I want to actually maybe get a bit more on the synergies between the two sides of the business, ’cause it sounds like a bit of a differentiator for you, and so for people that are not in the industry, I don’t know how that might look or work…Could you sort of speak to some of the specifics here? Some of the details.
David: Yes, there’s more synergy than ever. Lois and Barry started that years ago. I think they really were a sales business first, and I think they started the management division 1995, they actually were… Before that sales business with Remax, they started the management 995, I think it was simply a means, they were servicing their clients, they had a need for their clients that were buying properties and they were wanting to rent them out before maybe they’re going to retire here in 10 years. Or they had a child going to school or something they were going to use a condo or just strict investment holding property, which is important. The secondary property market doesn’t get written about as much when they’re talking about rental statistics. The condo market and people holding homes and residential property here, they’re renting them out, and that’s filling a real need for all types of people and families, so we get tight. There’s a time when you need to rent you move to the city, you might be here only for a year or two, but there’s so much flow now between work and people in and out of town that are relocating or working short term contracts that wasn’t happening 20-25 years ago. My father anyway, they were stick in one location, so there’s so much flow, they’ll rent the property, they’ll buy a house, they’ll maybe move to another city for a little while, rent the house, they don’t want to sell their investment all the time, and we can manage all of that, whatever step in life they’re in, we can manage that. There’s people that want to build a house for two years, they’re going to need to rent a house in a nice area they are in your school, so we fill that need, and it goes in a circle through.
We’ve had tenants that have bought properties and left them with us to manage, we’ve had people who’ve rented properties that are clients that had property we were managing that. They sell, then they buy. So there’s a flow to it.
Paul: Yeah, it’s interesting when you think about the modern urban professional, and it’s very easy for them to move from city to city if they’re not tied down, and so because it’s almost kind of this weird stigma of our generation, which is kind of like, “well, eventually you want to own your own house and settle down.”
And I don’t think that’s necessarily…And as a result, people say, “well, renters are second class or whatever…” I don’t think that’s true at all. I think it really has changed a lot over the last several decades. I think people just… They either they either have a need to buy a house or they have a need to rent, and they look at their personal financial situation and make the best decision, and just because you’re renting doesn’t mean you have to compromise, you can get it into…
David: No, no not at all. That mobility is important, the goal can’t be government knows and the goal isn’t 100% ownership, you wouldn’t have the freedom of movement of labour. It is important that people can pick up and relocate if they want, there’s a time and a time and a need to rent, and that’s fine, we’ve all been the renters, and it is great to be able to do that as a company, and we’re handling people through transitions and other lives. And the last year has shown people could happen rapidly. There’s so many situations or work-related or family situations or families splitting up or getting together. These all create housing needs and we can fill that. We can provide that safe community at whatever stage people are at, and it’s important, it’s important to be the professional providers that are providing safe properties and making sure that they’re cared for and the tenants, we call them residents, their residents are treated fairly, and we’re able to service that need and one day they’re going to go on and buy their own property or leave it to us to manage…It goes in a full circle.
Paul: Yeah, yeah, neat. I want to dig a little bit more into the culture at Duttons, you alluded to it at the beginning, talking about how the positive attitude, you’ve really felt that was going to get you through this difficult time, and so what is the culture there and how do you help to foster a good culture in your organization?
David: It starts with a positive attitude, absolutely. In providing support to each other, and this year, we’re not immune to just because we’re corners of the company, we have families, everybody’s going through, who knows what, your extended family, and it’s not just all about business, and you realize that…It’s a bit of a cliche. And I know Lois used to say it all the time – It is a family. It’s a work family. None of us are have famous friends, it’s not like that where you all have to be together on the weekends all the time, and especially with covid… That’s not what it is, it’s the fact that you put a group of very people from backgrounds and interests and age together with common goals, and again, it surrounds those values, those same values, and it seems you put the right people to go with the same values together, in the rib, and they can do wondrous things. And offering that flexibility to them now and in this year, that we can all have a… ’cause there’s times when I need to support to or my partner, it’s not just…We’ve had kids, we have things happen, or this extended family or parents have passed, or whatever it is, it’s going on, it’s that culture of, you’re here, you’re supported, you’re doing good work, and it’s meaningful to your community, and I think that’s the culture. That’s not one quick answer, but that’s the real culture of what it is, and it all flows from Lois and Barry.
Paul: Yeah, I know it, at Smart Dolphins it’s great because there’s a lot of mutual respect. You expect to be treated respectfully and you treat your colleagues respectfully as well, and we have such a great culture that way. I’ve worked in a lot of workplaces over the years, and with various levels of toxicity, and one of the things that’s great about working at Smart Dolphins is I just don’t have to deal with that. That’s just not even an issue. I wonder though, especially on the real estate side, and maybe it’s not your company, but maybe others as well, because there’s that really hotly competitive market between realtors, does that happen within your company as well, and does that become a bit of a challenge to maintain that culture and the cohesiveness or is that just less of a concern because it’s more boutique for you guys…
David: Yeah, it’s a long answer. When we joined with Lois, we never worked only… And I met here in Lois’ team at the time with the call, we never worked on our own, so it wasn’t like that, it wasn’t that dog-eat-dog against to each other. We worked as a cohesive group and we’ve gone through different iterations here, we’ve had some more independent-minded agents in our group, but we’re coming back and we’d come back full circle and get through EOS that it is…We’re not trying to just grow it at 20 or 30 agents, we have three agents, we have a fourth one that’s training to arrive at the end of this year, plus my business partner Ole, so we’re a small group, and we keep it that way, very selective and they do support each other, they help support company business, they do some of their own work, but only in a limited capacity to help on the sales side. We help support and train and coach their own business, so we try to elevate them as a group, and there could be newer agents the same way Lois elevated us.
We grew faster, we grew more, it was never that competitive here. Lois started that again, she started that mentality, and we’ve carried it forward, so we don’t…And that’s fine. Everybody has a different model. I think some of those brokerages maybe have 200 agents and I suppose they are competing against each other, but that’s not…That’s not where we’re headed, that’s not where we’re from. We think, again, back to Lois, we believe that it is better service for the client, because of that we’re not looking for that, we’re not focused Lois used to say, “don’t focus on the money, focus on the client.” It’s nothing to do with the money and that’ll come and everything will be fine, and we just take that as a group, so you’re never that hungry ’cause you got this support, you’ve got the other business that supporting you, and I was never an agent on my own, and I don’t know that I could have been, that wasn’t my strong suit. My business partner probably could have been. He’s a very good agent and he grew up here, is very connected, but he’s…I don’t always say, I don’t think I could have. I joined a group and we continued that.
Dave: You mentioned the focus on the client. So a quick testimonial, I’ve got a friend who was had some trouble finding a good rental and they came to Duttons, just a different experience. Felt very cared for. Very, very attentive. So she suggests that the company…You could just tell the company cared, and I think that goes back to the values and how that flows through the whole experience for the client.
David: So we try. We work hard at that and it is important on each side of the company, it doesn’t matter, we’re doing…We’re in contact with someone. We know our client is the owner of the property, and that’s our fiduciary obligation to them, the tenants, the residents, that’s the most important asset they have. We tell clients that’s more important asset that they have is going to give their property is that landlord-tenant relationship and then, hey, covid happens. And what do you find out? To navigate through that, to help people through that, and to ensure they’re secure and your property is secure and the people in it are secure. We’ve had to help in various ways to make sure that they’re worried about their rental income coming off that property, they have their bills and mortgage pay behind it, that landlord-tenant relationship became so apparent obvious to us that the years we built up and our leaders and assistants, that’s been doing that in the company for over 10 years here, her relationships and the rest of the team and Faye and Suzzane, how it helps so much get through and carry people through. We had a very high success rate of our clients, their properties were fine, and most of the residents in the properties were fine, and we had been be reached out and help where we could, and there was very few instances where it was a negative story.
So we’re quietly proud of that and we don’t talk about it too much, but you do what you can in your community. There’s a lot of people doing things quietly during this that are shining through, you see neighbors just doing things, stepping up and helping them, a neighbor. We do it in our industry a lot, and we’ll help people through some difficult situations, difficult transitions in their family life.
Paul: And that was part of the reason why we started this podcast, we knew that there was some great companies, great organizations that were doing some really good work and just weren’t… Nobody knows about it because it happens in the shadows, and I know for you guys, obviously the impact you have on your customers is incredible, you also have your community impact fund, which you manage to keep going in 2020 despite the challenges and so on. I’ll let you tell us a little bit about that and some of the success stories from the past year or two.
David: Yeah, that started with my partner and I Ole just years ago, just decide, instead of just committing funds ad hoc here and there, we decided to put some monthly money away for contributions, and we reached out I think one of the first ones we’ve done and reach out to was to help the community center up the road and ask them what they need, and we just started with that, and we helped them build a bike shelter which was probably about eight years ago or seven years ago now, and that was needed outside for strollers and bikes. My kids were going up there, and I was more connected to that before they went over to SJD to the school, and it just grew from that, and we get contacted all the time by people. You always want to do more. Ole and his wife have a big connection to Inspire Health, and we’ve always been a supporter of their organization, the good work they do, and then all the smaller arts organizations in our community, obviously the Moss Street Paint-in and whatnot, but here’s Fairfield artists tours and different plays that we would try and contribute to in the crossing guard, we’ve always contributed part of the salary of the cross guard at Fairfield and Moss here. Because I think it’s, it’s budgetary constraints of the schools, it’s hard to get people sometimes to work for what they can afford, so we’ve helped top up their wages there, and my kids walk across the street every day in the corner, but it’s great to be able to contribute in any way, you can like that, and we hope to just keep it growing. If we all do a little part in the community, that’s the best we can do, the big stuff will take care of itself.
Paul: Yeah, no, that’s so good. It’s great that you’re able to take the success and give some back to the community. That’s really awesome.
I want to talk a little bit about core values, and I have a funny story because we talked about EOS a lot during this podcast, but one of the things that EOS does is it forces you to contend with the values within your organization, and I know having had conversations with several business owners in my different roles at Smart dolphins IT, and prior to that, it’s amazing to me how often you come across a business owner that really..you ask them the question, what are the values of your organization? What are the core values of your organization? They just have an answer. So my first question on that topic, David, is, did you have an answer to that question before you discovered EOS, were you already in touch with clear core values before you went through the EOS exercise of identifying core values?
David: Yes and no. You know, I mean, you do… You have these phrases, you have things you’re thinking about, and again, in our company, this would come down from Lois and Barry Dutton. And it would just it started…We didn’t have it defined, and then you think, “well, my definition is slightly different than my business partners and the leaders of the company, it wasn’t…you couldn’t as a group cohesively state it.” But really a few of the things you’d start…What we had was, we’re humble, we’re always seeking new knowledge, and we knew that, and we know that was one of the things…One of the things, Lois stressed too, that was…We all would just buy into is that you do the right thing always, you just…That’s it. And there’s a few guiding principles that we had, but it was loose, it wasn’t very hard for us, but you have to trim it down to three to five, you can’t have nine, you don’t want to have too many… It just that part of it. But I think it was in us, obviously it was in us and as people, it was in this, but we couldn’t walk quite verbalize it. Now, they’re on posters on the wall as you walk through the offices and stuff, and you see it and you are reminded.
Paul: I think that’s so great too, because I know for me, having clearly identified core values, one of the things that we identified was very similar, I think we called it do the right thing, is that right Dave? Actually maybe he borrowed that from you or you from us I’m not sure, but it becomes… It’s so great because it really just sets the stage. And so have you ever faced with that question of what should I do in the situation, you use your core values as a mirror to reflect on the issue and it becomes… Man, that one alone just was so… It just really helped guide decisions because every business you’re always in these uncomfortable quandaries where it’s like, something maybe went a little sideways, and what should you do about it? The answer in that case is do the right thing. Even if it costs, a little bit of money. Or it’s going to cause you to have to own up to something that you’re not proud of, you still do it because it’s the right thing to do, and that’s…
Paul: …really key, but do you find that they kind of work that way for you now that you have them up on the wall? And did you get a lot of buy-in from your staff around that process as well?
David: We… We did, we did get the buy-in, and I think it was…It was why the long-standing people were here. Susanne Newton’s been here before the beginning of Duttons, a lot of the staff have been here 10 plus years, when you have some newer people mixed in, but the newer people, they did buy-in because we could state it and we knew as authentic to us. I think the people that have always been here, like Susanne, she knew it. She felt that without us even saying it, she knew it, but it does… It is, guides you… It’s just, if you ever question me, we’re in a fast-moving business and we’re dealing with assets that it’s a lot of money, you don’t really… No matter which side of the company you’re on, you’re dealing with people, and it’s emotional right now, it’s very emotional to their purchases and sales, and it’s competitive to rent a property at times where it’s a very… You’re dealing with emotions and dealing with a lot of money and there’s a lot surrounding it, and it’s fast-moving, and if there is any kind of an air…If there’s anything that you’re not sure of our policy of everything is just disclosures, disclose it to the client, is talk about it, and if that is whatever that outcome is, it’s always at what’s in the best interest of the client, and that’s how you view everything through that lens, and we were doing it anyway, but it’s just different when you’re talking about it as a group, and then everybody knew..They buy-in right away.
And actually now, and Dave, I’m sure you know this too, and it’s a recruiting tool, we’re getting people now that want to join the company, that want to come before, we’re not… We’re not actually looking very hard, and the few, the last few people that have come in and join the company, they’ve kind of had a connection with each other or they’ve connected to the values before we’ve even met them, and then they’ve slipped into the stream of working and supporting the “wow, that was easy,” and it seems like they’ve been here for eight years and they’ve been here for six months.
And that’s what EOS is all about… It’s nothing to do with the “we’re brilliant or anything,” we’re not smarter than we were… It’s not us at all, it’s just the support you’re convening through the EOS, and it starts with those values, it’s the glue for everything, but now it’s a recruiting tool, and that’s propelling more growth and more success in helping more clients. Really just from that, it sounds so simplistic, but I think anyone who’s been through that process and takes it seriously, understands.
Dave: That simplicity is really what we need. Business is so complex in particular with your business, you have two sides, two different machines that are trying to think these things up, and so boiling some of that decision-making down and some of the alignment between everybody on some core values is just critical.
David: Sorry, not to interrupt but to make that even more clear to Paul’s question, we’ve moved some people out based on… And then we sat down and we’ve pointed to the values, and it seems that the times now in the last two years that we’ve had for a year and a half that we’ve had to do it, and that could be an agent, it could be, and it’s nothing wrong with them is necessarily great people like somebody, you have a coffee with them that’s fine, but it’s maybe not fitting in with our values because again, there’s different ways to do business, there’s ethics surrounded things, you can choose to be…Some people might not be quite in line with the values, I’ll leave it there, but when you use that as a platform to not have people in the company and in the group, that just strengthens the core that you do have, so we’ve used it in that way, too, and it’s been…Again, everything, because we’ve come through this year stronger and better than ever one of our more successful years, and we have ever… And not just financially, but as a group and systems and people…
And that’s saying a lot. It was a lot of hard work this year in the group has really persevered through their own challenges.
Paul: Well, the core values isn’t necessarily about right versus wrong, I think most companies… “do you want to do the customer well, or do you not? You ask a question like that. Most companies are going to say, “yeah, of course, we want to serve the customer well.” So it’s really about digging a little deeper into the values, and sometimes people can be, like you said, can be awesome people, but just not in alignment with the values exactly as you’ve defined them in your company and maybe become not the best fit as well.
Paul: And this episode is brought to you by Traction.
David: Oh, there’s a lot of other books. There’s a good platforms obviously, but and again, they’re not, that’s not a system. That is anything… You go back in the history of management in the history of all these teachings and coach, they just put it in a literally a track that you can run on step-by step, but they know when they don’t try to say they reinvented the wheel. There isn’t any real reinventing the wheel, there’s some time-tested principles to put in place, but it’s asking you to follow the exercise of steps and most of us can do that easier than the ad hoc trying to just organize your thoughts yourself and build a business. I mean, we’re by no means done with that even back in… We’re not more masters of it at all. We feel like we’re at the beginning, if anything, after all these years, we feel like we’re at our first year. That’s how it feels.
Dave: Curious. How you see technology playing a role in your company, how do you see it in the future success?
David: And again, this is not…It would pre-covid, but covid really brought this light…It just started with you and your company bringing the professions in and backing up a few steps that a: without your support and your company, we were doing things in an ad hoc manner before, much like our other systems, and it’s important, we’ve got tech, security. Obviously, there’s a lot that we have to handle and we were not experts at it at all. So bringing you in and starting – that support the bedrock of that going through the hardware and the equipment and getting the software. Now that we moved through into covid, all the transactions are online. In the sales business, moved online now, the rental side of it’s moved online obviously not meeting clients, we were always collecting rent electronically. What the big transition for us was getting into an internal communication system, we use Basecamp for that, and it took us…It took us a couple of years actually to get everybody onboard, and my business partner started it, it was small in the sales group a couple years ago, and it took us a long time to get everybody to buyin those kinds of tools people creating those kind of tools, those internal communication tools. Wow, those are gamechangers for us now. You’ve got everybody…We have big offices here and we have lots of room, but most people are working from home. I do have people who are out in the field, but we have people working from home or we don’t know where they are, I’m talking to people in my headphones in the day, I don’t know if they’re in the building or not because we’re not mingling, obviously with the health regulations. So now we’re continuing this type of work and our technology or tools are helping us so much, but I’d say the communication tools are number one, you get into the documents, you get into the contractual stuff with clients, but our communication tools has helped us as a group be efficient and keep things in their lane, we’re dealing with a lot of information everyday, and it has to be absolutely accurate, we cannot drop the ball on anything… It’s very important information for a client, so I see that continuing and us looking to finding new ways to be efficient and we’re going to be trying to push that flexibility for everyone in the office. They enjoy it. We enjoy it, I think we’re more productive with it, but you do need those tools, and it goes back to that bedrock of what you’ve provided us with the actual system and the servers and the computer and hardware to be able to handle that.
Dave: But do you think you’ll continue to be partially remote in some sense, ongoing?
David: Yeah, yeah, I do. I mean we have lots of space. We have own our two buildings now here that Lois had and we have lots of room to grow in you, but there’s advantages, there’s advantages of people being flexible. And a lot of our work, we’re not really worried about it being 9-5. I mean I see work go through at 10 o’clock, I’ll see the 6 in the morning, it doesn’t change things as long as the group is communicating, being supportive, you know. I bet we’re more efficient, we’re more productive this year, what we learned through covid, once the shock of it was through (March, April, May). By June you realize, “okay, you know the bottom isn’t just going to fall out of the whole economy.” It’s scary that we’re going to transition through this to help people through this, and once you get that mindset that you can do it and you will be okay. I run off that flexibility more, I hope to make.. One of our goals this year is go to a four-day work week too for everybody, and I mean that five-day salary and not 10-hour days were just talking four days.
David: But again, if you get the right people together, I believe in this stuff for a long time…If you get the right people together that want to support each other and be there. Why not? Why can’t you do it? And again, that’s a recruiting tool, I remember it wasn’t too long ago. The unemployment rate was such in town is very hard to attract the best people, you do need an advantage to keep people with you, and I think those things go a long way to be supportive in their lives, and whether they have young families or not, or whether they just have hobbies or they want to go and volunteer on that extra day, and they go to it, but that all benefits the community and that’s one of my goals. And in my role, I push those kind of big agenda items and say “I don’t know how to build the systems for everyone, do it…” That’s where Brian will come in, the Director of Operations and he’ll help build that. I say, this is where we want to go. Let’s hit this. But we learned through covid that it can be done. And I would argue better service to the client too. Nothing is to suffer through this…
Paul: It’s interesting you mentioned the four-day work week, of course, there’s lots of politics and scientific studies and all this sort of stuff happening around that, but there’s definitely…I think one of the things we learned probably before covid, but certainly since covid is working yourself to death for 60 hours a week, you don’t get 60 hours of productivity out of that, right? We’re all kind of human beings, and then we do have a capacity, and why punch a clock just so you can fill the hours, if you could be working that much more efficiently and serving your customers better and working fewer hours. It really is something I think people are going to have a long, hard look at, but that’s probably a whole other episode which you bring you on to talk just about that.
David: I don’t know that much about it, but I know that it can be done. And that’s enough for me. For sure.
Paul: Well, this has been great, we’re going to wrap up quickly here, but I do have one more question for you, but before we do, please be sure to check out buttons, Duttons.com, of course, they have their main office there right in the heart of Fairfield, Moss and Fairfield, you’ve probably seen it as you’ve gone through that neighborhood, but before we go, David, we talk with lots of successful business owners here on Island Thrive, and one of the things we like to ask is, what business advice as a business leader would you give to other aspiring business leaders, either within the context of getting through covid or just something you’ve learned a big lesson in your business career.
David: We think about this a lot to me because we’re still learning and growing ourselves, so it’s really knowing, I think, ultimately, what you’re not good at, you really, I see, and I’ve done this before I started in business in Vancouver quite a while. You try to do everything in the beginning, you jack of all trades, you’re doing everything, and then you really kind of fail. I look at some of the stuff I was trying to do a restaurant and cafe industry, and just from how to be a good business partner to handling all the details of it, and unfortunately that’s part of it when you’re growing a little bit of capital. But you really have to surround yourself with complementary people that you have to seek that out, and it’s not… The books will talk about that and coaches talk about that, but I think when I met my business partner here accidentally, we’re quite different people, but that complementary, the way you view things though, he helped me be better, I’d like to think that I have something to add to that too, that conversation of…“Look, you’re just so dialed in and super good at that, I can never do that, I’m just not that detailed, I’m not that good at that, but I can push this and together,” and that’s why our business relationship with work. But I think you really have to seek that out and admit, for the EOS side, “you know what, I’m not that good at this, and I really need to be because you’ll propel yourself faster and you have to. As like a sports team, you have to be able to get along, you have to be able to work well with others, be a good team player yourself. Yes, you’re a leader. Yes, some people call your boss or whatever it is, they’re going to say that you have to be that authentic at it and humble, and I think when you admit what you don’t know, you know, it puts everybody’s guard down a little bit. It’s like, “okay.” Because I used to go into meetings, you try to prove things here a little bit, you’re younger, you’re like, I’m just out of my depth. I don’t know what I’m talking about, I might own the place, but you really have to be honest, but there’s people that are specialized in and you have done work with them and nurture them, coach that, support them.
And that’s what we have here, thankfully. So I think it’s really knowing, being honest about yourself and knowing what you don’t know really, and then seeking that out.
Paul: Love that… Yeah, it’s so true. And there’s parallels working in technology, I know Dave is a pretty smart guy, but he can’t know everything there is to know about technology and certainly most industries, you can’t know everything there is to know about any industry, so that is some great advice. Thanks, David, we’re going to wrap it up there. So thank you everybody, for tuning in, if you’ve been listening on our website, you might not know, you can also get Island thrive on the podcast apps on your phone, and so check us out on Google podcasts and on Apple podcast as well. And otherwise, have a great day and we’ll check in with everybody the next episode.