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The Turnaround

May 21, 2021 |  

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About this episode

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Mike Agugliaro is an electrician by trade and over 12 years built Gold Medal Service to around $700,000 in revenue with his partner Rob Zadotti.

The days were long, which was one reason Zadotti decided to quit.

Agugliaro took a few days to consider how things had gotten so bad. He realized they had been making a lot of mistakes and knew they could do better.  Agugliaro convinced his partner that if he would stay, they could build a better company together.

Zadotti agreed, and that kicked off a journey that would see Agugliaro and Zadotti build Gold Medal Service into a $32 million company with double-digit profit margins.

In 2017, Agugliaro and Zadotti sold Gold Medal Service for a significant premium over the 5 x EBITDA multiple typical of the home services industry.

In this episode, you’ll discover how to:

  • Ramp up your marketing.
  • Inspire your front-line staff to create customers who are raving fans.
  • Learn from the best in your industry.
  • Improve your cash flow with one simple philosophy.
  • Brand your company so that nobody will miss you.
  • Tell your employees you have sold your company.

Show Notes & Links

(05:53) Mike Agugliaro: “I started out in Taekwondo, but then I started training in an amazing instructor, Chris Rossman. It was an underground dojo, and I did Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu, Shōrin-ryū Karate, all the Okinawa weapons, and I did Tenshin-ryu Kenjutsu.”

(12:49) John Warrillow: “Brian Scudamore’s stuff, 1-800-GOT-JUNK guy?

(14:07) Mike Agugliaro: “I actually worked with Cameron Herold, who is a brilliant, brilliant guy.”

(14:36) Mike Agugliaro: “I started finding out that there’s so many brilliant people, and my goal was: learn from them and then find a way eventually that I can serve them in return like Jay Abraham, one of the highest paid consultants on Earth.”

(14:50) Mike Agugliaro: “Joe Polish, a good friend of mine, Dean Jackson, a great friend of mine, Dan Kennedy, a friend of mine, I started to learn and invest in these people.”

(17:15) Mike Agugliaro: “Dean Jackson, brilliant marketer, he says, “Marketing is everything and everything is marketing.” Well, Brian Kurtz, who’s a brilliant marketer, he says, “Marketing is the only thing.” You know what? I embraced, got addicted to understanding marketing.”

(18:53) Mike Agugliaro: “Once I started learning that as long as you can track and measure the vehicle, like Yellow Page ads back then, if you were brave enough to do a double truck ad in a Yellow Page, that thing was a cash machine.”

(25:26) Mike Agugliaro: “people talk about all these amazing cultures in Zappos and stuff.”

(27:42) Mike Agugliaro: “I’ll tell you one of the books that I used, not only did I read it, I gave it to every single employee. It was Raving Fans, right?”

(28:18) Mike Agugliaro: “Not only did my addiction to reading and consuming books happen, later, now I’ve written 17 books myself.”

(29:03) Mike Agugliaro: “I’m reading this Tribal thing and this Blue Ocean thing, and this Think and Grow Rich thing, and all these things,”

(34:00) Mike Agugliaro: “Here’s what I learned. Don’t go to bed until you make enough money to handle your obligations.”

(41:16) Mike Agugliaro: “he started with me as a plumber, Joe Todaro, a plumber, and he said to me when he joined the company, “Someday I want to be in your shoes,” and said, “Absolutely. We’ll do that.” When I sold, he was one of the number one people there.”

(46:29) Mike Agugliaro: “my service company was growing big, but the profit was really tiny. It’s tiny, sometimes 2%. It was low. Jay Abraham, if anybody knows Jay Abraham, I was meeting with him a little before that time, and he said, “Oh, you got a company.” I’m like, whatever, I was at 28 million. I feel like I’m king. Profits were little. He looked at me and he said, “Profit?” He goes, “That’s horrible.” I felt like my grandfather was talking to me pointing his finger.”

(53:56) Mike Agugliaro: “I was listening to an interview with Kevin O’Leary today. He says he works harder today than he did 20 years ago. Me, too. Me, too, because you know what? Now, when you change the legacy, it becomes the next thing.”

(1:04:07) Mike Agugliaro: “When I was 20 years old. I was teaching martial arts to the DARE program.

(1:04:46) Mike Agugliaro: “The broker doesn’t know that. The broker doesn’t tell you. The broker knows everything to do to sell the business. I wish somebody told me, “Hey, what’s the identity of your children? How will you break it to your family? What will tell your best friends? What’s next for you?” Nobody shares that piece.”

About Our Guest

Mike Agugliaro started his own electrical company in 1994. The first years were challenging, but little did he know what it would turn into. He kept pushing, he kept proving the world wrong, and he kept leveling up his mindset until success clicked. In just 10 short years, his once-struggling electrical company grew into a $32 million/year home services empire that was acquired by a private equity firm in 2017.

Today, Mike is working at a whole new level on his latest calling through another company – FuDog Group. Through FuDog, he’s transforming humanity and helping people create lives of their dreams, more wealth than they could have imagined, greater health, and deeper relationships. Yet again, he is proving the world wrong by showing people that business success is only part of the story. Still, mindset shifts, personal success, transformation, and mastery are the often overlooked part of the equation. FuDog Group is on a mission to impact 1,000,000 people in 100 countries in 10 years or less, and they’ve already impacted hundreds of people in more than a dozen countries.

Connect with Mike:
FuDog Group – Facebook Page
FuDog Group – Facebook Group

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Transcript

John Warrillow:

Hey, it’s John Warrillow. I wanted to record this quick message to let you know that I’ve got a new book that’s now available called The Art of Selling Your Business. Really, it’s a distillation of some of the best practices I’ve heard from some of the smartest entrepreneurs I’ve interviewed for this show. Having done now more than 300 plus interviews for Built to Sell Radio, I’ve seen that there’s this small group of founders who seem to really have incredible exits, ones where they make life-changing money from the sale of their company.

What I’ve tried to do is really analyze what are the transferrable lessons among that small cadre of winning exits. I’ve put those into an action plan, a bit of a just add water recipe card for punching above your weight when it comes to selling your business. The book is called The Art of Selling Your Business. It’s available anywhere you buy books.

You’re in for a special treat today because today on the show we’ve got Mike Agugliaro, who built Gold Medal Service to $32 million of annual revenue before he sold it. What I find interesting in this story is there is very much a before and after journey. There’s the first 10 or so years of Mike’s journey, which was really modestly successful. He came to a point, and he’ll describe it in the episode, where he reached a crisis and he made some pretty big changes, and I want you to listen for the changes he made to drive the value of his company. They were invested in marketing, in sales, and in leadership. Here to tell you how he did it is Mike Agugliaro.

Mike Agugliaro, welcome to Built to Sell Radio.

Mike Agugliaro:

Hey, John. Glad to be here.

John Warrillow:

Yeah. Tell me about Gold Medal Service. What is this company in the business of?

Mike Agugliaro:

Yeah. Gold Medal Service is in the business of if you think of anything, almost anything mechanical that breaks in your home, plumbing, heating, cooling, electric, drain issue, even if you’re dealing with your basement waterproofing or want to replace your bathroom, that’s what we became the best in the world at doing in the state of New Jersey.

John Warrillow:

Wow. That’s so cool. How did you get into it?

Mike Agugliaro:

I went to vocational school because there’s always two tracks. It’s like you’re built for college, you’re not. I went into not built for college bracket, and I went to vocational school to learn the electrical trade. I graduated. I went into electrical because I thought, “Well, that’s scary. That stuff could kill you.” I’ve been on my own since I’m 15 years old, and anything dangerous sounded exciting to me. Before you know it, I was an electrician out there.

John Warrillow:

Were you really on your own since you were 15?

Mike Agugliaro:

Yeah, long time, yup.

John Warrillow:

What’s the backstory there?

Mike Agugliaro:

Well, I always say I’m a survivor of a really bad divorce. My dad and mom couldn’t quite figure it out, and then before you know it, I ended up living with my … My brother was 17 and it was me and him in an apartment, and that was my dad’s solution, and we figured out how to pay some of the bills. It got real, real quick on one of two journeys in school. You’re either going to be successful or just follow the path and give up, and I made a commitment when I was 15 that I would prove the world wrong on some things.

John Warrillow:

How has that affected your life now as an adult?

Mike Agugliaro:

It motivated me. Martial arts, a lot of people ask me, John. They say, “If there’s one thing that you would give to your success in the long run,” I’ll give it to martial arts. That’s really what it did. It made me tough early on. It made me relentlessly driven, and I don’t understand failure. I don’t understand stopping. It’s all about through the martial arts of learning how to really control myself. Who you see today is not who I was when I was 15 years old. I believe it gave me what people would say maybe that grit and that grind and the ability to outwork and outthink everybody.

John Warrillow:

What martial arts was your discipline?

Mike Agugliaro:

I started out in Taekwondo, but then I started training in an amazing instructor, Chris Rossman. It was an underground dojo, and I did Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu, Shōrin-ryū Karate, all the Okinawa weapons, and I did Tenshin-ryu Kenjutsu which was live sword, and he put it all into one system. So, I always tell people, John, we became really good … If we had to defend ourself, your arm would probably break, you might get cut by a weapon, and if we have to go to the ground, you’re probably going to get choked out. So, it was a very combative-

John Warrillow:

You’re not the dude, you’re not the dude I want to meet on a dark alley in the middle of the night.

Mike Agugliaro:

I’m a real nice guy. I will protect anybody in the dark alley that needs it.

John Warrillow:

So, you go to vocational school to become an electrician, and you start a company. Tell me more how … You have a partner, and his name is Rob. How did you hook me up with Rob and just start from there.

Mike Agugliaro:

Yeah. First, I came out of vocational school and started working for some companies, and it became apparent really quick that a lot of these companies, they just didn’t know what they were doing. Then I figured, “If this guy can run an electrical company, I’m pretty sure I can.”

I was working a business long time ago with a brother of mine and it didn’t work out, and someone who I was working on the job with, Rob Zadotti said, “You should go and do your own business.”

I was like, “You know what? I don’t want to do that by myself.” I said, “I’ll tell you what, you quit your …” He had a really good job. I think it was at Squid that time. Maybe it was 50,000 a year. You’re going back in 1994. This was a fortune, right?

I said, “I’ll tell you what, you quit and we’ll do it together. I know exactly what we’ll do.”

He said, “Yes,” and then that made us dig in and start our own business. It’s funny people say, “Well, how did you come up with the name Gold Medal Service?” Well, every other name was taken that we wanted. We wanted A to Z and all these things, and the accountant said to us, “Well, Gold Medal,” it was Gold Medal Electric at the time, he said, “This is available,” and we said, “All right. We’ll take it.” We didn’t care. We just needed a name to start working.

Probably a lot of entrepreneurs that listen to your show, which by the way is great, you start doing your trade and you think you know what to do, but it becomes clear over time you don’t know what to do.

John Warrillow:

When was it that it became clear, crystal clear that you were over your head?

Mike Agugliaro:

Yeah. So, I’m training martial arts, I am strong, I’m running, I’m selling, I’m gunning. You know when it became really tough? About 10 to 12 years of owning the company, my partner Rob came to me and he said, one morning he came in, early in the morning. Now, you got to remember, we worked on construction sites, and he came in early one morning and he says, “Hey, I’m out.”

I thought he had the case of the craps because we used to eat stuff off lunch trucks. You know what I mean? Burger King. You eat to survive. I said, “Oh, okay. You’re not feeling good. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

He says, “No. I’m done, man.” He goes, “I’m burnt out. I can’t do this no more.”

We were going seven days a week, I mean. So, that was the first opportunity that I was like, “Okay. We got a problem here. We’re partners.” I said, “Dude, if you’re out, I’m out. Let’s not do it.”

John Warrillow:

Give me the numbers. What were the numbers at this point, top line, bottom line? Give me a sense of where you’re at.

Mike Agugliaro:

You know what? We’re pushing at that time maybe $750,000 to $900,000. We never broke the million, never broke the million mark. Now, in the meantime, I’m sure like a lot of your stories maybe you heard, John, is that I’m getting ready to have a kid, my wife’s in the hospital, I’m running from a job, from my first son, and this all happened. It seems like time blurred, but it seems like it all happened together. I remember when my son was born, going home, and you guys probably know. I built one of these rocking, these gliders for my wife to sit in so she can … I’ve been with my beautiful goddess of a wife since we’re 15 years old. So, 35 years, my beautiful wife Jennifer, and I’m sitting in that glider chair at night, she’s in the hospital, I got to go back and get her, and I break down.

This is the pivot point. I break down crying and I say, “I became like my dad,” very hard worker, extremely hard worker who will never be home to see his family, right? That’s when I knew everything was over my head. I knew things had to change. My partner is quitting, I’m having a baby, I’m not going to be at home, and that’s the turning point where I said, “You know what?”

A couple of days later, me and my partner said, we got together, had a conversation, and I said, “We can do this. I have a plan. Let me share my plan with you.” You want to hear about the plan?

John Warrillow:

Yeah.

Mike Agugliaro:

So, I say to him, I started just reading books and all this stuff and I say, “Here’s my big thing I figured out, Rob. We don’t know what we’re doing.”

He said, “No…” I don’t know if I can curse here… “No crap. No crap we don’t know. That’s why I want to get out of here. I’m burnt out. My knees are bad.”

He’s a couple years older than me. I said, “I got it. We have to find people who know how to do this.”

So, we went out on a quest, and before you know it, we found some different coaches, and organizations, and we went and visited. John, we went and visited one shop. This guy is doing amazing in electrical only. I don’t know. Maybe he’s doing 10 million or something. The place was beautiful, and everybody was in uniforms, but I didn’t think they were good electricians, right? Me and Rob, good electricians, bad business owners.

On the way back, it was a place up in Pennsylvania. The way back was about an hour or 45-minute drive. I said, “Rob, if they did that. Imagine what we can do.”

That turning point like that took us from under a million dollar company, 700-850, 10 years later, John, $32 million, double-digit profit, 165 trucks all over the state of New Jersey, 200 employees. They were not employees, they were warriors. They were Spartans. I was loyal to them. They were loyal to me, and we were dominating the state of New Jersey in a 10-year period of making that decision, being good students, and apply the things we learned relentlessly.

John Warrillow:

I want to dig in to a couple of things there, for sure, but first, I need to understand how you got the meeting with the company in Pennsylvania. Have you ever seen Brian Scudamore’s stuff, 1-800-GOT-JUNK guy?

Mike Agugliaro:

Yeah.

John Warrillow:

Yeah. So, Scudamore, he is a relentless learner, and has a curious mind, and there’s a story. I don’t know if it’s true. I’ve never validated it, but he went to FedEx when he wanted to learn logistics. He went and got an interview or meeting with someone like junior manager at FedEx to try to figure out how does FedEx deal with logistics. That’s the degree to which he’s curious, even though he’s the CEO of the company. How did you get the meeting with the company in Pennsylvania? Because in an effort, they were actually a competitor of yours.

Mike Agugliaro:

Yeah, yeah. Well, they were outside the state, and nobody was threatened by this young tattooed guy. No one’s threatened by me, and I was going to join an organization, and they said, “Well, why don’t you go visit this company and see what they did?” It was one of their prized pupils, right? They sent it out and said, “Go see them.” Back then, I was willing to go anywhere.

It’s funny you mentioned 1-800-GOT-JUNK because through my journey early on, once I got a taste of solving – if you get the right person with the right knowledge, they will move you faster than trying to figure it out your own. I actually worked with Cameron Herold, who is a, brilliant, brilliant guy, and I worked with him when I couldn’t afford to work with him, one of those deals like you take your credit card out, you pay, and you’re like, “Okay. This better work out,” because he was high profile. He helped at one 1-800-GOT-JUNK. He’s a really brilliant author as I’m sure you know.

Before you know it, John, on top of that, once we visited this company, I started finding out that there’s so many brilliant people, and my goal was learn from them and then find a way eventually that I can serve them in return like Jay Abraham, one of the highest paid consultants on Earth. I worked with him for three and a half years.

John Warrillow:

Great marketer.

Mike Agugliaro:

Joe Polish, a good friend of mine, Dean Jackson, a great friend of mine, Dan Kennedy, a friend of mine, I started to learn and invest in these people, and implement. Before you know it, they’re going, “Look at this tattooed guy’s building this mega company,” and then I would serve them anyway I could, and then we would become friends.

There’s a big lesson there, for whoever’s listening to the show here, is one, you got to realize, and I do believe what some of the experts say, “Success leaves clues.” No, no. Success leaves a blueprint. There’s a blueprint there. Now, it might have to be modified for who you are, and your lifestyle, and how you interact, and behave, and your goals, and targets, but there’s a blueprint for everybody. You just got to be willing to follow the blueprint.

John Warrillow:

So, again, Joe Polish, and we’ll put all these notes in the show notes at BuiltToSell.com, Joe Polish is a great marketer. Cameron Herold was the chief operating officer of 1-800-GOT-JUNK, if you need to check him out. Dan Kennedy, incredible marketer, the direct response, all you pioneers. So, these are all great, great, great folks to connect in to.

One of the things that people are asking, though, is, “Okay. Hold on a second, Mike. You’re struggling at a $700,000 a year company. How did you afford all these people?”

Mike Agugliaro:

I’m going to share that. Yeah. Let me share that, John. First off, I can’t believe American Express let me do that. I don’t even get it. We went and when we decided to grow … Today, you could get software. It’s a couple of hundred dollars a month. We bought a software because we were like, “That big company got $30,000.” You had to pay it upfront. Then I went into Yellow Page ads and I said, “From $500 a month is what we used to spend.” We went to 50,000 a month within a year, had no idea.

I’m going to give you one more point, and I’m going to put the big lesson here. So, one, we’re putting in our credit cards, and then there’s this pressure. There’s this leverage on you that in the back of my mind is going, “Are you going to let your newborn son down? Are you going to let your partner down? We made a commitment that we’re going to do this.” So, that’s the first thing.

The second thing, it became clear to me. Studying these marketers, and it’s interesting because Dean Jackson, brilliant marketer, he says, “Marketing is everything and everything is marketing.” Well, Brian Kurtz, who’s a brilliant marketer, he says, “Marketing is the only thing.” You know what? I embraced, got addicted to understanding marketing, and marketing is a cash machine when you understand it, you do it right, you do it with integrity, and I found out, John, I could put one message out, the right message and the right vehicle, and better buyers were coming to me, better clients were coming to me. They were purchasing quicker, and before you know it, money is pouring in fast.

This doesn’t take years to figure it out. The right marketing message and the right vehicle could take an hour and you just made a huge impact. So, I pride myself on being a world class marketer.

John Warrillow:

What was the biggest change from the way you used to market the company at $700,000 in revenue that you changed to scale it to 32 million. I’d be curious just, tactically, what did you say in the old days and then what did you say in the next generation?

Mike Agugliaro:

Well, in the old days, we didn’t understand it. I couldn’t even afford to put a classified ad back in the newspaper. That’s how we used to market back then and I couldn’t even afford it. So, back then, it was like a business card which didn’t look good. The name had no specific branding. It wasn’t like a powerful brand or powerful message. We would stick it. Maybe if we went in a bagel store, we would stick it on the cork board. We would tell some people. I mean, it’s about as archaic as it could be.

Once I started learning that as long as you can track and measure the vehicle, like Yellow Page ads back then, if you were brave enough to do a double truck ad in a Yellow Page, that thing was a cash machine. That’s where-

John Warrillow:

Sorry. What’s a double truck ad?

Mike Agugliaro:

A double truck, so if you go and open up a Yellow Page, and there’s an advertisement on both sides for your company, a double spread there, that means you’re in the very front of everyone else. Someone opens goes, “You’re the biggest company. I should call you. There’s only so many there.”

When we did our first one, and back then, our avatar, the 50 to 65-year-old was a perfect client for us, guess where they went? The Yellow Pages. So, that’s what started to change was we went from not understanding marketing, a business card to, “Okay. Where are the buyers and where do they go when they have a problem?” Before you know it, I said, “Okay. Maybe this newspaper thing is something to do. Maybe we should put an ad in it,” and then we did, “and then maybe we should understand radio.”

Now, there’s so many different vehicles. You got to be a little more strategic, but back then, if you threw money at something, and most of the world was afraid, most business owners were afraid to invest money, you had a cash cow opportunity there.

John Warrillow:

I want to get to the cashflow of all this in a moment because a double-page spread in the Yellow Pages 20 years ago was a lot of money. Let’s come back to that. What I hear you say is two things. Number one – most owners, and you would in your own admission put yourself in this camp in the early days, under invest in marketing. So, one of your key messages is you’ve got to invest. Two, it sounds like a medium message is there. Understanding the mediums where you’re going to intercept your user, you can track their responsiveness, so there’s a lesson there around the medium, how you think about it.

I’m also interested, though, in the message, and how that evolved from the early days, what did you say on the side of the truck? When somebody called, what was your message? Then I want to hear how that evolved. I’m assuming it evolved. Maybe it didn’t in the new world.

Mike Agugliaro:

Yeah, yeah. It did. Look, in the beginning, it was like, “Do you need an electrician? Call us.” Then later, it became, “Are you dealing with this type of problem?” That’s a pretty big distinction there right there of, “Do you need an electrician?” versus “Are you dealing with power outages? Are you dealing with surges in the electrical?” Later, we did all these different trades that we morphed into.

The second thing, it went from, “Hello. Mike’s speaking. Why are you bothering me? I’m pulling a wire through an attic?” to “It’s a better than great day at Gold Medal Service. How can I help you?” So, all of a sudden, there’s no customer service to, well, what do people want on the other side when they’re calling a service company or any company.

Once I started to figure that out, putting the marketing along with better messaging and better delivery of the service. Now, as for the technical side of things, most people listening, if you have a technical skill, I’m sure you’re a good plumber or HVAC electrician, I’m sure you are, but are you a good customer service representative of your brand?

John Warrillow:

Did you really answer the phone, “It’s a better than great day”?

Mike Agugliaro:

Yes, I did. Some people, John, used to go like this, “It’s a crappy day. I got no lights in here,” and I’d say, “Well, good news for you. It’s going to be a better than great day when we’re done.” It worked out brilliant for us. You could tell that I clearly answered the phone back then because I could run it. Later, I did, “It was a better than great day at Gold Medal Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, and Electric. How may I help you?” So, then I was seeding the additional services in there to let them know, “You just called for electric. Wait, I’m also dealing with a plumbing drip or a hot or cold spot in my house.”

John Warrillow:

How did you get frontline people? As you grew, you’re not answering the phone of a $32 million a year company. I’m assuming you had staff doing that at some point. How did you get your staff to do that authentically? I’ve heard people. When you show up at McDonald’s drive-thru and they’re like, “Hey, can I help you?” They know they’ve been trained to say, “Hi. Can I help you today?” but you know that the voice is like they’d rather do anything other than be at the drive-thru of McDonald’s. How did you get your frontline people to be as inspired as you are?

Mike Agugliaro:

Yeah. In my world, and I took a lot of it from the martial arts I learned. So, I’ve been a natural teacher for forever, right? This year, in a couple of weeks, I’ll be level 51, which is a stronger way to say 51 of age, right? What I started to notice was, in my culture, was everybody wanted to join a movement. They wanted to join something bigger than what they’ve ever experienced before. My goal was when I brought people into the organization, I wasn’t bringing them in for motivation. I was bringing them in for transformation.

Most people, they come in and be a good person on the phone, be happy. I wanted to help them build the skill that they could live their life through that. I spent a lot of time myself in front of if it was when I had five people all the way up to when I had 200 impacting their lives, showing them what it meant to live with energy or power or strength or focus and how their behaviors had a direct correlation to their future success of their family.

So, there was always reminders through the building of this, and I would constantly be checking in on them. So, I always say I didn’t have to beg my people to be good. They wanted to be good for two reasons. One, they never wanted to let me down. Two, I never wanted to let them down. If they weren’t delivering at that level, I felt I was letting them down, and I know people talk about all these amazing cultures in Zappos and stuff. I would just tell you, we had a Spartan-level, transformational culture there. Everybody had each other’s back, and we were only as successful as the least successful team member, and that’s how I lived every single day in my company.

John Warrillow:

Did it ever get tiring? Were there ever a day where you’re just like, “God, I got to be a normal dude as opposed to this energy …” Did it ever just tiring?

Mike Agugliaro:

For me, it got frustrating, never tiring because everything became a challenge for me. Now, look, we have 200 trucks on the road. One time, we crashed into the same bridge in a couple of years nine times. It almost was going to become cheaper for me to take the bridge down than keep repairing the trucks. I mean, it was just incredible.

So, I would say it got frustrating, but I’ve been taught by so many mentors that in a state of frustration, it’s hard to win and hard to grow, in a state of energy. So, how you see me now, if you bump into me at Whole Foods, you’re going to see the same person. You’re not going to see a different person than what you hear. I didn’t ramp myself up for everybody and drink a Red Bull or something for you guys, and if you do that, that’s fine. So, it’s self-producing for me, and I just found out that to live in this type of state is how you win, and you know what? It helps everybody else raise up that’s around you.

John Warrillow:

Yeah. Well said, indeed. So, you’re at 700 grand in revenue, and you had the meeting with Rob and said, “We can do this,” and you started investing heavily on the Amex card. I think people would also be curious. Again, regardless of how much room they have on their Amex card, many people won’t have the appetite to bring in a senior level coach or spend thousands of dollars in marketing. What book did you read? You mentioned over the weekend there was a book or two that you consumed. What book did you read in that two or three days between?

Mike Agugliaro:

I’ll tell you one of the books that I used, not only did I read it, I gave it to every single employee. It was Raving Fans, right?

John Warrillow:

Great book.

Mike Agugliaro:

Ken Blanchard. I mean, it was a book that I believe if you didn’t understand the concept of Raving Fans, then it’s hard to deliver at a level that clients or customers will tell other people about, but it’s another area. I’ll tell you my big lesson, and I hope it serves everybody.

One, I became a junkie of books. I started reading everything Dan Kennedy. I read Cameron Herold’s book. Not only did my addiction to reading and consuming books happen, later, now I’ve written 17 books myself. Here’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned, John. I was reading books because people were telling me to read books. I was working with Cameron Herold one time, and he’s the first one that triggered me into this concept and I said, “What should I read?” The hungry student, “Give me five books.”

He said, “Well, what’s the problem we’re dealing with now?”

I said, “We’re dealing with culture. We got to figure out culture.”

He goes, “Okay. Then just read a book on culture. Get that book.”

I looked all over Facebook and I see people go, “I’m reading this Tribal thing and this Blue Ocean thing, and this Think and Grow Rich thing, and all these things,” and I go, “Hey, what are you trying to solve?”

They go, “My culture is bad. Don’t read anything else. Find a book, a course, the best human in the world on culture. Study from them. When you solve that, boom. You’ll move, then just ask yourself a simple question, ‘What’s my next biggest challenge?’ and consume everything to solve that next challenge.”

John Warrillow:

Really interesting. So, be much more tactical. If you want to learn search engine optimization, then find the guru in that space. Don’t write a general business book. That’s great tip, for sure.

So, again, on this journey from 700 grand to 32 million, marketing was a huge component. It sounds like culture and customer experience was a massive piece. Was there one strategic move, a lead domino, as Tim Ferriss likes to say, was there one strategic decision that you made early that as you look back strategically that was a game-changer for you?

Mike Agugliaro:

Yeah. I’ll give that to you. We might get to this, maybe not, just so everybody listening knows. There’s three key things that I learned, and I’ll throw it out, and then I’m going to give you the tactical thing that led me. Marketing was number one, sales was number two, and leadership was number three.

The tactical thing, we’re going to build this new brand, and we’re going to go from Gold Medal Electric to Gold Medal Service, and our whole philosophy was not because that we wanted to, it’s because I started to notice we had to. We had to be the one what I call a source of one. We needed to be the solution, John, that if someone needed plumbing, HVAC, electrical, whatever, to call us first, now you might be saying, and then I’ll get to the very tactical part of this, why we got to the piece I’m going to share with everyone.

See, Target, Walmart, all these companies, Walgreens, they started to deliver so many more things because they figured it out, “If we get a customer in the door, we better keep them, and we better have what they need.” So, this multiple trade opportunity, multiple service started to break what people were teaching me back then. They said, “Rich is in niches.”

I said, “Okay. That’s good, but that’s not the philosophy of Target, Walmart, and everyone else. I’m going to go in that new era.” So, what did I do with that? This made the biggest difference.

I said, “Okay. We’ll build this new brand.”

The whole thing about a brand is to evaluate the market, not plumbers and electrician, and since we own service trucks, and we’re going to drive all over the state of New Jersey, what does the world look like from the sky? Is it a UPS truck? What’s the color? What’s the shape?

I was having a conversation with my wife and she said something to me. She goes, “Yellow is the first color the eye sees.”

“Hmm,” I said, “that’s interesting.”

A random note, yellow is also the first color that if you stare at it too long will drive you insane. So, there’s a catch-22 there. So, we’ve developed this truck, John, and it was yellow and black. Later, I said, “Well, you know what? If the universe or God whatever you believe in made a bumblebee yellow and black so you could see that sucker coming, it’s got to be a great color combination.”

Before you know it, we built these yellow and black trucks. People are telling me, John, “I see your vehicles everywhere.”

I tell my partner, “We got two. We only have two of them colored like that and they’re telling us they see it everywhere,” and that was a kingpin. The combination of colors and the traction it took in our market, everybody noticed us for what? The cost of wrapping a couple of vehicles. Then I was like, “We got to start wrapping anything we can.” I would wrap a dog if I could, if I was allowed to with our color combination. That was a real pivot point. It made a visual, boom, impact in when people saw it.

John Warrillow:

Love it. Love it. How did you finance this growth? Because the way I think about a service company, in particular a home service company is you spend all the money in marketing, you bought the fancy double-paged ad in the Yellow Pages and all that stuff, you make the phone ring. So, you’re already investing a lot of money to make the phone ring, then you go out and deliver the service, then you might get a credit card, you might have to send an invoice because it’s a business, and you might wait 36 to 90 days to get paid. It’s a negative cashflow cycle. How did you guys finance this business and grow it so quickly?

Mike Agugliaro:

I would like to say it’s from muscles, but you know what? We never took a loan besides using credit cards, which we’ve never carried debt our entire career of growing the company. Here’s what I learned. Don’t go to bed until you make enough money to handle your obligations. I’ve looked at marketing as an obligation. I looked at my vendors as an obligation, and I’m very proud to say this, and if anybody is in a different situation, don’t feel bad. I’ve never not paid an obligation. I’ve never not paid somebody a bill. I’ve never because I was brought up in a code of honor. It’s all I had.

What I learned was, “Okay. If you market it, well, you have to sell.” Now, selling is really simple. Allow people to purchase really amazing value from you. That’s it, right? Marketing is nothing more than emotionally moving people from the problem they have to the solution you have. That’s it. It’s an emotions game.

I just learned that if you let them purchase and you get the job done and they tell people, you will have positive cashflow. We had positive from the first couple of months of making a decision on how to do this different. We were positive cashflow from then to all the way time I exited, and I know it may not fit the paradigms of stories, but when I say don’t go to bed until you mean it, I mean, there’s been a lot of times seven days a week, coming home at 10:00 at night because I knew it would get better, and I knew if I put in the time, we would always solve the problem.

Before you know it, here’s something. So, I’ll tell you where a turning point here, John, was. We stopped the 60-90 day stuff, this waiting for people, and TGI Friday’s restaurant called in, they said, “We got a problem with our plumbing.”

I said, “Okay.”

Ask them how they’re going to pay because we get paid when we’re done now. So, the guy is holding the phone and he’s yelling to the woman in the bar, “How much is in the cash register?”

She goes, “It’s about $980.”

He goes, “We got $980. Will that do?”

We said, “We’re pretty sure it should do it.”

Now, we went from this complete paradigm shift of, “Oh, you got to bill me and I got to wait for PO and you’re going to put me onto the bottom of the deck for a couple of months and tell me you lost the bill,” to now corporate companies are going, “Oh, okay. Well, we want you so we will pay you sooner than others.”

It was a totally different way of thinking. Everyone else told me, “Well, you got to get used to waiting 120 days,” and I got this phrase, John, I say to myself, “What if that’s not true? What if it’s not true? What if it’s your truth and not my truth?” I started questioning all the truths about marketing, sales, and leadership. Guess what? It worked out pretty good questioning the truth of what people think it should be versus what it could be.

John Warrillow:

So, you switched to a mantra that says, “We get paid when the work gets done.”

Mike Agugliaro:

Pay us when we’re done, right? When I eat your meal, can I send you an invoice at TGI Friday’s? I’ll eat the steak and then you bill me and I’ll pay you 120 days. It doesn’t work that way anywhere else in the world. The service industry, somebody one time said, “Oh, Mrs. Jones, don’t worry about it. I’ll send you a bill,” and he started a catalyst from caveman days that nearly destroys people today. It didn’t make sense. You know?

John Warrillow:

I do. Yeah. I do. So, you and Rob went 50/50 on this business all the way? No outside investors?

Mike Agugliaro:

No outside investors. We went 50/50. It’s the only way we thought that it would be right to be in business, and we owned companies, we owned buildings together because we both had to be in the game equally, and we never brought any capital or anything in. Now, later, look, later on, we got different types of leasing loans. I bought 22 service trucks at one time. Every time I would buy a truck, Rob would go, “What do you mean? You want one more truck and I would buy …”

“No, no.” I said, “We don’t need one more. Can you order three?”

He would go, “Oh, my God!” He kept putting it on his credit, and then before you know it, I come back again, John, I go, “We need more trucks.”

“Oh, jeez!” He would go, “Are you kidding me? We’re going to go out of business someday.”

I go, “No, no, but I do want to get 10 this time.”

“10?” and he would throw his hands in the air. It’s two Italian guys. Everything, hands are moving all the time, and then the biggest one I did, I said, “22. We’re going for it.”

He goes, “We don’t even have 22 guys to put in it.”

I said, “Look, when the trucks arrive, the people will show up,” and wouldn’t you know, they did. We had a waiting list of employees, even today, and I get it. It’s a different paradigm, but I truly believe, John, if I opened up a service company today, I would have hundreds of people on the waiting list for me and let the viewers that listen to this, let them respond to you and tell you if that’s true or not because they know one thing. I fought for my team’s livelihood every day. I took that so serious and I said it to them, “I’m fighting for your livelihood every single day that I’m here leading you on.”

John Warrillow:

That’s so good. How did that change in good economic times because in good economic times, as hopefully we’re ushering in now, people have choices, right? I mean, as we’re recording this, it’s in May, there’s a lot of talk about it’s hard to find people because there’s a lot of money swishing around in the system, people don’t want to work, it’s hard. I could see how the message of fighting for your livelihood works in a recession. I’m struggling to see how it would resonate in a good economic environment, where a journeyman electrician would have choices of where to go, right? How did it evolve or how did it work for you in good economic environment?

Mike Agugliaro:

Look, winners win and warrior champions don’t lose. We won in all. We never had a down year. We never had a flat year. The minimum amount we’ve ever added, any year, John, was a million dollars more. Even in the last recession, which they said was as close to the great depression, I came up with one phrase. I told my whole team, I don’t remember, maybe 100 something employees, I said, “Here’s the deal. I refuse to participate in this, and if you’ll fight alongside me, we’ll cruise right through this,” which was what? Three or four years of knocked out. It was like the purge. We made an extra million every year.

I’ve also lived through growth spells. The biggest year I had was adding six and a half million in one year. That’s a lot. Now, today, I work with companies that are doing more than that in the service industry. Six and a half million is a lot.

Here’s the thing. What do people, what do employees, who do they want to work for? Here’s what I learned. One, they want to work for a powerful person, powerful leader, who respects them and they’re not a number. Number two, they want to go to a place where they can grow, they can grow.

My person now, when I exited the company, the person who’s the VP of huge, they grew it huge in four years since I left, he started with me as a plumber, Joe Todaro, a plumber, and he said to me when he joined the company, “Someday I want to be in your shoes,” and said, “Absolutely. We’ll do that.” When I sold, he was one of the number one people there, and we’ll talk about my exit if you want.

So, you know what? Winners win, and warrior champions just never lose because people are magnified by power. They want that. They want to work with someone that they know is going to invest in their growth. Leadership is a big lack. Just so you know, the pandemic is not the problem. The virus is not the problem. It’s lack of leadership is the problem. Everybody’s leadership. Everybody is waiting for whatever people to save the day. You start saving the day. I’m saving the day for people. I help people every day of my life in one way or another because I’m not waiting for Superman to land. I’m part of Superman. I’m here to help the dynamics, and if people listening to this start to live in that way, you’ll find out.

The second thing, John, here is this, and you guys know this. Your mind will create whatever reality you choose. I used to program myself and say this. John, in 1994, there’s no good employee. They’re going to break all my stuff. They’re all on drugs. They’ll rob my truck. There’s nobody good. There’s nobody good. You think your brain hears you say, “Nobody good, nobody good,” and your brain goes, “Bull. Why don’t you find a good …” No. Your brain doesn’t even know how to talk the conversation.

I turned around one day and said this. I said, “You know what? There’s a lot of amazing team. There’s a lot of great people out there. I just don’t see them yet.” Listen, for whatever truth you want to put here, that day I get a call and someone says, “Hey are you looking for someone to join the team?” I’m like, “Let’s have a …” I was like, “I can’t believe it.” It’s true. I programmed my brain for failure versus success. Think about that.

John Warrillow:

That’s interesting. So, let’s get into the value of the company. So, you’re growing this. Did you have any sense of how it would be valued? What were you starting to learn about?

Mike Agugliaro:

Yeah. I had no idea. Look, people were coming. We were doing maybe $8 million a year, and people were chasing us. You want to sell, there was alarm companies that we’re doing acquisitions, and I had three partners at one time. Me and my partner had to buyout a third one. That’s just another story for another day. They would say, “We got to eight million,” and I’m like, “All right. We’re 30 something years old, 35, whatever. Eight million? Where is that going to go?” So, I didn’t have any idea on what it would take to get acquired.

Later in time, about probably six years ago because I exited four years ago, so six years ago, no, no, seven years ago, John, seven years ago, I was so frustrated because I was in these organizations and all of these people that I was hanging around. You know when you’re successful, you get around people you’re like, “Things are going great,” and they’re like, “Not for me,” and you start dimming yourself. You’re afraid to share your success.

So, seven years ago, I went on this passion to start changing the service industry. As I started to change the service industry with this company called CEO Warrior I built, I started to say to myself, “Wait a minute. Okay. Growing a service company is easy. If I die, is that really a legacy? ‘Okay. He grew a $32 million company.’ Maybe it’s a legacy. It didn’t feel like one to me.”

I started to say myself, “I got to have a legacy. I need to change an industry,” and then I said, “Well, eventually, if I’m going to go 100% there and serve,” because I knew I was born to remove suffering from people. I know that in my deep soul. I had to then figure out, “Well, what am I going to do with this company someday? I’m not going to throw it away. I’m not going to give it away. I love it, but I know I can’t be married to two things at one time and change the world.”

That took me … Look, I’ve read your book. I consumed every book on exits and strategies and all of this, and I’ll share in a minute if you want to know the big turning point for me. I started to look at the industry for what’s the multiples. I didn’t know what EBITDA was. People would mention it to me all the time. I’m like, “Oh.” You know when you act like you know things, you’re like, “Oh. Yeah, I got a good EBITDA.” I’m like, “What is that? Temperature in the building?” I had no idea.

John Warrillow:

You can’t grow a $30 million without knowing what EBITDA is.

Mike Agugliaro:

Let me tell you, John. Here’s what I knew, marketing, sales, and leadership. EBITDA ain’t in there. The financial wasn’t in there for me. Now, look, I know conversion rate, and average, and P&L, but I didn’t understand that’s an indicator that’s going to play a part in an exit. I didn’t know that.

So, then I said, “Okay. Well, we got to fix things here.”

Now, my service company was growing big, but the profit was really tiny. It’s tiny, sometimes 2%. It was low. Jay Abraham, if anybody knows Jay Abraham, I was meeting with him a little before that time, and he said, “Oh, you got a company.”

I’m like, whatever, I was at 28 million. I feel like I’m king. Profits were little. He looked at me and he said, “Profit?” He goes, “That’s horrible.” I felt like my grandfather was talking to me pointing his finger. He’s like, “It’s horrible, Mike.” He said, “You have to fix this.”

I walked away like I had a tail… I was like, “This is horrible.” I never realized it because you think you’re making cash and you got all these trucks and all these people, you feel good. Within a year, we turned it into double digit profit, which goes back, well, I learned part of this EBITDA, this profit is a pretty darn important indicator here. It wasn’t when we were growing. It was about trucks and people. We took it to double digit, and then I started meeting with everybody I could – hire the best, ask them good questions.

Then we came down and we’re like, “Okay.” The basic multiple was a five was really good. In the service industry, you were a hotdog at a five. I can’t share the exact number, but let’s just say we exceeded that a lot. Our multiple, we got when we exited four years ago, people, John, you would think they thought angels came down. Now, it’s even more than that. It’s even more. If I waited, it would have been probably even another some of them in the service industry 15 points, 15. When did you ever live?

Now, we’re at the peak of this part of it, right? We’re at the pinnacle of this, not that there’s never a wrong time to exit, there’s just another positioning. So, once I had that number, I had a target. You know the difference between a goal and a target? Let me share it for all the listeners.

Most people, John, a goal is something they attempt to do but they’re used to failing, “Oh, I got a goal. I’m going to lose 20 pounds of weight,” and then they lose 10, so that goal is a failure. See, a target is a destination in time. See, I learned this in combat and from my military friends. If any military or vets are listening to this, thank you. Heartfelt thank you for your service. They said, “Look, target is a destination. When we set our eyes on the target, we don’t miss.”

I said, “Oh. I got to have a profit target and then I’m going to have a multiple target,” and this changes everything about the way you think. Everything changes. Then you tell me when you’re ready if you have another question there. I’ll share one of the biggest things I did above I believe I’ve never heard anybody say it and I wasn’t taught it, but I figured it out and I’ll share that when you’re ready.

John Warrillow:

I’m ready.

Mike Agugliaro:

Okay. So, what does a marketer do, John? I started to read these books and they started talking about pitch books and they build this packet and they present it to the world and the world comes in and says, “I like that. Let me look at that company.”

I said, “You know what? I’m going to help build a pitch book that is so marketing it makes you feel like you’re making love to somebody. I’m going to make this thing when you read it you go, ‘I need that company and now.'”

So, I worked with a really good firm that helped us find people to look at this, and I was giving them insight on building this pitch book. See, you never want to sell just on what you have. You know this. You want to sell on the opportunity it could become. Most people say, “They’re only going to buy what you have,” and I go, “No, no, no. They don’t. If you don’t know what you’re doing, they only buy the base on that asset you have. If you’re really good at positioning, they’re buying that future.”

Again, John, I went back to this, “What do I want to be true for me?” So, I built this marketing. I will give every one of you an action item. If you’re listening to this amazing show, and you think you’re going to exit someday, which everybody is going to exit, you’re either going to give it, you’re going to sell it, it’s going to go out of business or you’re going to die. We all know that. You’re going to leave the company at one time in existence no matter what.

Here’s what I would tell you. You build your pitch book right now. I don’t care if you’re going to sell five, 10 years from now. Build it now because you know what? You have this working document that you’re going to keep adding to and watching it grow and it’s going to manifest into this thing that at one point you’re going to go, “This opportunity here is incredible.” Now, when you’re ready, boom! I mean, we closed, John, at point of someone who wanted us, I think it was 45 days, 45 days.

What’s really interesting, which I don’t know how many people you have in the show that says in 45 days, John, me and my partner signed our name and we never went back. We didn’t stay on for no time. That was all, again, strategically on our leadership. Remember, marketing, sales, and leadership. We had a leadership team. I said, “Why would you want to keep me? With my salary and my partner’s salary, your profit is going to go through the roof the day I sign and I walk out the door.” My team’s been running it for five years without me. I didn’t even have an office in my building for the last five years because I wanted to build it exactly the way I wanted it, not what the world says it can be.

John Warrillow:

Love it.

Mike Agugliaro:

Some magic there for everybody.

John Warrillow:

How did you arrive at the target? You mentioned you wanted a target in terms of profitability and a target in terms of multiple. I’m assuming you were chasing a number.

Mike Agugliaro:

Yeah, yeah.

John Warrillow:

What was the number? If you can’t share, that’s okay. I’d be curious to know why that number was important to you.

Mike Agugliaro:

Yeah, yeah. I was chasing two numbers at one time. One, I chased a revenue target because there was very few people in the world doing a service company, a 32 million, and we had it 32 million in 2017. Our target was 40 million by 2020, and we were going to exceed that 20 million at the pace we’re going. My second target became this profit thing after the brilliant Jay Abraham didn’t mean to, but I felt like shame and guilt like I’m a bad guy because I have this pity little profit. My next thing was double digit profit at 32 million. Very few people ever do that.

My next thing was, “What would it take for an acquisition to put me in a level that the next 10 generations of my life, my kids’ life, their kids’ life would never have to worry?” Now, I can’t share the exact number, but I could just tell you that I hit that number that I don’t ever have to work and the next 10 generations would never have to work again as long as they’re responsible, and they read all the books I wrote on what to do and not to, and they’re smart with their money. It will just keep going, and that’s what I wanted to get to.

It’s interesting because I was listening to an interview with Kevin O’Leary today. He says he works harder today than he did 20 years ago. Me, too. Me, too, because you know what? Now, when you change the legacy, it becomes the next thing. The next target is, how can you change the world? How can you change the world?

John Warrillow:

How do you think about your own kids? So, you mentioned you grew up in very difficult circumstances as a 15-year-old. You’re on your own, scrappy, making it work. Obviously, in your own admission, that gave you a lot of drive and a lot of determination. None of which your child is experiencing, right? They’ve grown up with a dad who’s well-known, who’s got lots of money, and lots of success. How do you reconcile with that? How do you instill the sense of grit in your own kids when dad’s got a lot of money?

Mike Agugliaro:

Yeah. Well, I’ll tell you something one time. This will make sense this story. John, one time I had one of my clients in my coaching company came to visit me with his wife in our house. We had a basic two-story colonial not super fancy, and they left and they told me, the guy says, “My wife thinks that’s not your real house. That’s a fake house and you have a really big house somewhere far away.”

Being a martial artist, my one instructor, Chris Rossman, he said, “You’ll either own things or things will own you.” So, I live a pretty conservative life. Now, yeah, my wife’s got a BMW. We got a nice car. We live down at the beach. I’ve always lived an example with my children to let them know I’m a hard worker but also makes smart decisions. My son’s going to be 22 in a couple of weeks. He was born five weeks early on my birthday. He’s been running his own martial arts business for four plus years now. When COVID came, he flipped right to virtual martial arts combat. He’s an author. He wrote his own book two years ago, authored his own book. He doesn’t have it all figured out in his business, but he’s figured out a lot and he’s grinding it. He’s working it. He gets clients and he has them on a small subscription basis.

My daughter is 19. She got yoga certified when she was 17. Both of my kids were homeschooled. Now, it’s not foreign to be homeschooled, but when I decided to homeschool my children, which I think my daughter was 7, my son was 10, I was a black sheep. Everybody looked at me like, “Your kids are going to be social… They’re going to live under the attic steps, or something.” Now, the world, everybody is homeschooled, right?

My daughter, yoga certified, runs her own virtual yoga company now, does corporate. She’s brilliant at it, and she’s going to college, and she wants to possibly be a nurse, and she’s knocking it out of the park. So, it goes back to my wife and I were very conscious on what we did and how we did it and how we communicated values. Look, anybody listening, please do not think we’re perfect. By no means, we figured out a lot of stuff we would do again and things we wouldn’t do, but we instilled what does work look like, what does focus and discipline, and I led by example. I mean, I don’t drink any caffeine. I don’t eat any gluten. I’ve never drank any alcohol in my entire life.

So, I’ve always tried to take these paradigms and say, “Look, I’m doing the things, and sometimes they’re tough decisions because the world is doing this, and maybe consider that for yourself.” I’m pretty excited how that’s working out for everybody.

John Warrillow:

It sounds it. I mean, you built a company, which had a very unique culture, one in which you said you got to war for your employees. Tell me about the process of just telling your employees you sold the company. I’d love to know the story. Take me into the boardroom. I want to hear how you approached it, how you prepared. It’s one of the most intimidating conversations, I think, entrepreneurs have.

Mike Agugliaro:

It is. I’ve only shed tears in my company twice in front of my employees. One was when a general manager of mine really did me really wrong like tried to sabotage the company, steal employees, started his own company while I was paying them a fortune, and I went to tell my employees what happened, and literally, I had to walk out of the room with my tears in my eyes.

This was even more difficult because when we closed Gold Medal, it was right before the fourth of July and the people who invested in us, they said, “Well, we don’t want to tell anybody till …” So, there was five or six days or seven days from the time of closing to the time of getting in front of the employees. Oh, my goodness! You play a lot of mind games for yourself, and then things leak out and people are asking you things.

You know what? I stood in front of them, me and my partner. It was emotional for me because I loved these people, and I wasn’t leaving the company because I didn’t love them. I was leaving it because it was really going to be the best thing for their future. This company was going to come in, they were going to grow it. It was going to open up opportunities. Almost all my managers there are in another position making so much more money than I might have even been able to get them to.

The other thing is my partner and I weren’t looking for the looking for the highest value exit. We were looking for the best position exit for them. The company’s son that we had partnered with at that time was world class. We had another company that was running hand-in-hand, could have probably, John, I’ll tell you what, probably could have made an extra million dollars. I didn’t believe they would treat the people right. I didn’t think they would do the right thing. They were known for just crunching and burning these things. So, when I stood in front of them, as emotional as it was, I knew that I was doing the right thing for them.

John Warrillow:

What did you say?

Mike Agugliaro:

I said, “Everybody knows that I was growing this company CEO Warrior. It’s a training and implementation organization. It was three years that I was doing it. We used to have sometimes 50 or 80 people in the company transforming how people thought about the industry,” and I said, “You guys know I love this, but I love this and I was put on this world to impact the world, and if I’m impacting the world, I got to make sure I’m serving you at the same time, and I can’t do that the way we’re doing it. So, with that being said, we chose to partner and bring aboard an amazing company who’s going to bring resources and capital and knowledge, and some of you in the room may be a little nervous or a little scared, and I’ll tell you, you got nothing to worry about. I’m not disappearing off the planet. I’m just letting the team who’s been running it. We have three amazing people that were directors running it, and business is not going to change. If anything, it’s going to enhance, and your life is going to change.”

That’s probably somewhere in there was where, I can feel it right now, the emotionalness of that time because, for me, you got to remember, an all-company meeting was 200 people. We would invite people to see. It was like a rock concert, AC/DC playing. I mean, this was me, and then the day after, I don’t have 200 people. I had my warrior culture, and I bring them in, but that wasn’t 200 people. So, man, it was emotional.

Then my partner said some stuff, and then the new people went up there and they said some words. It’s one of those things when you walk out of the room. Every meeting I had, John, no matter what the meeting is, I would go at the end. 200 employees, I’d run to the back of the door where everybody is going to go out and I would fist bump them, all 200 of them. Sometimes I’d have to switch my fist because some of these brilliant plumbers had big hands and I’d fist bump everyone and tell them I’m grateful for them, and that was the hardest 200 fist bumps of my life because that’s … and I’ll tell you that’s not even the biggest challenge, John.

I’ll tell you the unexpected challenge of the whole exit for that was my children. I couldn’t believe it. I never thought, and anybody listening, please pay attention to this. I never thought how much the company became part of my kids’ identity. When I went to tell them, “Hey, I’m selling,” they were like, “What do you mean?” I was telling my wife, “Oh, my God! This has become part of their identity. They were young kids. They would punch buggy their friends because they’ve seen one of our trucks go by,” and I’m like, “Wow! This is going to be hard.”

It was actually more conversations with my children than it ever was with the company because the company grownups, they get it, things happen, they get over it, they move forward. Kids, I had to really share with them. The good thing is I’m a big believer in this, and somebody told me one time. They sold their business and then they lost their way, and went in a state of depression for eight years.

He told me, he goes, “Whatever you do, know what you’re going to do and what your life is going to be like after you exit.” So, that’s why I started the company CEO Warrior because I knew I wanted to do it. So, thank God for that. My kids were like, “Oh, you’re not stopping. You’re stopping that, but you’re really doing this to change the world,” and that was so helpful.

It was helpful for me, too, because I’m one of those people. I have to know what that next thing is and I have to be impacting the world. This is not a new thing. When I was 20 years old. I was teaching martial arts to the DARE program helping kids that run, they were 14 years old on heroin or something. I was in my early 18, 19, 20 teaching them because I just wanted people not to suffer. Plus, I was on my own so young. I knew what it felt like to be alone and suffering in silence.

John Warrillow:

So, your kids, part of their status on the playground was, “Yeah, my dad’s the guy who owns the Gold Medal. That truck, that’s my dad’s truck,” and that gave them a sense of pride, I guess.

Mike Agugliaro:

The broker doesn’t know that. The broker doesn’t tell you. The broker knows everything to do to sell the business. I wish somebody told me, “Hey, what’s the identity of your children? How will you break it to your family? What will tell your best friends? What’s next for you?” Nobody shares that piece. I watched it. Now, I’ve been able to help a lot of companies, but I watched years ago a lot of people sell and they think they’re going to golf, they think they’re going to fish, and they get lost very quick because part of their purpose goes away. I think people that are helping people exit companies, I had a brilliant person that helped me, they should tell people about this. They should.

John Warrillow:

Well, you’ve helped a lot of people today, Mike. I really appreciate you doing this and sharing with such humility and candor. Awesome, awesome conversation. So, thanks for doing this. Is there a place where you want to send people? Is there a website or do you accept LinkedIn connections? What’s best?

Mike Agugliaro:

Yeah. There’s two areas today if I can mention. One of them is if you’re in a service type business, anything that works on a residential home and helps people solve problems in their house, go to CEOWarrior.com, and we help service companies. We’re the best in the world that help them get processes, systems, marketing and growth in place and we do events and stuff.

If you’re looking for a personal peak performance and life training, how to get your life, your relationships, and wealth, and all that to the next level, I have another company that’s called Fu Dog Group, F-U D-O-G Group.com. So, I have best of both worlds for anybody listening. If I can serve you, and if for some reason you’re just listening and you’re in a bad place, reach out to me. Send me a Facebook message. You’ll find me. I’ll send you a free book. No obligation. I don’t want anybody to suffer. I’m honored to be on here, John, and you are doing something that is changing the world because business owners don’t know how to navigate these worlds. So, kudos to you, my friend. I’m proud of you for being a part of helping people today. It’s a good thing.

John Warrillow:

That’s very generous for you to say. So, we’ll put all that CEO Warrior, Fu Dog in the show notes, BuiltToSell.com, to grab those. Mike, thank you for doing this.

Mike Agugliaro:

Thanks, brother. Have a good day.

John Warrillow:

Hey, if you liked today’s episode, you’re going to love my new book, The Art of Selling Your Business. The book was inspired by the cohort of my guests over the years who have been able to negotiate an exit far better than the benchmark in their industry, sometimes two or three times more than I would have expected.

I was curious to understand the tactics and strategies of these entrepreneurs, and what they do different from average performers. The result is a playbook for punching above your weight when it comes to selling your business. To learn more, go to BuiltToSell.com/Selling, where we put together a collection of gifts for listeners who order the book. Just to go to BuiltToSell.com/Selling.

Built to Sell Radio is produced by Haley Parkhill. Our audio and video engineer is Denis Labattaglia. If you liked what you’ve just heard, subscribe to get a new episode delivered to your inbox each week. Just to BuiltToSell.com.

Outro:

Thanks for listening to Built to Sell Radio with John Warrillow. For complete show notes with links to additional resources, visit BuiltToSell.com/Blog. John is the founder of The Value Builder System™. To find out how to improve the value of your business by 71%, visit ValueBuilderSystem.com. John is also the author of Built to Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You and The Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry. Connect with John at facebook.com/BuiltToSell or on Twitter, @JohnWarrillow, W-A-R-R-I-L-L-O-W. Thanks for listening.

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