Thomas Green here with Ethical Marketing Service. On the podcast today, we have Jeff Morrill. Jeff, welcome.
Thank you. Glad to be with you.
Would you like to take a moment and just tell the audience a little bit about yourself and what you do?
Sure, I’ll skip ahead to where I find myself today. I own with my brother and a couple of partners that we brought along later, a business that generates about $100 million dollars in annual sales revenue And that all started with a little Subaru dealership in Norwell Massachusetts to be opened in 1998 and my brother and I don’t come from any, any kind of wealth inherited or otherwise. So when we are looking for a business as young men to start, we needed to find something that we could afford to do and something we are really interested in doing. We’d always loved cars, both of us, my brother at the time, I actually was working for a Ford motor company because he had always wanted to be in the car business.
I’d accidentally found myself working in the service department of the dealership because the politician that I volunteered for in college owned a Volvo dealership and when I couldn’t find a job after graduation, he invited me to, so um, to work with him and he knew I needed, I needed money to pay the rent and I was happy to take anything had he been in the envelope business, I would have called him still be selling envelopes today. But anyway, so since we opened that first ownership, we’ve added another and then we’ve gotten into other businesses to real estate, some cell tower infrastructure, just some interesting things that kind of came along organically. We didn’t really go looking for them so much. We just kind of stumbled upon them and just to conclude the, my introductory bio here with an observation that that’s so much to business I think is just putting out a lot of lightning rods and many of the lightning urology put out will never attract lightning but a few of them will and so we’ve had many failures along the way.
A lot of things we tried that didn’t work a lot of investments that didn’t pay off but the few that have, you know worked really well and we, we continue to invest in those with our time and capital and it’s all turned out really well with a lot of lessons learned along the way. Mm I mean it sounds like a little bit of a rags to riches story. Is that accurate or is that too much of a simplification? Yeah, I I don’t know, you know, we come from very modest means but I wouldn’t say they were rags, you know my mom was a bank teller and my dad was a teacher so you know we had a nice roof over our head and we always had food and I had access to excellent public schooling all the way through my education. So I would describe that I like to describe as the American dream that, that there’re still opportunities for some people. And I wouldn’t say everybody. So I think that there’s a lot of inequality in our country. I wouldn’t say that everybody has the same access to opportunity that my brother and I had, but there is still a lot of opportunity in this country for people who are able to identify something that’s important to them, work hard, pursue it.
And in our case, you know, with a lot of luck, you know, things can turn out really well. Sure, well, the reason for the question was just that the, you sent over profit wise, which is the book, the new book, is it out at the moment or coming out February 28 comes out. Okay, well, one of the questions early on in the book is I’m paraphrasing so you have to correct me is something like would you, would you be in the same position if you, if you came from an impoverished background, something like that. And when you started your story off, it made me think of, it made me think of that collateral reason. Yeah, sure. I like that question. It’s in the context in the book of a reference to a philosopher named John Rawls and he wrote a book among others called A Theory of Justice. And he asked the question if you knew let me, I’m sorry if you didn’t know that you were going to get the position that you enjoy in society today, would you build a society that has the rules that it does?
So another way to phrase that if I don’t do as good a job is articulating it as John Rawls does, is basically if you didn’t know what your lot was gonna be, wouldn’t you work a lot harder to make sure that everybody coming into the world had a more equal chance to enjoy a good life? And in my context. And I look around the country now, when I see that there are some neighbourhoods that if you’re born into researchers predict you have a very low likelihood of success in conventional terms, In other words, you know, graduating from high school and getting a good job and marrying and all the things that we traditionally associate with, kind of, the basics of, of um, you know, a good life. And I think that many entrepreneurs, I need sometimes forget that that a lot of their success as hard as they work, does not have everything to do with their effort and their intelligence, but rather the advantaged position they find themselves in, or they found themselves in earlier in their lives, is it referred to as the veil of ignorance, Is that the phrase for Yes, yeah, that’s the thought experiment, that’s his name for it.
So, tell me about just the process of writing the book. What was it like to do it? This is my first book and I’ve learned so much about writing and publishing, you know, the book was in my mind for a long time because the lessons were accumulating over time and I had a terrible bike accident, broke my femur in five places. I was lucky to escape it with my life. And what that meant is I was incapacitated for months and now over two years later, I am still not quite right from that and probably never will be, but I was lucky to have a wife that supported me and took care of me for the months during that time and I wasn’t interested in watching Netflix or doing puzzles. I saw it as a golden opportunity to do something I always wanted to do which was to commit these lessons to paper and to share them particularly with our team. Originally when I sat down to write the book and to see where it would go. The vision I had was that it was a document that I would share with our team because I had realised that had had the fall I had taken off that mountain bike and just a little different.
I wouldn’t have been around anymore and I thought that it was important that they, that everybody that’s on the team now and the people that would join, you know, later would have the opportunity to see exactly why we did it the way we did, and hopefully to inspire them to pursue the same kind of vision that we that we originally established the dealership with. So, um, after that long introduction, let me let me say that it was much more difficult to write a book than I realised and much more difficult to get it published than I realised. There’s um, you know, you read a book and it’s clear and well written and perhaps I didn’t understand just how much effort it takes to move a draft to that very finished product that that reads easily without errors that hangs together cohesively in a way that makes sense. And I think my book does that, but it was a surprising amount of effort to do it. I really enjoyed the process, but it was it was a surprise there for your listeners who have met, who have not yet written a book and are interested in writing a book.
I do have an observation that may be useful to them and it’s something I discovered later when I went to get the book published is that it’s very difficult for publishers to find an audience for a book nowadays because there are so many channels that that are cluttered with so many other communications that it’s there’s just no where do you go to advertise a book. You know, it’s just very difficult, it’s very expensive to do. So what publishers like to do is they like to find authors that bring an audience already. And I think that was the difficulty that I had. That that even though I learned a lot in the quality of the writing and the utility of the lessons in the book was high. I didn’t have 50,000 Twitter followers that I could announce, Hey, I’ve written a new book. Please go out and buy it. So I came to the publishing table with no built-in audience.
So I ended up the publisher, it’s called TCK. It’s a small outfit out of Indiana. They specialise in first-time authors. And it’s a, the way they make it work is that they have a very low expense structure. So they can spend the resource they have promoting the authors rather than, you know, paying rent, that kind of thing. We’re coming back to your accident. I’ve heard some stories maybe not the same but similar and the sort of the lesson they got from that was a bit of clarity about what’s important and what you focus, what you want to focus on was that did that happen to you? Yeah, sure. I don’t mean to sound flip about this, but I think I think everybody should have a good near death experience in middle age because it does have that clarifying effect and it gives you an opportunity to think about how you’ve spent your life as I was lying in the hospital tonight after it happened.
I mean, I was still in shock from the experience, you know, for so many reasons and I remember thinking, you know, if this had been my last day, would this have been enough? That was the question that I had and I had a lot of answers to it and I’m embarrassed to say that to the extent that I felt like it had not been enough. It had been particularly in the area that I had not given enough back. I feel like I have, I am the beneficiary of so many investments on the part of people that came before me, people in my family that sacrifice and like my grandparents, neither of them graduated from high school, they went to work to support their families and you know, they, they put all their effort into taking care of their kids, so they’d have more opportunities to my parents. And I think about all the teachers that, you know, earn a lot less than they could have earned in other professions to help me grow into the person I can be and to acquire the skills that I would need.
So it was, it was a real wake up call for me and I thought I’d start with the book and one of the reasons why I start, you know, the day after I got home from the hospital, I start working on the book because I figured that was the way to clarify my thoughts about what I wanted to do in whatever time I had left. And also to redouble my efforts to make sure that, that I had honoured the investments that so many fine people had made in me and honour those investments by sharing the benefits, financially, intellectually or whatever, whatever things I have been fortunate enough to acquire over time, I think it really put the emphasis for me on, on, you know, let’s get serious about sharing these now. Do you feel like it reminds me of, have you heard of peter singer at all? You know, the philosopher? Yes, of course. Yeah. He, he’s got he had a book out which is the life you can save. And he advocates doing sort of at least a significant percentage of what your earnings might be to philanthropy essentially.
And he was asked about, well, what if the scenario is that you can get to a stage where you’re doing very well and you can do more for other people from being in that position relative to someone who might perhaps do it from scratch and maybe wouldn’t reach that stage, Do you feel like you can do more now as a result of being successful in business? Oh, certainly. I think there’s institutions are under the control of people with capital, primarily in a capitalist system. So I think there’s a big responsibility that that business people who find themselves with resources to share or invest. There’s a big responsibility that they have to make sure that they’re doing that wisely and for the benefit of people to use those resources in a way that support their own businesses, but also support the community.
And that’s really the whole premise, the big theory of the book. The book goes into very, you know, technical eggs. I provide a lot of examples in in ways for people to implement that big lesson. But that’s the theory of the book, is that like in our case, one of the things I’m very proud of that we figured out a way to do and we started doing this even before we were well known before the business is well established is we saw an opportunity to include people in our industry that had been excluded. So for example, our first hire was when we opened in 1998 was a sales woman and sales women are rare. They were rare then are rare still, but that started a trend and a pattern for us of finding a way to give the opportunities and the income potential in our industry to people who otherwise wouldn’t have had those opportunities. One thing you mentioned about the book, which I really liked was it’s rather than just being sort of, this is information for you to consume.
There is at the end of each chapter, I believe profit wise questions where you can actually reflect on what you’re doing and you can raise some of those points for people to implement. Did you do that on purpose, or was it what’s the idea there? I wanted to challenge people to think about what they were doing. You know, I read a lot of books, I can tell you do too. And sometimes I almost want to have a conversation with the author when I when I read something, I’m tempted. I’ve done this before. I email authors and I welcome people who read the book to email me. They can reach me at jeffmorrill.com. And I respond to every personal email and I figured that any absence of me being there with the reader, which is impossible. I can’t sit there and every person’s living room with them while they read the book that I could challenge them to think about some of the things that that I discussed in the chapters and to challenge them to think about what they’re doing and how it’s impacting other people.
And I really admire the quality of introspection in people and I try to do that and myself, in other words, to think about my behaviour, evaluate my behaviour and examine the consequences of the decisions I make on other people. Because if you think about so much of the negative externalities that occur in the world, so much of the bad things that happen, A lot of them I think are traced back to people not thinking about what they’re doing and the consequences of what they’re doing. You know, I don’t think oil company executives, for instance, I don’t, I’m not, I don’t think they spend enough time saying what is the significance of the of the work that we’re doing and how is our business impacting the world? Because if they did, they might, they might find a way to evolve their companies to create fewer environmental problems like filling the world with carbon.
One of the things which I think has become a trend or at least is becoming a trend is companies that highlight the fact that there for a certain cause and because their customers perhaps of a particular demographic that’s important to them, it means that they have some form of differentiation in the marketplace. So, for example, you know, we’re particularly green were against climate change or whatever and that might be appealing to a particular consumer over another company that they might choose. I think that to make the ideas that I discussed in the book work and what I’m wanting to. The idea, I guess I’m referring to in particular is that that doing the right thing can be good for your company is that you need to make sure that your customers and prospective customers understand what they’re, what your values are as a company so that they can be inspired and come to appreciate those values.
So that’s the general principle. Let me describe a very particular example of how we did it. I think it’s worked very well is in 2011 we installed a huge solar array on one of our facilities, the Planet Subaru building back in 2011. The technology wasn’t very good. We’ve had a lot of technical problems with our solar array, but it works great when it works, and it powers our entire showroom like on an annual basis. The amount of energy that produces, you know, every photo copier in the showroom, every, Every computer it powers. It’s about eight homes worth of solar production to give you some idea anyway. So it was very expensive. I think net after you know that the tax grants might have been $250,000. And so one of the questions I asked when we did this is, well, how can I get a return on this investment that we’ve made in the environment.
And, and one of the ways I figured is that if we shared this with the people who are interested in perhaps buying a vehicle that these are the kinds of things are important to us and we’d appreciate it if you share those values to do business with us and it has worked as, as we, as we anticipated. We’ve done a good job. I think if you visit plant super dot com, you’ll see. We actually, you could look at a real time solar production, uh, number right now. Like as we speak, what the thing is producing and we just kind of make it interesting and uh, you know, light-hearted and it’s a way to invite people to do business with us that share our values in a way that it’s not too um, you know, tacky. I’m not crazy about the advertising, the marketing where, where you, you go way out of your way to, uh, point out how, how ethical or moral you are. I mean, it’s, it’s um, you can definitely overdue that.
It’s like, it’s like trying to tell someone you’re funny. You know, people figure out on the own on their own whether you’re funny, if you say something that’s funny. If you tell them you’re explaining a joke. Yeah, right? And it’s perfect. Perfect. If you have to explain a joke, it’s not funny, right? It’s the old blood. I kind of feel the same way that if you have to, if you have to hit prospective customers over the head with your values, you’re probably not doing it right? So we don’t, we don’t really um, we figure we have pretty savvy customers and we figure they’ll, they’ll figure it out if we share with them, you know, things are important to us and what they’re doing that we don’t need to, we don’t need to to really hammer that home that they’ll figure it out. So the one thing I mean, I know that probably this is the same for everyone, but I’m looking at the book through my own lens. And the one thing which popped out at me a lot was your approach to hiring, which I wish I had seen, you know, a little while ago because it could have really helped me, but a couple of the principles which I really liked and if you could expand upon them, that would be great is never the right time to hire the wrong person and it’s never the wrong time to hire the right person.
Sure, and I should mention in the book and I won’t, you know, go through the whole process here. We do have kind of a start to finish exactly how you do this is one chapter, you can read it in 20 minutes and I think it will transform for many people, the way that they’re hiring, it’s certainly transformed our way of hiring it, hiring people. We just, we just learned that incrementally and gradually over time. And similarly I wish someone had just put this chapter in front of me as a younger man, I would have saved myself a lot of money and, and more importantly, so much heartache because it’s, it’s really tough to, you know, hiring is a very personal thing. You know, you get to know the people on your team, they become like part of your family. So if you’re doing it wrong and someone ends up doing something and we’ve had this app, we’ve had some people do some really bad stuff we had to fire them for and I’m still scarred is probably too strong a word, but, but you know, something like that years later.
So, so I but anyway, to, to address your question in particular, what we find it takes a lot of, uh, in the case of it’s never the wrong time to hire the right person, the right person doesn’t come along instantly or automatically just because you run an ad looking for, let’s say, I’ll just use an example of an automotive salesperson for us. You know, we can’t just get, we get a lot of applicants, but, but just because we run an ad, we can go two or three months doing using our regular recruiting tools and not find the person we’re looking for. And I think that there are some businesses, you know, your Google or Apple, you know, and you’re hiring for programmers, but I mean, I think that they probably get, you know, for every position they have, their companies are so desirable because of their brands for people to work out. I don’t think they have any trouble finding good candidates. But most of us aren’t running companies like Apple and google and that kind of thing.
And so we have to, we have to work a little harder to find people. So occasionally and we’ve had the situation occur, someone just shows up. Maybe it’s a customer, you know, we’ve had that instance where a customer comes in, they’re waiting for an oil change and someone I’ve known for a while, they knock on my door and they say, you know, hey, I just left my position because I took a buyout or whatever. I couldn’t stay on the commute into Boston anymore, whatever it is. And I think I’d be really good, you know sell it and I know that we don’t, we don’t need someone, you know, it’s like we don’t we don’t need a person at that time. The reason why I emphasise that principle though is that as your company gets bigger sometimes you can find a spot for them. Maybe it’s even temporary because they can’t wait for you to get the exact opening that they want, but maybe they can find a job, you can find a job for them in a different apartment with the promise that as soon as you do have an opening that you’ll move them into the position that they, that they really want to do.
That’s one way to handle that situation. Another way is to just take on the person anyway and you know, you take on some incremental personnel expense. But what we found over the years is that some of our key people are, you know, absolutely priceless. I mean, when I think about people that had they not joined our team, the costs that we wouldn’t have even known we were paying, they’re enormous. You know, if we had missed an opportunity, like my partner dale, he joined us as a salesperson in 2002 and had he we and we missed him. I mean, he’s he has helped, helped us build the business that we have today and it wouldn’t be the business we have today without him. So, so when you have that really special person that you know is really special, that’s why we want to want to find a place for them and in reverse, I’ll make this a little shorter on the, on the opposite part of the equation, which is, it’s never the right time to hire the wrong person.
We’ve certainly found ourselves in over the years where we’re just shorthanded for whatever reason, you know, circumstances, business picks up in a way that we didn’t expect or, you know, two or three people, two part, you know, in very rapid succession and you find yourself you really need someone and we’ve made the mistake just to get the warm body who is capable of answering the phone or discharging the very minimal requirements of the position. We’ve hired those people and then ended up regretting it. We wouldn’t have just been better running short handed for the additional week, month, six months, however long it took to find the workers. Great point. He also, well just a one thing that I picked up on there, which is with your customer example, it’s almost like it made me think of expanding the lens of who has the potential to be your worker essentially. So you don’t have to just wait for that scenario of I have a job and I’m looking for applicants.
It can be, you can be anyone potentially. Yeah. No, I think that’s a good point related to that. One of the ways I talk a lot in the book about you know more inclusive hiring, how to how to bring people into your business that they are not well represented in your industry. And one of the ways that we do that is by not requiring too much experience because if you require a lot of experience when you think about it, you’ve really narrowed your talent pool to that small group of people that are already doing that particular thing. And the example that comes to mind is in the US Navy, you know, they spend years maybe. I don’t know it’s 5, 10 years. I don’t know how long it takes to train a fighter pilot to, uh, to operate those very, very sophisticated flying machines. But the people who launched them off the carrier decks, Many of those people are early 20somethings. Maybe even late teens. They train people how to, how to move high explosives around uh, an air station that’s smaller than a football field.
They teach people how to operate incredibly powerful steam catapults that flung these $30 million dollar aircraft into the great blue yonder. The Navy is doing, doing in a very short time. You know, a training, a series of training sessions with people and getting up to speed to do very difficult, dangerous tasks. And, and I encourage people to think about that example, the next time they want to run and add on a, on a recruiting site that requires five years of experience and a master’s degree because there are so many positions that just don’t need that kind of experience. If you need a doctor or a lawyer. Yeah, they need to have graduated with degrees appropriate to the field. But for so many positions in business. You know, if you’ve never worked in a parts department, in a dealership or, or a warehouse, um, for a, for a company that ships products, I mean, did you need to do that before. You can, you can learn those skills quickly.
If you have a very basic system for, for training people in your company does that, is that based on just experience or is it based on what ties into the moral side of the book? Which is there are plenty of people that might hire a graduate. But there are not so many people that might hire someone with no experience even though they might be great for the job. Does that tie in at all? Yeah, we don’t. I mean, I guess what we look for we’re just it’s fun and there’s this there’s this expression of military. Are you looking for a soldier or you’re looking for someone that looks good in a uniform and that applies to interviewing and applies to other things in life, too? I think we just don’t really care what they’ve done before as it relates to the specific position. As long as they can satisfy. Two really important criteria in the first criterion is that they have good character and that’s a nebulous term.
I go into some description of it in the book, but we need people that are conscientious that care about the impacts of their behaviour on other people that know how to show up for work that are organised. I mean just basically like good folks that want to and are capable of being good people in society. So we start there. And the second thing is do they have the aptitude, the intelligence, the passion, the skills, potential for a position. So I’ll give an example. We have six women turning wrenches in our shop as technicians. That’s more women technicians than any viewership of any kind, any size in the United States. And one of the ways we’ve done that is that we didn’t require any of them to have previously been a technician. Instead, we were looking for people who like to work with their hands and who wanted a shot at the opportunity to you know, get the income and the career path that that that profession would allow.
And so I think our broader view of who we are willing to hire has been a huge key to our success because it has deepened our talent pool so much. Yeah. Yeah. I can probably don’t have a great example like that, but I can relate to that somewhat. There is a little bit which follows that section which is to never ignore red flags as someone who perhaps might have a tendency to over analyse things. How do you balance the red flag versus maybe reading into something which isn’t what you think it might be maybe. Yeah. So, so in the context of the book, what I’m talking about is a red flag lots. I mean, there are lots of them, right, but I’ll just rattle off the first one that comes to mind which is someone showing up five minutes late for an interview. You know, one of the ways you can interpret that is just say well gosh if they can’t show up on time for an interview when their behaviour is under, you know under a microscope, how can we ever expect this person to do it once they’re on our team?
You know it’s a reasonable question. So generally any single red flag like that is not disqualifying because there are, we all make mistakes and you know there’s you know you can get caught in traffic and by the time you look at your watch and by the time you’re able to make the call it just makes more sense to walk in the door five minutes late. So it’s not like something like that. We’re just you can’t work on our team but we’re definitely going to make a note of that. And if we have three interviews, if you show up late for the second interview or the third interview after showing up late for the first, then that pretty much tells what we need to know. I mean, at some point, that the weight of the red flags, you know becomes more than the applicant can bear. You know, they just collapse under the weight of their own carrying all these red flags. So that’s one example. I mean you could use you know maybe more consequential red flags which is you know you discover in the course of interviewing that that they are what I would call a brilliant jerk.
What I mean by that is they’re very technically proficient at the position that they have but they can never stay at a job for more than three or six months and you ask them why and it’s like well my managers are terribly unreasonable And say well yeah we’ve all had unreasonable managers, we have 10 in a row, maybe it’s not the managers, maybe it’s you, you know, and we discover these things by asking a lot of questions. And one of the techniques that I describe in the in the hiring chapter of the book is how important it is to have interview templates or scripts for each our interviews, we do three interviews. The third is more of a free form, you know spend the day with us, we call the shadow day but the first two or traditional interviews and we sit down with cannons and we have a script depending it’s different for each position. Of course we’re going to ask different questions of a salesperson, we would have the technician but there is some overlap to anyway. The importance of the script is that allows us to dig into these things and like one of the questions on the script and these scripts are available free at jeffmorrill.com.
Many of the tools that we use in our businesses every day or are we post the right on the Right on the website. So people could use them even if they didn’t have the $20 for the for the book or the $5 for the book in any case those questions help us dig in to those important qualities that a person brings to a workplace and allows us to spend the interview time talking about those instead of things that don’t really have a lot of signal value like hobbies or pets or those kinds of things which are very common interview questions but don’t tell you really anything that you need to know. Mm That’s a really good point I haven’t heard that said but it is quite common for people to ask those questions and the outcome is a little bit unclear as to why you would do that right? Yeah. I mean the time is so precious. We have you know those first two interviews we have their multiple team members on our part that we that we participate in those but they never run longer. I mean realistically it is 60 minutes you know, so you get those we have basically two hours between the two interviews to really get into to discover the traits that a person is going to bring in.
Yeah, you don’t have a minute to waste. You really don’t. So that’s why we want to, that’s why we use the interview scripts and I should mention those are some we developed ours over time to identify like we did some work in preparing those scripts. We wanted to make sure when we hire again, I keep coming back to the automotive sales person. That’s a good example as any, we identified the qualities that we’re looking for in that person. And then we built the questions around those to try to discover those skills. So, uh, for an example, we know that conscientiousness is really important for our sales process. We need an organised sales person that can return phone calls that can make sure if a customer orders a car with five or six accessories, that those accessories are actually on the car when the customer comes to take delivery of the car. So we have questions that address conscientiousness, you know, in particular, it’s a great point.
You mentioned in your answer about the three interviews and that’s something that’s in the book. Is that, again, is that based on experience that you, you think that’s the, that’s the best way to go. And you also mentioned that – have you had some employees that you hired with? No experience? Did you do that many interviews with each of them? Everybody goes through the three interview process as of, you know, I think we might have instituted that. We’ve been in business for 21 years. That might have been 10 years ago that we’ve been doing it. It took us a while to figure it out. But the reason we did it is we just, we started keeping track of our hiring mistakes. And what I mean by a hiring mistake is someone that we had to fire someone that left after being with us for a week, three weeks, three months people that we hired that we just, they just couldn’t do the job. So anyway, we discovered we weren’t getting enough information, useful information about our applicants and, and there’s, you know, there’s no magic to doing that.
You basically need enough time and enough good questions. Two draw out who the person is and isn’t. And so I mean you could do two interviews maybe or four. I don’t know. I don’t know if there’s three. It just works. The reason why three works so well for us is that here’s what it does for us. The first interview is um, it’s a way to introduce the facility um, one or 2 or three team members to the person and to assess whether there’s enough compatibility and potential to continue investing effort. But one interview isn’t enough because we just don’t, we don’t have enough people there. You don’t have, we don’t have enough eyes on the candidate and we don’t have enough time. So that’s why we need the second interview to introduce more people, more eyes, more perspectives on the candidate.
And we need that third interview, what I call the shadow day. That’s our opportunity for the entire department to meet that person. So how it would work again to use an automotive sales person as the example is that person? We’d invite him on a busy day, like a Saturday afternoon. You know, maybe we haven’t commented. Tenley that for something like that, we buy lunch. They did join us and they just hang out and they listen and they observe and in between customers, you know, the other their colleagues will their future potential colleagues will come over and you know introduce themselves and ask me a few questions. That’s an opportunity for the candidate to make sure that this environment is what he or she really wants to be in. So we’re not guessing about what it’s like to sell cars. They can actually see it happening right before their eyes. And we found that that Shadow day perhaps the most important function of it.
Although there are some other good functions is that it reduces that quick departure. You want to be my quick departure as you bring someone on board, you train them and they quit two weeks later. And with this isn’t what I thought it was like you guys are great but I just can’t do this and we don’t we can’t, we invest way too many resources and hiring and training to afford that and we found that the Shadow Day it doesn’t eliminate it, put it cuts down on that. Yes. Great suggestion you mentioned in the, in your answer and also in the book that you like to get the staff involved in that process of hiring someone has that what’s that been like for you? It started, you know, I actually described the incident, I’m so embarrassed but whatever I’m it happened and it was a good mistake because I learned a lot. But I described the book an incident where I hired a person, you know, before we had this this process developed, you know, after one interview and we schedule and the guy just never even showed up like he quit as he told me he was giving us two weeks’ notice and he just like the day that he was supposed to arrive came.
He didn’t even show him he didn’t call me, didn’t email me just vaporised and I realised that that I wasn’t, you know, I have pretty good intuition about people, but you know, I have my own blind spots and limitations and perspectives and biases and you can mitigate those limitations by expanding the number of eyes that are looking at a candidate and sometimes we’ll have a single person, You know, in a department. You know, they’ll the candidate will meet 10 people and that one person will say, you know what I he mentioned something to me about this experience that happened to him at a former employer and I didn’t really like the way he talked about it, you know, which then gives us an opportunity to dig in a little deeper, we’ll have 1/4 interview, we’ve done that. You know if we’re like on the fence about someone we like we’ll come back in and we’ll address those, those questions that we have or any concerns that maybe people raised.
It’s not part of our process normally, but we will do it, you know, as necessary. And I think that the more the more eyes you get, the more red flags you see, but more importantly to it’s a gift to your to your teams that and it says a lot, doesn’t it? When you have an opportunity as a as a line person in your company to have an impact or influence you get to influence who your colleagues are going to be like people don’t just show up. Oh, here’s your new colleague. Like you already met that person and had a chance to interact with them and had a chance to give your give your feedback on that candidate. And I think that’s you know, one of the million bricks and building a healthy company culture. Especially if you combine it with your shadow day that you said, I guess it’s possible that someone might interact with someone else differently than they might interact with you maybe.
00 Certainly. Yeah. I mean, I think that you know they psychologists talk about personalities being transactional and it’s a very technical word in the context that means we are different people to different people and I think we all we can all relate to that, right? I mean, I think when we get around our buddies maybe we’re a little a little sillier, a little crazier than we are with you know, important business contacts where we might be more formal and they know us in a different way than our buddies do. So I think that by interacting with different people, different aspects of the candidate’s personality will be revealed. Great information. I will certainly reread that chapter because I just think, I think personally, that chapter alone is worth the purchase of the book. I mean, thank you. So I appreciate that. one thing I did notice was although there is there is a chapter on marketing in negotiation, but there isn’t one on sales specifically.
Was that on purpose? Especially here? Yeah, there say it’s interesting. No, no one’s ever asked me that question. There. We there’s a chapter that they’re paired up sales and customer service. And there was a lot of discussion with the publisher about whether there should be a dedicated sales chapter. And what I realised is that I think there are general principles of sales, but the industry you’re in makes a big difference and if you’re, you know, you’re selling you’re an e commerce company selling courses to aspiring authors for instance. I mean that I mean, yeah, are their principles in common with selling a car on an auto dealership floor totally. But, but they’re so different. I felt like I actually wrote the chapter and felt like I couldn’t include it because it was too particular to the car business and I didn’t, I didn’t want to write a book about the carbon system.
I’ve been doing it too long, anyway. So I think that that was one of the issues. But I do, I do want to point out there are some, some keys to sales which are in the book and I think are, are very important and things that are very important to me and I talk about how we don’t use the word closing in our company. So an example would be a realtor would say I close the sale today. The smiths bought the house. Like we don’t use that word because we see, we see transactions where the salesperson isn’t really the most important part of the deal. It’s the customer is the customer responding to customers decision and our job. And I think in so many cases the job of the salesperson is just to get out of the way and to facilitate the transaction not to overcome objections not to push.
I think in the internet era that’s ever more important because people come in to our businesses, whether it’s car business or any other business, they come in so knowledgeable already that they often know exactly what they want. And we’ve certainly seen this evolve over the years. People come in with the stock number of the vehicle they want to buy. They’ve done all the research on that particular vehicle and that we have that they can find and they sometimes know more about it than our than our own salespeople because they’ve devoted themselves becoming experts on this particular generation of this particular vehicle. And, and at that point, I mean, any traditional notions of selling, I don’t think really apply. I think we use the idea and I encourage our sales teams to just what do we have to do to make this easy? Like that’s the question the salesperson should be asking for him is if the person wants to test drive, let’s have the thing ready on the, you know, if there’s an appointment, let’s have the car, you know, the snow brooms off the car.
If it’s in the winter, let’s have it ready to go so they can test drive it. If, if they like it, then let’s make sure we ask intelligent questions about how they’re gonna pay for it so that we can, we can make the financing process or the receding of their payment very easy. I see that the job of the salesperson as as removing obstacles, just making things easy for a customer. And I think that’s why our sales process in the car business. I don’t think it’s particularly unusual in many other industries, but it’s very unusual in the car business. We’re not pressuring people to do anything. We just don’t, we don’t do that. We don’t do that well. If you can’t, if you don’t buy it today, you can’t get the deal tomorrow is not all that the silly stuff that you’re, that make dealerships notorious for their practices. We don’t do it because we don’t have to, we just want to make it easy for the customer. I think that whatever industry you’re in removing friction very important nowadays. Yeah, I think there’s another, another selling point for the business as well. So if you openly say, you know, we don’t engage in that type of behaviour, you attract a certain type of perhaps client that is interested in not wanting to deal with that.
So I don’t think that you, you have to do those sort of tactics to do well. And I think you probably proven that right. Yeah, yeah. We trademarked in 2002 our slogan that describe the dealership you’re on dealership and, and some people, you know, require little explanation, but most people kind of get the idea with, with just the word that we’re the alternative to the typical dealership experience and, and we identified what we were able to do differently and, and um, the trick though, is making sure that you followed through on that promise, you know, because to represent to market your yourself in a particular way you’re making a promise. And that’s why I think about, you know, what a brand, when you think about what does a brand fundamentally a brand is a promise. You know that if you, you think about apple products for instance, and what does it mean to be apple, it means they’re making a promise. You’re going to give you a high-quality piece of hardware that will work intuitively.
And, and I think whether we’re in the plumbing industry or where we’re selling cars or an insurance or any of the many other businesses, I think that’s really important. Have you got anything to add on negotiating? Because I know it’s a chapter, but at the same time I see it as just slightly related to sales. Yeah, inappropriate that you made that connection I think, you know, yeah, mm hmm. When you use the word negotiation it for me anyway, as a really pejorative, you know, kind of scary sound to it as you imagine this kind of like film wrestling experience with, with, with another person and you’re there, there’s a real strong sense of potential loss. I think when you, when you hear that because you don’t want to be taken for a ride, you know, by someone whose negotiation skills exceed yours. So I talk technically about some of the things you can do to make sure that you get more of what you want in the book.
But, but I think it’s when I think about most of the negotiations that I’ve been involved with over the years, like as a buyer Because we, you know, even though we’re in a sales business, I have to buy a lot of stuff. You know, we work with contractors, we have to, we buy parts, we buy supplies, we have all sorts of services we need cleaning services and roof maintenance and HVAC Equipment that we have to maintain and shop equipment, anyway. We buy a lot. And what I’ve learned about negotiation that has worked very well for me is just to make sure you’re talking to, you know, a handful of options because you, it makes it very difficult to get what you need if you’re if you’re limited to working with one company. So we like to start, uh, whenever we need something, we like to start with a few companies and, and we prefer those with good reputations obviously because we don’t want to get into business with people that generally we avoid companies that say that they’re the lowest price as a, for instance, because, you know, we’ve had, we’ve had bad experiences with those companies for a lot of reasons, anyway.
I think there’s some, yeah, that’s probably enough set on that. I don’t want to do spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read the book. But the last sort of conclusion of it, um, it mentions essentially reminds me, what’s it in business for the long term. Is that, um, is that what you call it? Oh, you’re talking about loving the models. Even in the in the end the end conclusion. Yeah. Right. Yeah. So, so let’s talk about that. It’s not because they’re because I think your listeners are gonna want to read the book for the hiring session, hiring section alone. So we’ll go ahead and spoil the conclusion. My dad, who I told you before was a teacher. He has this wonderful phrase and he says that institutions should have love in the model. And I heard him say that once and I asked, well, what do you mean by that? You know, what does it mean for a business or a school or any other organisation of people to have love in the model?
And he said, what it means is that the people making the decisions for that institution are doing it with compassion and empathy for people and thinking about the consequences of their decisions on the rest of the world. And I think in the context of business, it’s really important whether you’re no matter what you’re selling or what industry you’re in to be really clear about why you’re doing it in the first place, if your business, if the if it’s solely exists to pad your own pockets? Oh my gosh, I mean like so much, so much evil has occurred in the world when people take care of their own needs and ignore the consequences on other people. And so I like to think that we’ve built love into the model of the planet organisation and, and I encourage other companies, the leaders of other companies, the owners, the managers to think about how they can build love into the model of their, their organisations that did stand out for me because one of the things which you mention is most of the time you’re not thinking about that and there are essentially more important things that you are, what you should be focusing on essentially.
Do you know what I mean by that part of the tell no, tell me more. Something along the lines of you, you’re, you’re better off now than you were. Um, but it really hasn’t changed your life that much. So yeah, I mean that’s sort of, you know, a related idea. I guess the reason, yeah, we grew up, we didn’t have a lot growing up and I think what that did for me is that it probably kindled this passion that I just didn’t want to spend the rest of my life, you know, feeling the scarcity that I had felt as a young person and so I ended up, you know, I’m 49 now and, And I ended up devoting, you know, more or less the last 25 years of my life, the prime of my life to building wealth. So I wouldn’t have to feel like that. And then, and then the wealth arrives and I’m so blessed that it did.
I mean, I’m so thankful, so grateful. It’s been, you know, it’s opened up all sorts of doors for me to be able to do good things for other people. So I’m very happy that it worked out. But oh, if I had gotten to this point and not thought about other people, it wouldn’t be worse. And what I mean by that is that I, you see this house, I’m so, it’s a beautiful house. I am. I love this house. I’m no happier in this house than I ever was in any other house that I lived in in my life after a while. Your house becomes your house. And that’s the sound, not happy here. I love, I love being here, but I think you have to be careful about what you’re willing to trade and, and so their decisions that my brother and I could have made along the way that would have made us even wealthier and looking back.
I’m so happy that I didn’t do that because there were costs to those things. Maybe there were costs two, there would have been harms to other people or there would have been harms to us. You know, having to subject ourselves to unreasonable, even more unreasonable amounts of stress and fear about the business conditions all those things. Well, I feel like it’s a good point to raise because I feel like it’s a theme for a lot of people when they kind of get what they’re looking for, that they feel very much like they did before. have you got anything else that you’d like to add as a close? Yeah, you’ve asked very, very thorough questions that I appreciate. I’m trying to think. I think there’s one, there’s one thing I’d like to leave your listeners with And I talk about in the book, the most important thing that the leader does for an organisation the most. So I’m not, I’m not qualifying this all. This is number one and it’s a term that Herman, a former Herman miller CEO Max De Pree, said that a leader of a company needs to define reality for the organisation, for the people working in that company.
And what he meant is that the leader had to say had to define who are the kind of people we’re going to have doing this work. What kind of work are we going to do? How are we going to do it? What are the values that we’re going to have while we do it? Those questions need to be resolved very early in the life of a company and I think the earlier you do that, the rest of the things you do will fall into place once you understand the kind of person you are and the kind of company you want to run, the easier it will be for you to hire people because you’re gonna know exactly who you’re looking for. And it’s going to make it a lot easier to establish the policies you have in terms of customer service, in terms of the benefits you give to your team members, in terms of the business practices that you’re going to do and the ones that you refuse to do, even though they might be common in your industry. And I think that if you start there, it at the big picture level that any effort you invest in getting that figured out is going to serve you very well for the rest of your rest of your career in your life.
And a lot of those questions that kind of help you starting out, those are in the book, aren’t they? Yes, I I actually they’re in the book and I refer, they can also find a dedicated worksheet that will help people interested in that process, work through that at the at my website, jeffmorrill.com. M-O-R-R-I-L-L where all these tools that I described earlier are there’s even a few free if you can’t, like I said before, if you can’t afford the book and I get it. There was a time when I couldn’t afford to buy all the books I wanted to read. they’re three free chapters at the website to on starting a business that the ball washer couldn’t fit in the book. So if you invite I invite your listeners to at least take a look there well other than the website, where’s the best place for people to find you? That’s the best place. And if because I don’t maybe I’m just old enough that I don’t I’m not on the socials, I mean I am but I just don’t spend a lot of time.
I’ve got way too much going on and it just seems, you know, I want I want the book to do really well and I want people to buy and enjoy it and get a lot out of it. And but I just I just can’t do the social so they can reach me at the website from a wellbeing perspective. It’s very possible that you’re better off as a result of that decision. So yeah, yeah, I read the research on that and sure looks like it. Well, thank you very much for coming on and being a great guest. Well, thank you. Your questions are very thoughtful and I think that’s the key to making your podcast so appealing. Thank you. My pleasure and I will speak to you too.