This is the second article in a series, “Building a Million Dollar Business,” where we conduct exclusive interviews with industry leaders to learn more about how they’ve transformed their cleaning and restoration companies into successful, million dollar businesses. This article features Jon Fields, owner of Restore Pro based out of Sandusky, Ohio.
Before making a mark in the restoration industry, Jon Fields had a successful, high-paying career as a materials manager. While he enjoyed the work and the various business skills he was able to develop, he wasn’t satisfied with his career in corporate life.
“I felt like I was working hard to build wealth for someone else, or some entity. Sometimes we have to have something that makes us get out of our comfort zone,” Fields said. “So I walked away from a really good job in materials management that was paying well, but I felt threatened in terms of security and career.”
Fields quitting his job forced him to step out of his comfort zone; thus, paving the way for Restore Pro to be established in 1998. What started out as solely a carpet cleaning business has grown into a full-blown restoration company reaching a high point of 2.5 million in revenue. There are many factors that contributed to his company’s success, but the main one he accredits are the mentors he’s had over the years.
Being new to the cleaning and restoration industry, Fields knew he had to find mentors to help him along the way. He quickly got in touch with Chuck Violand of Violand Management Associates. Since 1999, he has taken in their expertise and used it to improve the business side of his cleaning and restoration business.
“I wanted to know that if I didn’t have the success that I wanted, that at least I was pushing the right buttons,” Fields said. “Surround yourself with good people and plug into a good mentorship and education in this industry.”
Fields knew early on that being an expert in everything was not possible. There are many aspects to running a successful million dollar business, and finding excuses to not utilize available mentors can make the journey harder.
“If you don’t know something, the help is there. Knowing and acknowledging that you don’t know something is the first step to getting better,” Fields said. “That and tapping into peers – not just peers in business, but peers who really know.”
A true leader, Fields knows that as he continues investing in mentorship, it will help him grow the business the way he wants it too.
“You can either let the dog wag its tail or the tail wag the dog,” Fields said. “The business will wag you unless you learn to set goals and learn what you want to get out of the business on a personal level.”
Since starting his company almost 20 years ago, Fields has assembled a team of loyal, tenured employees – something he largely attributes for the success of his business. He puts a lot of trust in his team by creating an environment where team members can actively participate in not only decisions concerning the company’s growth, but their personal growth as well.
“We give access to financial advisors to our people so they can plan out their futures, 401k or a simple IRA,” Fields said. “Things that will help them secure their family.”
In addition to providing his team with valuable resources, he also has a clear vision of the company’s mission and goals.
“Your vision can’t be something that’s on a piece of paper at your desk. It has to be something you get buy-in from your team,” Fields said. “As your team comes in and they develop and grow, let them participate, go back and revisit. Because you put a mission and vision together doesn’t mean it’s static. It should be a living document.”
Fields also believes in placing credit where it’s deserved and showing full appreciation for his team who work tirelessly to restore people’s homes and businesses after a disaster.
We need to acknowledge the people out there on the front lines, answering the phones in the middle of the night, crawling around in the crawlspaces and attics, dealing with sewage and health risks,” Fields said, “Everybody races. We’re all so busy chasing that next order. Sometimes it’s important to pause, take a step back, and make sure our people are being taken care of.”
Providing mentorship for employees is just as important as finding mentorship for your business. Fields ensures his employees are given opportunities to grow within the company.
“How do we develop our people? Do we invest in their education or is it static? These are things we can identify through employee reviews and honest conversations with people,” Fields said. “We can be good mentors to our employees as well and when they know you genuinely care about them, that makes a difference in their tenure and their loyalty back to you and your company. “
Growing and managing a million dollar business is no easy task. While it might look easy on the outside, Fields can attest to the various struggles that happen behind the scenes.
“Adversity will find you. It’s not whether you have adversity, but how you deal with that adversity,” Fields said. “Success happens when someone overcomes those failures and challenges.”
Fields said Restore Pro faces challenges that are common in the industry, including issues related to employment and finding qualified candidates to fill various roles within the company.
“It’s a nationwide deal. We’re not immune to that, and I feel like that’s the number one threat to my business today,” Fields said. “I would say many restorers are dealing with the same issues.”
Reaching out to business peers can be a great way to evaluate your own company and make adjustments as needed.
“When you’re really facing a fire, don’t be afraid to ask your peers who appear successful, ‘hey, did this happen to your company and how did you guys approach this?’” Fields said. “It isn’t always fun, and it can be painful. But push ahead and plug into encouragement and be positive,” Fields said. “When you’re positive as a leader, you will have good results in your company.”