How This Contractor Keeps A 93% Employee Retention Rate with Charles Antis
In this interview, Charles Antis shares with us how leading with the cause will shape an amazing corporate culture (Antis has a 93% employee retention rate) and drive new business, all while giving real meaning to what you do.
- Attracting the right leads and finding the most profitable deals
- What Charles does, who he helps, and what makes Antis Roofing different
- Principles to consider when building a user-friendly website
- Building success through word of mouth marketing
- Creating a company culture that respects and shows a deeper appreciation for employees
- What inspired Charles to get involved in charity work and give back to the community
- Establishing your why behind everything you do – How to build trust and get customers involved
- Retaining millennials as employees and adapting to new mindsets
- The currency of social good and showing your alignment authentically
- How small companies can make a difference
- Inside out authentic branding
- The impact of the Roofing Alliance and the gift of giving
- Showing up authentically and the importance of self-assessment
- The influence of sharing stories
Listen to the full podcast below.
Dave Sullivan: Hey everybody. What’s up? Welcome to The Roofer Show, the place to be if you want to grow a more profitable roofing business. I’m your host Dave Sullivan and I’ve been a successful roofing contractor for over 30 years and I’m here to share with you what I’ve learned. Get more tips, strategies, and free downloads from going to my website at theroofershow.com. I’ve got a special guest today and that is Charles Antis from Antis Roofing down in Southern California. Sunny California where we put roofs on for shade. Charles is going to be the keynote speaker down at the Best of Success Conference down in Miami here coming up in September 15th through the 17th. That’s put on by Roofer Magazine. It’s a great show and everybody should check this out. Great group of people, good opportunity for networking, learn a lot, a lot of good speakers.
Dave Sullivan: Today we’re going to get into what that keynote is all about and what makes Antis Roofing so successful because they’ve got a totally different twist on building their success and this is a real interesting company. We can all learn a lot from Charles and the way that this business is set up. I’m very impressed and really have a great conversation that everybody’s going to want to check out.
Dave Sullivan: Also, if you can’t make it down to Miami for this conference, you can get some of these talks on demand. I know Charles’s keynote is one of those that you can listen to and they’re free. Go to roofingcontractor.com I think it is. It’s Roofing Contractor Magazine and Best of Success 2019. Check that out, sign up for it. Make sure that you sign up for the magazine. It’s free, great magazine, gives you all the updates on what’s going on in the industry and you can learn a lot so check that out. Okay, let’s get into our interview with Charles Antis.
Dave Sullivan: Charles, thanks for coming onto the show today. I really appreciate it.
Charles Antis: I’m excited, Dave. Let’s do this.
Dave Sullivan: I’ve been following you on LinkedIn for quite a while. By the way, all our listeners should be on LinkedIn and this is something that’s important and a great way to stay connected. It’s just not about looking for jobs and so forth, but be sure you connect with me, connect with Charles. Check it out, there’s some great stuff. If you need help with your profile, call me up because that’s really important. As I was saying, I am really involved with LinkedIn. The first thing I did this morning, I go to LinkedIn because I post things and see what’s going on. The first thing, here your handsome face pops up. You have this great message and I just want to play that.
Charles Antis: Hi, I’m Charles Antis. I’m founder and CEO here at Antis Roofing and Waterproofing. What is my favorite part about working in the roofing industry? That is easy. I can tell you hands down it is the people. The people in the roofing industry have the biggest hearts and the broadest shoulders because we keep families safe and dry across the country.
Dave Sullivan: Yeah, so I love that post. These are some of the things that I want to talk to you about today because you post a lot of content out there almost everyday and I never see really anything talking about your business, how great you are, how you’re the biggest, baddest best, like everybody else is doing out there. You have a different tact. I want to get into that because it’s really interesting. First, if we can step back. We talk about elevator pitches on this show a lot. Charles, can you give us your pitch about who you are, what you do, who you help, what makes you different? Can you give us a little shot on that?
Charles Antis: Yeah. Yes, I’ll try. I mean, we are a roofing company that is in Southern California, location wise, Irvine right by the Orange County airport and we cater to the HOA industry. If you live in a condo and you vote for your roofing as a whole, all 200 of your units and we bid on, and we repair, and maintain, and replace your roofs all the way from San Diego to LA. That’s all we do and we’re fantastic at it. There’s my big bravado on the roof.
Charles Antis: If I really go to who we are, the reason we’re fantastic at it is because we have purpose. We know why we exist from top to bottom. We all have a story that puts us under this umbrella why we’re a company that exists to keep families safe and dry. We’ll probably talk about a lot how we got to that motto. Right now, we’re in our 30th year and our logo this year, we changed it from saying “Antis Roofing and Waterproofing,” to saying “Antis, 30 Years Keeping Families Safe and Dry.” I think having that purpose and knowing our why is critically important for us installing that quality roof.
Dave Sullivan: Charles, I love it. One of the things that I like to do when I have a contactor on is I always go back and check out their website, see what they’re all about, and so forth. I’m looking at your website now at antisroofing.com and all our listeners should check this out because this is an example of a great website. The reason is, it’s very clear on what you do and it’s not a bunch of stock photos of comp roofs that mean nothing to anybody as a buyer of home services. It is clear here, and as you say, Antis 30 years keeping families safe and dry. I love that, tells you exactly what you do. Just going through this, it is really a great site, makes it clear. What I like about it is you have so many photos of your people, your employees. I’m looking through this, we’ve got what we do, which is really clear. You do associations, something that we never did. That was one area that we really stayed away from in our business.
Charles Antis: Oh, I know why.
Dave Sullivan: Exactly, so you’ve obviously figured out how to do it and do it profitably without getting sued and without going through all the other stuff. Then, you’ve got your story, talks about that. It also talks about really the feel that I get from this website is all about your people and your employees and that really comes through. I think that’s what homeowners or business owners want to see these days. They want to see something different where these are the guys that are going to be out there installing my roof. That’s what they want to see and that’s what I love about this site. What were you thinking when you were designing this? Am I on the right track here?
Charles Antis: Yeah. I have a lot of quick principles I’ll throw at you. I’m not an expert on sociology, why people do what they do in groups and in masses, but I’m a tinkerer and a philosopher. First off, I’d say we follow a couple principles that are rally, really important and the first is we really focus on neuro messaging. Neuro messaging is not what you’re reading that you think, “Hm, that’s really intelligent.” It’s that connection to your animal brain so nothing shows that more than that photo. That photo of that friendly actual photo of one of our employees up on a roof, or this simple messaging. Our logo is clean, it’s crisp, it’s almost as simple as a Nike swish. That means that people can take that with them in their emotional memory better. It’s hard to explain why, I’m not good at explaining why, but that’s directionally accurate data.
Charles Antis: The other principle that you see in our website is this principle of inclusivity and messaging. In messaging, this sounds really weird to a lot of you, but again, I’m asking for you to trust me, and I can’t explain why it’s true. My wife always uses this expression, she says, “Everything happens for a reason.” I think it’s a great expression, I think it’s true. However, I used to say the same thing differently. I used to say, “Nothing happens by accident.” Those two statements sound relatively the same, don’t they to you, Dave?
Dave Sullivan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Charles Antis: The first is entirely different in the way if affects your animal brain, your fight or flight brain. There’s power in having a language of inclusivity. Never have a no, or a gimmick, or anything that’s negative, or a negative picture in your space, unless it’s followed by an immediate solving picture. The picture of the clean house as opposed to the leaky house. There’s simple messaging and we’re not overpowering it. If you go to our website ten years ago, you’d see words, words, words, but it’s a faster world. People don’t read on their PC. People see everything, they get all of their content while standing in a crowded line at Starbucks. I didn’t make that up, I learned it from one of the most successful corporate social responsibility, the editor of Atlantic Magazine who viral tweets with millions of likes. It’s that we are catering to …
Charles Antis: The only thing I’m not satisfied with our website is, and maybe because we have so much is it’s not fast enough. It also needs to be fast in this age. As I told you in our intake call, I appreciate the compliments, but I want it to be faster because people are moving so quick. Those people that would decide who you are, and not only your clients, but other stakeholders that end up protecting you quietly in the community, how you show up to them really matters.
Dave Sullivan: I totally agree. They want to see something quick, they want to see images. They’re making those decisions very quickly. You’re so right about having that great experience from your phone which is really important. That’s why you don’t want to have a lot of text. That’s why I really like this website. It just gives you a good feel, a clear feel of what’s going on and here’s a company that I feel that I can trust.
Dave Sullivan: Now, I’m skipping over to the careers section because we all know that our number one problem that we all face in this industry is the lack of qualified workforce. I know that you’ve done a great job. You have, I don’t know what, 90% retention rate of your people I’ve heard. You’re obviously doing something right. I’m looking at this page, gives you a clear picture if I was looking. The way that it happens is you get pissed off at the job that you’re at because you’re not being treated with respect. Here you are busting your ass and there’s no appreciation, right? Here I am, I’m looking around, I come to your website on the careers section. Here’s a company that I would like to be part of. Charles, what were you thinking when you developed this?
Charles Antis: I think that it’s an evolution, it’s one of those things. I think anything that’s successful today, don’t stand pat, you have to be super nimble. People are going to come in and revolutionize roofing. In this case, I think that we’re learning. We try to attract talent with the website and I’ll get to that more. Really, what I’ve learned and I’ve learned this through deep studies by the NRCA of which I’m a board member, the National Roofing Contractors Association, that really, across the country, especially with the Latin workforce, which that’s most of our workforce in the country in roofing, that the only real proven success is by word of mouth through family because there’s so many connections through family. I think immigrants and first generations have such a trust issue, so it’s really word of mouth.
Charles Antis: If word of mouth is the number one way, I believe the best way I know how to find success in recruiting on getting the opportunity is going to be through enticing, not enticing, but rewarding word of mouth. I know we had internal documents recently, we just doubled our amount, at least right for now because we need to hire more to fill the work that we have. I believe we’re going to be able to do so because we have two things, we have those connections and we treat our people really well and word gets around, but also because we have a solid brand that spills out into our community and kind of shows up.
Charles Antis: It shows up from a nonprofit, over to a restaurant where maybe one of the wives of one of the workers work. The wife helps the husband feel more comfortable about staying here at Antis. There’s a lot of deeper stuff that we’re trying to build into the HR, like at Antis Roofing have an [inaudible 00:13:37], which is a Mexican tradition which is if we can, giving as much as an extra month’s salary around Christmas time, which we were able to do two years ago when we had a lot of rain and this year we’re hoping to be able to do something similar. It’s really understanding the culture and the people. I really love the heritage of my Latin labor force so we study it.
Charles Antis: I found out about five years ago that most of our guys are Mexican and they grew up on a ranch in Central Mexico. I found that by taking them all to breakfast and talking to them and their stories were similar. I kind of got into that why is the thing with the bull, or define respect for me. These men define respect, not in the way that we think it’s like a chip on your shoulder. I listened to one man after another explain that when he grew up on a ranch, before he would go to school, his father would wake him up at 3-4am and he would say “Hey, Narciso.” He didn’t say, “Hey, get up and go to work.” He said, “Narciso, will you go out and work with me a couple hours on the farm before you go to school?”
Charles Antis: That’s the respect and that’s the honor of the system they came from and I understood that. Then I was able to understand that they have this great lore of the white wolf, the lobo, because it’s nearly extinct, it’s no longer taking their sheep and their cattle. We created lobo awards so we could really reward those traits like leader of the pack award, these traits that these men have and the reference that we could both understand. To me, I think that I’ve been able to …
Charles Antis: I’m going to tell you about last night, I’m so excited. We were asked to enter a non profit soccer tournament. For 30 years, I’ve always wanted to have a soccer team but I didn’t know if we could support it or have the interest. We had 30 volunteers and we did really well in the soccer tournament and it was so cool to see my guys on the field with these computer tech guys from Europe playing and high fiving after the game. Last night we played our first league game in Irvine League play. It was like so cool because these guys, who some of them were immigrants and they haven’t always felt safe. If you could have heard at halftime where my marketing manager and my VP of sales, and I, we were listening and there was this chirping and chatter of giggling and happiness. One of my guys that’s worked for me for almost 20 years, he came over and he goes, “You know, it’s like right now on the field, we don’t think of anything other than this moment and how great it is.” After the game they throw those high fives.
Charles Antis: That’s what we have to try to get to. We have to see our people as every bit of human that they are. I can’t believe the story of almost every man I’ve ever hired in the roofing business and I can’t believe this is true of our trade that I love so much, but there are some of us out there that don’t rep it so well. That’s why those of us listening we have to rep it well because almost every man that is an immigrant that’s ever worked for me has a story of being stiffed working without pay for a week, or a month, or longer. I think that we have a real opportunity to lift our trade and lift it from these big strong super heroes, those guys that are up there on the roof.
Charles Antis: That’s something that I try to do. I try to humanize this trade because I used to be ashamed of it, Dave. I talk about this a lot, I used to put my hands in my pocket and try to come up with what I would say that I would be respected. I would tell people I’m a roofer. I would brag almost about how I don’t have a good job. Then I somehow along the way learned that no, I have a great job. I have a trade. It’s always going to be there and I’m the one who goes out there in that storm and my guys are the techs that go out there when no one else will go. They will go up on that roof, they will solve it, and they will keep you safe and dry.
Charles Antis: Everything in this country that we love, everything in this country that we want, that we want to care for, we protect it. I love to see this swelling up of healthy pride in the industry which I feel from coast to coast as a member of the NRCA. I got on my soapbox a little bit there, but that was a good question, thanks.
Dave Sullivan: I feel exactly the same way. In my business we did a lot of similar things. We also had 100% Hispanic work force out here in California. I had the greatest people and we had a great retention rate. You’ve got to, as you say, treat them in a human way and a respectful way because these guys really are kicking ass, this is a tough job. They just need to be show appreciation and respect and this is where so many contractors fail.
Charles Antis: I have to be authentic in the moment. I do not give myself a passing grade there yet. I have to say. I do not give myself a passing grade there yet. When I look at the men in the field, so many times our company, we get a lot of accolades for the good that we do and it means a lot to me but some of the accolades we get for our culture, I’m telling you, we haven’t built it all the way. Until you live in the neighborhoods where these people live, I think that we have to keep trying. What I love is I belong to a group like the NRCA, like The Roofing Alliance, and other trade organizations that truly are trying to build the bridge all the way to everybody no matter what. It’s a good time. It’s a really good time to be an active member and an NRCA member in the roofing industry.
Dave Sullivan: It’s interesting. I’ve been in this business for 30 plus years and I worked with my father, who was in the business forever. It’s always been the same complaint. This is not a new issue, which is there’s just no good people out there. There are and there’s a ton of them, but you have to attract them and the way to do that is exactly what you say is to have a great reputation. Word of mouth is where your guys are going to come from because when they go into that bar, whatever and they say, “God, my job sucks. I can’t stand working for these guys,” … “Oh hey, I love my job. We’ve got a great organization.”
Dave Sullivan: People want to be part of something, they want to be involved with a company that’s going somewhere, that has a career path for them, and you really just have to take the time, as you say, to get to know the guys and do these type of things. We always had a big carnival every spring. We would have them invite their friends also, which just happened to be other roofers. They would bring their kids, their wives, give out prizes. Once those kids start loving this business, once the wives are going, “God, this is a great business. Our kids love it,” that’s when things really start to happen. That was really our most successful program for retaining our employees and that really worked well for us.
Charles Antis: Yeah, I love that. We’ve done the same thing, carnivals with bull rides and we’ve got a steer roping contest, and tickets to Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. Actually we’re going to do something similar. We’re actually going to have our company party I think next month in Knott’s Berry Farm and we’re pretty excited about that.
Dave Sullivan: I love it. Those are great things for our listeners. There are good people out there, but you’ve got to work at this. This is our number one asset, so put the effort, and the time, and the thought to show appreciation for our guys that our out there just kicking ass. Charles, this is a good segue into really what I wanted to talk about which I see is really what makes your company different. As I said, I’ve been following you on LinkedIn. I never see you out there pitching your company like everybody else does, you know it’s all about me, all about me. What you do is unique. What I like about following you on LinkedIn, and talking with you, and getting to know you better is that you are really involved in your community and taking the bull by the horns as far as charitable events and really giving back. Let’s talk about that a bit. What can you tell me and what is that all about?
Charles Antis: You know, it’s so weird how life is. I never had a business plan to do any of this. It was just life happening. It’s like we talked briefly before about how the business started and it was sort of born out of that. My business started because I had taken a summer job. I grew up Mormon, I’m no longer Mormon so that makes me a Foreman, but when you’re Mormon, you grow up, and you go on a mission, and you go to BYU when I went. I went on a mission to Thailand which was a great experience because it was like a Peace Corp type mission and I got to learn about service over there.
Charles Antis: I came back and I was recruited like all underclassmen are at BYU because they just had two years sales experience knocking on doors around the world. I was recruited to go sell in Southern California. I was selling something that was partnered with the So Cal Gas Company so we said. I started selling and I sold for a while until one day I went to pick up a check from a homeowner that was a really nice family, in fact they were deaf and I was write communicating with them. I went back to pick up a check from this deaf family and the neighbor met me at the door and said, “How dare you? Get away! You tried to rip them off and you promised them they were going to save this on their electricity and it’s impossible.”
Charles Antis: I looked at what she said and I thought, “Well damn, I think she’s right,” so I quit. I quit that day and I looked for a job. Here I was in Southern California, I had a little money owed to me, but I didn’t have any cash. I had a wrecked car because I had wrecked it. I was like what am I going to do? The only job I could find was working for a roofing company and that’s how I started in roofing. I grew up in Oregon as a laborer working in the woods, working in the lumber mill and labor was something I knew I could stand up next to the next guy with. I got a job and was tearing off roofs and I was out in the hot sun.
Charles Antis: It was really hard but I stuck with it until I learned I had a skill eventually and that was I like to sniff out leaks. Anything that would leak from rain, it became something I could do. One day when it turned out there wasn’t enough work at this company, I realized maybe I had a skill and I had a couple side jobs where I could go ahead and have a better trail of income solving these leaks. Not with a business plan, but with not enough work in the company I was working in, I hung a shingle up. I needed every job, I needed every phone call and I got about two or three phone calls a week. In fact, those phone calls were so important that my job, one of those early weeks was putting weather stripping on that bedroom door that I converted into an office so they wouldn’t be able to hear my daughter crying if I got a phone call.
Charles Antis: Not long after that, I got a phone call one week and I got a phone call from a lady who said she had leaks. She had leaks in every room and to me that’s like a golden call. I had a mortgage payment that was due in like two weeks. That was the next day, I was super excited to head out to this house. I’m driving to where this home is, and getting closer to the area, and it’s kind of around LAX and LA. I’m turning around some streets and I’m noticing that the homes are getting more disheveled as I get closer to this map on my old Thomas guide I was heading to.
Charles Antis: As I turned finally on the street where the home would be, I looked and I just saw a dead grass lawn in this set back small home, like oh geez. I had that feeling like what am I doing here? This is not what I thought I was walking into. I thought maybe that’s not it because it said like 140 1/2 on it, maybe it’s not a whole number. I went and knocked on that door and then three things happened in like three seconds and I’ll set them up for you that sort of changed my fate.
Charles Antis: The first was that the door opened and I remember distinctly seeing a woman’s face that was very tired, exhausted, almost malnourished looking, maybe that’s going too far, but she didn’t look like she was having a great month and this was the mom. As I was going to say hello, the second thing hit me and that was a smell of mildew, but not like a little mildew, like a really big heavy dose of mildew, like unhealthy smell of mildew which caused my face to pull back and recoil. I started to retreat from the house, but literally thinking how I’m going to exit.
Charles Antis: As I’m trying to pull away with this fight or flight mentality almost, the third thing happens and I feel a tug at my finger. What that was was the daughter, the youngest daughter of this family who was about six years old. She had white toe hair blonde hair. I looked down and as she was pulling me in, she had in contrast to her mom and I, this big smile. “Wow, I got visitors,” and I don’t think they had visitors very often. I get pulled through this crowded living room into this, looks like an undersized, maybe like unhealthy skinny hallway. It was a really skinny hallway, I remember going sideways to go through it. Then she turns right and she stands there and she smiles, and she points up to this My Little Pony poster on the wall, so I realize it’s her room. As she looks up, I smell that smell again and I look down and I see four mattresses that she’s standing between that have moldy bedding on them. It kind of caught up to me later that that is where the smell came from. I was in shock.
Charles Antis: It’s kind of a good story when I tell it today. I remember at this moment, it did not feel good. I felt trapped, I felt scared. I wanted to care, but I didn’t think that I could care because there wasn’t enough at that moment. That didn’t feel like I could do anything if I wanted to so I felt trapped. I didn’t say anything and I stayed there in this state of cognitive dissidence until finally the mom walked in again. When the mom walked in, I looked at her face again, which hadn’t changed. I don’t know where it came from but something welled up in me and I looked at her and I just said, “I’m going to take care of your roof.”
Charles Antis: I remember hoping that it just needed patching because I wasn’t really experienced at laying down new system jet. Also, I didn’t think I had the money. I went up on the roof and it was shot. They needed a whole new roof and I was like oh geez. I look back now, this was that cool moment now. I love re shifting through old memories as you get older. Sometimes you see things you couldn’t see when it happened. This was my doctor on an airplane moment. This was that time when there’s a doctor on an airplane and the pilot comes over the intercom and he says, “Passengers, someone’s having a heart attack. Is there a doctor on an airplane?” I believe and I bet most of your audience believes that that doctor is going to raise his hand to help if he can. I also believe and I would bet that most of your audience believes that after the doctor provides that life saving service, I doubt he sends a bill.
Charles Antis: I think this is that moment. This is a really cool thing. In time looking back, we thought that we could do something because we were in the moment and we couldn’t ignore it because if not me, a person that saves roofs, than who? That was a powerful moment. I went up on the roof. I was scared again because I didn’t know if I had enough. I got on the phone and I got six volunteers. I needed volunteers because I didn’t have employees yet. I went out to Home Depot I remember. I didn’t have that strong account yet. I would have been too embarrassed to go to the roofing supply yard and admit I didn’t really know how to put on a system.
Charles Antis: We went and we got a bunch of rolled roofing and a bunch of emulsion and we laid down a layered roof. I remember it was dripping on the outside but that home didn’t leak again and that family stayed in that home. That became a powerful thing for us, but we didn’t know it for a lot of years. It became powerful because we sort of became this company that I would say, before we said that we were keeping families safe and dry, I felt this way. I kept it quiet, but I felt this way. It’s almost like damn, I can’t let anybody have a leaky roof just because they don’t have the money to pay. Sometimes I don’t tell my people but we’re not going to bill for that, but we go get them dry. We’ll go patch them to get them dry.
Charles Antis: I think that what happened, I didn’t know it, but it leaked out that we did that. It leaked out that we did it and I didn’t know it but we were keeping our employees because of it. I didn’t know it, but our employees were high fiving each other at the end of the week because of it. I think it didn’t really start to hit until after our give became more formalized. That happened after a friend of mind nudged me for years to get involved with Habitat. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to donate anymore roofs than I already was. I wasn’t necessarily totally enjoying it yet. Every time there’s a roof give, to this day when we get an ask, it often feels like it’s oh my god, how are we going to pay for it? We learned something with our stories looking back over time, that by being the company that doesn’t say no, by being the company that says maybe, we end up opening up bridges to all sorts of people and organizations internally and externally and our people do stay because of that, as you mentioned.
Charles Antis: Also, if you read data that measures a purposeful employee against one that’s not purposeful, then their work is better. If their work is 30% better, then maybe that’s the reason when we go out and look at these 30 year and lifetime roofs, other than being over spec or improperly specked on life expectancy, but there’s a reason that a lot of roofs that should last 30 years only last 12 or 14 because every part on that roof on that large condo matters. This purposeful component, we didn’t know it, was being plugged into our culture a long time ago. This purposeful component, we didn’t know it was being plugged into our brand. It was being whispered about us that we were trying to make a difference in the community, even before we learned how to talk about it.
Charles Antis: It became the most important thing, but it was disguised in the beginning as a burden that we couldn’t help but not do, kind of the way that maybe my dad raised me to in the moment, do the right thing. I always kind of was struck with that condition. Maybe originally it was fear, like fear of a punishing God, which I don’t live like that anymore. Maybe that was why I did it. Maybe it was like, God, I got to do it, there’s a gun to my head! Somewhere along the line, it flipped into being passionate, purposeful, and actually now that I understand the data, what’s going to make a company thrive in this super adaptive world.
Charles Antis: It actually is very smart business to invest everything you can into your people and into the community because things are only going to get more disruptive and adaptive. It’s really about keeping those soft skills, and keeping empathy, and critical thinking, and emotional intelligence. I’m kind of just throwing a bunch of buzz words in there now but really this new world is going to be so adaptive, we have to train for adaptability and if you’re going to train for being adaptive, you better spend a lot on your culture, you better find a way. I’m speaking far out language to a lot of contractors that are starting under one, or two, or three million because I’m from that and I know I am. You got to try to understand it.
Charles Antis: We’re moving into a world where you hear people as you this, sometimes to me this sounds like such a BS question, sometimes it makes me mad, but I ask it. The questions is, “Hey, Charles, what’s your why?” It’s that Simon Senik question, you have to have a why you exist today or you’re not going to be in business very long. It bothers me when I hear that but that’s something I would tell all your listeners an exercise to play with. What if you, every morning, and I know it sounds silly, but you got up and you made yourself say what’s your why today? And you tried to write it. Here’s the thing, it’s such a new context of thinking that even those of us that talk about it all the time, sometimes it hits us like ah, don’t talk to me, I don’t want to talk about my why!
Charles Antis: I’m trying to talk about a why and that means what does this all mean except for money? Money’s not enough in the new world. It doesn’t matter to clients. Clients need to see what you value and then they trust you based on the alignment with what they value. Here’s the hidden part, on them it’s not a conscious thing. They’re not, “Well, let’s see. They’re into Habitat and I’m into Habitat.” It comes subconsciously. Everyone knows that really understands Habitat that everybody that loves Habitat for Humanity, which I’m on the local board in Orange County. We know we believe this core philosophy that everybody deserves a decent place to live. That resonates through our brand, so trust is built just by seeing the Habitat brand next to the Antis brand. If you’re like our roofing industry, which I’m excited to talk about, that you’ve adopted, there’s 200 companies that have adopted all of the Ronald McDonald houses in the country. We know as roofing professionals that we think it is unimaginable to ignore sick children and that’s why we keep them safe, dry, and close at these homes across the country, all 165 of them.
Charles Antis: These things show up. It’s like in this new world, it’s really weird, but who you are is going to matter more than anything. I know these are all new words, but you have to try to understand it. People need to know you, they need to know your story. It needs to ring with authenticity and there’s a lot of ways that you can build towards that. That’s one of the reasons that LinkedIn is so important. If you were to fill out the whole LinkedIn profile like you said. They’ll tutor you through it, or have your nephew, or daughter, or son do it.
Dave Sullivan: Yeah, call me.
Charles Antis: If you were just to write on there who you donate to, I’m sorry, which school you went to, now everyone knows that you go to ASU for example, you build trust. All of your stories collectively build who you are and that’s how your trusted today.
Dave Sullivan: For those of our listeners that are going, “Yeah, this is all great, but my job is to stay in business, I’m trying to do this.” What you’re talking about is this is also good for business. This is how business should be run and it’s beneficial for your business. That sounds like really how you’ve grown your business and how you’ve had your people involved and this is why you do have that huge retain-age of your employees because they are part of something. Also, I think when we’re talking about bringing in a new generation where so many of us are oh, these guys aren’t worth a crap. Nobody wants to work. I disagree, it’s just different. You’re going to have to take a different approach to recruit and retain this new generation because they want to be part of something. They want to feel that there’s more than just coming in here, and working hours, and getting a paycheck. It sounds like you have done just a fantastic job of this. From what I’m understanding, this is one of the keys to your success, would I be right?
Charles Antis: Yeah. I mean, yeah, I go really deep on stuff. It’s just this shifting world. Everything’s changing so fast. The exciting thing about roofing with the lack of labor and with the technology between robotics and drones, and all of the different apps available, it’s changing drastically. How it’s changing is going to greatly benefit the trade. Although it’s scary to a lot of us that grew up in a time when the biggest change of our childhood was when the rotary phone went to push button. It’s scary, but when you talk about millennials, I was at a family business thing recently and there was an old guy like me, he’s a founder of a business, founded it 30 years ago and his sons work for his company. We were in a breakout session and he was talking kind of like how founders talk. Founders, you know they know everything better than anybody and you have to watch yourself. He was talking and he was complaining about one of his sons. I remember I was worried that his son might hear him at a nearby table.
Charles Antis: He was talking about how, “Yeah, I get up at 3 every morning, and I’m in the office by 5, and I leave at 7 at night.” He talked about his other three sons that did something similar, and he said, “But this guy, you know, he’s probably not in there until 7 and I guarantee you he’s gone by 5.” It was interesting, and I know how he’s thinking, it’s easy to think that way. It’s easy to get in that mindset, but the mindset that I’ll ask you to compare is it could be that son number four is the most brilliant son. We were raised at a time when our fathers and parents did as baby boomers, and this guy’s a baby boomer like me, that if we just do it more, we can get more, but we’re miserable, we’re raping the Earth. I’m not trying to make a political statement, but we didn’t think about the consequences of all our behavior. The new millennials are just asking why? They’re slowing down.
Charles Antis: It’s a different way of thought and at first they seem lazy, I admit it, but as soon as I change my language in my company and I started welcoming millennials, and I did this originally before I believed that. I did it because I realized that they were becoming the majority and I realized if I could change my messaging, I would be able to retain them more. When they came in and asked for things like a 980 getting every other Friday off I’d say, “That’s impossible!” And I would insult them. I didn’t realize no wonder why they wouldn’t stay. Today, we have a 980 because we found a way to do it in the summer that keeps these people happy.
Charles Antis: You know what I realized is that that youngest son, he’s the one who’s building a healthier model. He’s talking about a life balance. Because he’s got a healthier mind, and he’s got a little more sleep, he’s able to build in the newer technology maybe that requires a pause and not just a grind. It’s a different world. We have to economize it differently. All I’m saying is don’t get caught in the midst of doing it the way your father did it because things are really going to change now. Like you said, if you’re not involved in social media, that’s a slow death, you’re just waiting to die. You don’t have to be good at it, but you have to enlist one of your younger relatives to help you have some maintenance where you do a couple of posts a week that somehow shows your people who you are and that your heart continues to tick. It’s not that you necessarily need it in the niche where you’re selling, but things are changing and you have to become adaptable and you have to show your colors.
Charles Antis: One of the weird things I say, Dave, and I have to say weird things because sometimes it gets heard, but it’s like I know people have gone to prison and they’ve told me, and someone especially who didn’t have a lot of past occurrences that when he went to prison he had to join a gang. I went, “No, you didn’t have to join a gang.” Yeah, you absolutely have to join a gang. I eventually learned that if you go to prison and you do not join a gang, you’re a threat to everybody because they don’t know who you are, where you’re from, what you’re aligned with, and therefore, your at risk to be stabbed at any moment. Once you join a gang, it all falls into alignment.
Charles Antis: That sounds a little rough and it is, but the same thing occurs out here socially. Trust is not built unless there is an alignment. That’s why who you belong to, that’s why getting involved with non profits is important. Getting involved in a way long enough where you really do, it’s not just an annual thing that you show up and do, but you have a way that you get involved where you can talk about it authentically a little bit every month, hopefully a little bit every week, and that you can donate your time, and your talents, and your influence on another brand. It’s a really important time to do that because people need to know who you are. Last thing I’ll say on that to make that point, and it’s something that I like to talk about right now, it’s hard to talk about again, but right now everybody’s craving to know who you are in this world and the reason people crave to know who you are other than the prison role thing I kind of already gave is because never in my lifetime have I seen so much spewing of inauthentic things. It’s getting worse before it gets better, or at least that’s the noise we see.
Charles Antis: That’s why you hear about algorithms desperately trying to get built that will vet authenticity. It’s never been more important now. In China, six months ago they announced that they’re going to have a social good scoring system. It’s literally if you’re their version of socially good, you’ll get a bigger house, you’ll get to the front of the line. They’re doing the same thing in Silicon Valley. I’ve got to tell you, there is a currency of social good. You have to show how you’re aligned. It’s not like the old world when I grew up when in bible study, it was like you learned don’t let the left hand know what the right hand’s doing. There’s a lot of people that give roofs to Ronald McDonald House across the country, but they don’t want to talk about it. My job is to tell them, bro, if we don’t talk about it, how is this going to grow? How’s other people going to do it? If Habitat didn’t talk about it and take pictures of you that framed wall going up, it wouldn’t be the largest home builder in the world.
Charles Antis: We’re walking into this world where it is so visual, who you are matters. That photo matters. It’s going to matter more in the next ten years than it matters now. The last thing I’ll say on this is I’m very visual, so imagine you’re sitting in front of your PC and all of us are just literally eraser head sized pictures, we’re like shooting stars darting across your screen in every direction. It’s like that little LinkedIn size eraser head picture of your face, of my face, and we’re all craving to be heard. This is the currency in the new world. Like you, you want to be heard in your podcast. Like me, I want people to hear this thing that will awaken them to greater purpose and passion. If you have a high social goodness score, if you have high social good currency because you’re aligned with authentic things that make the world a better place, then you’re not an eraser head sized dot, shooting star across the PC, you’re a saucer, or a plate, lifting at your own trajectory like a hot air balloon and you’re talking and everybody’s hearing you.
Charles Antis: That’s the world that you’re coming into. I know it’s a different way of talking, but it’s happening. How you are, what is it that you stand for and it’s important. If you stand for social good, people can trust you. If you stand for social good, the people in your company will stay and they’ll be able to lay down a better product. It’s just a really important time to stand for something in a world where people are craving deceit flags and flags they trust. Flags, it’s a metaphor. People trust a little less than they used to. American Red Cross, pretty high trust level, Ronald McDonald House Charities, pretty high trust level, US Chamber of Commerce, pretty high trust level, NRCA, pretty high trust level, Habitat for Humanity, pretty high trust level. Alignment really matters today, especially with involvement.
Dave Sullivan: I love it. I can hear some of our smaller listeners, “We’re just starting off in business, just trying to keep my head above water. What can I do to make a difference? Isn’t this only for large companies that have been around for a long time that can really put out all this money and contributions? Is that all it’s for or can myself, as a smaller guy, can I participate in this?”
Charles Antis: Yes, it’s a great question. I was totally forgetting where I’m from because I didn’t understand any of this. In fact, I didn’t understand it, I didn’t feel adequate, I didn’t feel like I had anything to offer as a roofer that they would want anything, nor did I think it could help my brand in any way. In fact, I felt like if this was ever talked about, I would either look stupid, gullible, or inauthentic, or like I’m trying to pretend to be something I’m not. I wouldn’t want the detractors. Maybe I should stay beneath the radar. I know that thinking. Also, there was no time, there was no money for it, I’m just trying to survive.
Charles Antis: Yes, that’s a great question. I’m going to tell you that the reason that you don’t do it is you don’t have any bandwidth to even study it out. The reason Chevron, who has the largest philanthropy in the world does it, is they have billions of dollars invested into what tells them what matters in the world. They knew 20 years ago that if they did this, they would retain their employees. We just started to figure that out now in the roofing industry, at least in my company. We don’t know it because we don’t know it. It’s out of our sight. The cool news is if you’re a big company, it takes a big spend. If you’re a small company, authenticity shows up a lot easier. When I do panels with the big companies, they tell me, “Bro, you’re lucky.” I used to call myself a CSR. I’m not an expert on social responsibility, I’m a CSR crash dummy. It was the senior VP of Chevron who called me out and says, “Charles, you can’t say that anymore.” Dude, at your company, everyone believes that my company, not everyone’s on board. In fact, he ended up going back to regular HR.
Charles Antis: At a small company, you have an advantage because you can take your 20, 30 guys and you can do a Habitat build that year. You can donate a Habitat roof and have a moment they’ll always remember, and meet the family, and it becomes real. What I’d say to a small company is I’m going to give you a couple of corporate social responsibility. This is for culture and for brand. I call it inside out authentic branding. If it’s just outside it doesn’t work, you need it through your people. First of all, you need a cause that’s near and dear to your heart. It has to be real and it has to make sense with your brand. One of my favorite organization out there is MADD, Mother’s Against Drunk Driving. I’m saying this to make a point. That’s not something that you’d want on your website necessarily everyday unless you were California Highway Patrol, it doesn’t line up well. If you’re throwing a big party and serving to 1,000 people, have MADD there, it fits. Let’s talk about the brand that lifts who you are.
Charles Antis: We’re aligned with Habitat for Humanity. Everyone knows that they build homes for people to give them an affordable house to buy. People also donate time building that. That works with us because it’s one of the most respected brands in the world and we’re providing roofing. It wasn’t us, we did not come up with the slogan, “Antis Roofing, Donating Roofs, Changing Lives.” It was Habitat for Humanity ten years ago where we started donating all the roofs. We donated all the roofs the last ten years. We just hit the million dollar mark along with Eagle Tile. When we started doing that, they said, “Antis Roofing, donating roofs, transforming lives.” I thought at first, don’t say that! That’s blasphemous! It worked. Did some people criticize us? Some of our competitors said, “Ha! Ha! Ha!” I’m exaggerating because I’m defensive because it’s a competitor system. They did, they said that’s a gimmick. What happened was because we were really doing something good, even though we were clumsy in talking about it, the criticism is what really got people’s attention and then people started to pay attention.
Charles Antis: What I’m saying is be on social media, have a cause that’s near and dear to your heart, raise your hand and adopt one of the Ronald McDonald House roofs. We’ll let you in, I’ve got three of them adopted. If you’re in Southern California, yes, you can come donate the annual maintenance with me and if we do a big re-roof let’s line our labor right next to each other just like we did on the first give here at Camp Ronald McDonald House. You have that thing you’re really involved with, it aligns well, and you talk about it a little bit every week. If you do that, your culture will go up, your employees will stay, and the non profit you’re doing for will talk about you if you’re not able to do it for yourself. You need to make sure you’re tied into a solid non profit with a solid leader, with a solid board. If you’re looking at the board, look at those board members, they should have something you want. I’m not talking about money, but they should have the traits that you want to be as a human being.
Charles Antis: Join those boards that are aligned with your purpose, join the committees. You can’t just go walk into a board, you have to be asked, but my point is you get involved and you start donating roofs, you will be asked to be on that committee, you will be asked to be on the board. Then you get to start to sit and think like these other leaders in other great industries in your neighborhood. I can tell you that even though your a roofer and you might see yourself as less, other people see you as those people, those experts that go up on the roof and do what no one else will do, your engineers, your experts, your super heroes. I want you to see yourself higher, get in there because they need your compassion and your big heart, which the roofing industry has the biggest heart and I love that. They need to see that.
Charles Antis: The last thing I’ll say is I know the biggest detractor in this is you don’t feel like you’re enough because until you get involved in these kind of things, you don’t feel like enough. If you feel like you talk about it, that will be insincere. I’m just going to tell you and reemphasize what I said earlier. You need to talk about your business. If you talk about your give, it will not blow up in your face, so long as you’re really giving it. There’s something weird about the world today, because people are craving authenticity is people will sniff it out if it’s not real.
Charles Antis: If you’re really doing it, have no fear. Really do it, talk about it goofy every week. Then have a way that it shows up on your website. Then maybe have a way where you have a recap meeting and talk about the good that you’re doing internally. We might have an all hands on deck meeting and we’ll talk about the good that we’re doing. People share and they breakdown. Sometimes people shed tears and it’s something I didn’t used to see in roofing and now I see it and I got to say, at first it was awkward, but I tell you, it really fits. It’s a big hearted industry. Get involved in the board at the NRCA and you go back to a meeting and they’re passing Kleenexes around. You see these big macho cowboys all around the table trying not to let anybody see us cry. It’s a beautiful industry with beautiful people.
Dave Sullivan: I agree. There’s so many things that can be done on a small scale, on a local scale. We were always involved with, adopted a couple of schools type of thing, some baseball teams that you can sponsor. Start off with some of these smaller things because there’s a ton of them available in your community. Ask your people what they’re interested in. Perhaps there’s a charity they would like to be involved with and you can get everybody involved. It’s a great thing to do. We all need to step up and do more.
Dave Sullivan: Along those lines, the NRCA, let’s give a little plug for the NRCA and what we like about the NRCA. I’ve been a member, still am, for god, I don’t know 40 years or so now probably. Great organization. We’ve got the alliance. You want to give a quick pitch for that?
Charles Antis: Yeah. Roofing Alliance is the giving arm of the NRCA and every member there has made a substantial pledge and we use that money and trust to fund initiatives in the roofing industry to make it better. It was the Roofing Alliance that listened to the pitch by Bill Good to adopt all of the Ronald McDonald Houses across the country. It was in that meeting that we raised our hands and said yes and now we’re taking care of all those roofs. We now, we’re forming partnerships with youth services that are developing youth, bringing skill into the roofing place with sometimes at risk youth. There’s amazing initiatives that have come out of the Roofing Alliance. The reason I’m part of the Roofing Alliance is I went back three years ago looking for the people that really cared.
Charles Antis: I went to the NRCA, I went a day early to the rebuilding Orlando give. This was in the Orlando conference [inaudible 00:54:29]. I showed up because I wanted to meet those people. I knew there had to be people. I showed up. I met Heidi Ellsworth who took me and introduced me to more people. I met Bill Good, all these people. Darrel [inaudible 00:54:41] from [inaudible 00:54:42], all these people that really want to make it a better place. Then I felt such at home when I met these people. They looked at me and they said, “Charles, has the roofing industry been good to you and to your family, and to your people.” I said, “Yes.” They said, “Come back. Give here.” I go, “But Bill, I can’t that’s too much. We do that locally.” He stayed with me and pretty soon we made that pledge.
Charles Antis: It’s like the more we give, I’ve said this, I don’t like to say it as a slogan because if it doesn’t rain, it’s going to be tough to grow that year, but it does feel like the more we give, the more opportunity we have to grow, the better talent we bring in, the better retention rate we have. I believe in that motto, you can’t give too much. It sounds crazy, last year we didn’t have much rain and it was an interesting year. Our sales dropped and our giving went up. We gave almost five points off of what we sold.
Charles Antis: I don’t think that’s a good model. I’m not telling you that to brag or telling you that because it’s the right thing. I think that probably in the whole history of things we erred on the side of giving too much, but what a great place to be. What a great place to be, socially investing in our people in the community in the way that we’re protected in the way that the world is turning to and if we go too far we’ll learn and we’ll be able to share it. We’re really enjoying being a roofing company that feels more like a people company. We’re really invested in our people being their highest selves, and in our communities living their longest life the best we can. It’s something about purpose when you throw it into your conversation, it literally engineers safer and better work.
Dave Sullivan: Yeah. I think start small, but just get started because it does make a difference. Hey, I’m wrapping up. Charles, I can’t let you go before I ask a couple of finishing questions. You run a very successful business. What can you offer our listeners just a couple of tips from the sage here. Any advice you can give for some of our contractors that are just starting off maybe, some of the smaller contractors? Besides social responsibility, what’s really helped your business grow in part of your success?
Charles Antis: I’m going to try to say this. Yeah, I think right now, because of, not from my path where I’ve been, it’s more for the world we’re going in and the path we’re going. If you want to be successful, of course, most of the listeners here are great craftsmen. Craftsmanship is only one part of it, as you know once you start your own business. I think the most important thing is to really be and let your brand be authentically you. Be authentically you. Let you show up, don’t just be a roofer that has the lowest price. Antis Roofing, people know that we care about the community and we care about things and it builds trust. How do you be your you that shows up. This is where I might go a little deep for some people, but I really strongly believe in self assessments.
Charles Antis: Anything that lets you look at you and your people differently. In business if you want to get along, you need to understand business personalities, so anything like a Myers Briggs, or disc assessments, or strength finders, or imperative purpose, or emotional intelligence testing. If you want to be the best you you can be you have to understand yourself. Quickly, I’ll say if you’ve ever done disc scale, a disc basically says, and this is the Charles Antis interpretation, but it says, I’m going to give you a quick analogy. If you get a disc analysis, this is how I’d say it, if you were an animal surviving in the jungle, you would survive one of these four ways or maybe two of these four ways.
Charles Antis: Either one, you’d be the dominant alpha, if you’re stronger than everybody and fight them, you’ll survive. Number two, you’ll be popular, if all the other animals like you they won’t kill you. The third and most common is the middle of the pack, if I stay in the middle of the pack, I won’t get picked off. Or four, you’ll be the most cautious, I’ll only travel at dawn. If you understand which of those two dominant styles you have. Me, I know I need to be popular and sometimes I need to be in control, I need to be dominant.
Charles Antis: Once I knew who I was by taking that assessment, I stopped being embarrassed for wanting to be the center of attention. The first time I took a disc analysis with a visage group, a bunch of business owners, the other CEO looked at me and said, “Ha! Ha! Charles, you’re a high I. You want to be the center of attention!” I said, “No I don’t!” Then I quickly assessed and go, “Yeah, yeah. I guess I do.” Once I said, “Yes, I do,” I understood myself better. I understood why I was better at sales and why I was better at customer care and why I was better at marketing than managing the job. You’ll understand your skills. I can hire a really good job manager. If you want to be successful, understand you, understand your people and you’ll learn how to talk to each other.
Charles Antis: Then I want you to go deep on who you are. Whatever that means, go deep on who you are, it’s going to matter more in the future than it does now. It’s got to show up in your brand. On your LinkedIn, it should not only have your college, but it should show the clubs that you belonged to. I’m only going to make this point one time, but the clubs that you show will serve you better if they’re clubs that everybody feels that they’re invited to. The club being Habitat for Humanity is going to have a higher club version than maybe a political action club. I would stay away from politics on your brand. Politics should not show up on your brand unless you live in a 90% community where it leans one way.
Charles Antis: Then, last thing, I said it earlier, if you’re in business just to make money over the next decade, pack it up now, it’s not going to work. You have to have a why. You have to have a story. Tell your story. I can’t say that with enough emphasis, even though I probably didn’t give it enough emphasis. You heard my stories today, you know why I’m in business, you know I didn’t have a plan when I started. You know that what mold smells like in relation to me because we smelt it together today. I have a story telling coach so that’s why I’m talking about story like this. I understand story a little more than I did three years ago. I can tell you this, nobody remembers data.
Charles Antis: I know this is counterintuitive, but this is another one of those things that smart sociologists will tell you, stories are 30 times more memorable than data. If you’re going to give data, give one point. Say we have a 91% retention rate. That’s the only thing you’re going to remember about Antis Roofing is the 91% retention rate, but you’re going to remember the stories, you’re going to remember those stories. Tell stories and your brand will be remembered and it will matter in the community and if you matter in the community you’ll be around.
Dave Sullivan: Totally agree with you, Charles. That differentiation that you’re talking about that is separating you out from your competition. You can see that. You’re clear on your position, your culture of your company and that’s what makes it different. You got a great organization. Love the stories, you’re so right about that. People remember and love to hear stories. Charles, I know you’re going to be speaking at The Best of Success Conference. That’s going to be September 15, 16 down in I believe Miami. Everybody should really check that out. I’ll be going down there so I’ll have a chance to say hi. Get involved. Get involved with NRCA, get involved with your local communities, local organizations, it’s all a great thing. Charles, for our listeners that want to get more information about you and get in touch, how would they do that?
Charles Antis: Great, I’d love that. I’m active on LinkedIn. I probably do three or four posts a week and my posts would center on non profit and industry related purposeful best practice stuff. I would love if you followed me or reached out to me on an in mail on LinkedIn. Let me tell you my email address as well. My email address is Charles@antisroofing.com, that’s A-N-T-I-S.
Dave Sullivan: That’s great. Go check out their website because it’s a great site, it will give you some good information on how to run a good business with a clear message. Charles, great talking to you and we’ll see you soon.
Charles Antis: Thanks, Dave.
Dave Sullivan: That’s it for the show today. I really appreciate everybody listening. If you have a chance to leave me a review on iTunes, that really helps get the show out there, gets the word out, and I would really appreciate it. Until next week, we’ll see you on The Roofer Show.