Welcome to the latest episode of The Underdog Show! Our guest today is Chris Lalomia, a renowned expert in home remodeling and customer service. He is not only an experienced entrepreneur, but also a published author, podcaster, and the founder of The Trusted Toolbox and The Home Service Institute. In this episode, Chris will take us through his journey from corporate life to entrepreneurship, sharing valuable insights and lessons he learned along the way. He will discuss how he overcame challenges during a startup in a recession, managed cash flow, and built a winning team. Join us as we learn from his 15 years of experience in the industry.
Join us as we follow Chris’s path from corporate success to entrepreneurship in home services. He’s the expert to consult if you’re considering starting your journey.
In this episode, Pamela and Chris tackled the following:
- Chris’s inspiration leading to his journey today and the story behind his book From Zoo to the Wild
- Chris had a successful career but felt unhappy and unfulfilled. What did he do to fix it?
- The key to building a successful business despite the recession
- The lessons Chris learned from entrepreneurship
- The advice Chris will tell his younger self based on what he knows now
- The future of construction and trades
- What’s coming up with Chris in the next few months
Listen to this exciting episode. Join us for the conversation! Listen to the full episode here:
- Apple iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/underdog/id1534385651
- Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/6FbSDu0aNtuxAEiderUAfB
- Website: https://theunderdogshow.com
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Catch up with Chris Lalomia here:
- Website: https://www.chrislalomia.com
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrislalomia
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chrislalomia
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/customerservice.freak
- Book: https://www.chrislalomia.com/zoo
The Underdog Podcast host is none other than Pamela Bardhi. She’s rocking the Real Estate Realm and has dedicated her life as a Life Coach. She is also in the Forbes Real Estate Council. To know more about Pam, check out the following:
- Website: https://pamelabardhi.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pamela_bardhi
- TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@pamela_bardhi
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@elevatethroughrealestate
Our goal is to help you create the life you dream of through real estate. We’re giving value-packed masterclasses on our YouTube Channel – Elevate Through Real Estate. Make sure to subscribe at https://www.youtube.com/@elevatethroughrealestate.
Click To Read The Transcript
Chris Lalomia’s Journey to Entrepreneurial Freedom and Breaking Free from the Golden Handcuffs
Hi, I’m Kevin Harrington, an original shark from the hit television show Shark Tank, and you’re listening to the Underdog podcast. All we know is over time barking like the Underdog. Underdog, underdog, underdog, underdog.
Pamela Bardhi: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Underdog podcast. Today I’ve got an incredible guest here with me. Chris, how are you, my friend?
Chris Lalomia: I’m doing great. Looking forward to it.
Pamela Bardhi: Oh, man, I’m looking forward to you and hearing your story and all of your awesomeness. My goodness. Where do we start with you, Chris? You do so many different things. I’m like, how did he get so motivated and inspired in this?
What inspired you to start your own business at 17
Pamela Bardhi: So I’ll start you off with that for my first question. What inspired you, actually on your path today?
Chris Lalomia: Yeah, it’s a great question. My inspiration came probably, when I was 17. I said I’ve always wanted to run my own business. Then I got stuck in the corporate jungle in the zoo. and I was just behind the bars. but I was making a lot of money and got intoxicated with all that money. they were throwing my way, and I finally said, no. I think there’s more I got to do before I, retire and call it good.
So people people say it’s scary starting a business. I was more scared of not starting one and then being 60 years old going. man, I just wonder if I could have so that really got me motivated. And then I started, a handyman business. which is now a handyman and remodeling business here in, metro Atlanta called The Trusted Toolbox.
But I felt like I had more to give. so I went ahead and wrote a book called from the Zoo to the Wild. And I got a podcast going and thinking about what’s next. We, actually have a training company where we train other home service companies as well. So as people say, I’m like a hummingbird. I run around quite a bit and can’t figure out if I ever sleep. But trust me, I do sleep.
Pamela Bardhi: I love it. Chris oh, man. We’ve got our trace back some roots on this one.
What did you want to be when you grew up
Pamela Bardhi: So, as a like, what did you want to be when you grew?
Chris Lalomia: You know, that’s a great question. I grew up in Michigan, and all I knew was the car companies. and I went to work in high school, for a machinist company. I started as the grunt, on the labor line. just doing whatever had to be done. And then, the guy that I worked for said, I think you should not go to college. You should just come work for me, and you can do this. You can eventually run your own machine shop.
My dad’s like, I think a better idea, budy, is that you go on to colleg. because, he was the first one in our family to go to college as well. So I did that. But, I’ve always loved being an entrepreneur. I’ve always really admired that. My grandfather and my grandmother were both entrepreneurs in Buffalo, New York. being the first ones born here from Italy. Having a, grandmother who was an entrepreneur. that was very avant garde back in the which is pretty cool.
Pamela Bardhi: That’s incredible. In the she was doing that.
Grandmother and my grandfather were very inspirational
Chris Lalomia: Yeah. She, had her own hair salon. but she also made there’s a special niche in the Catholic Church. where they have these infants of Prague. and, there’s some really fancy ornate dresses that they put on the little baby Jesus. Well, she made them.
And as I found out later in life, after she had passed away, and I was, in North Carolina. And I found out that she was one of the only people who made these things over the years. So these things are pretty unique, but yeah, she was a pretty amazing lady.
Pamela Bardhi: What? So she had her own business in the that time, women weren’t even allowed to vote.
Chris Lalomia: Right, right. I know. my whole family took it for granted until, I wrote the book. And then I was explaining to everybody that, my grandmother and my grandfather were very inspirational for me. My dad did not go, start his own business.
He went the corporate route and said, hey, I’m just going to do this. because I need to provide for my family. And I said, I’ve always wanted to go out there and run out there. and see what this jungle is all about. Of running your own business.
Pamela Bardhi: Yeah. Oh, my so, and you grew up in Detroit, so all you knew was, like, the car?
Chris Lalomia: That’s all I knew. So when you said, hey, what did you want to do when you grew up? I knew I couldn’t play sports at the highest level. so I didn’t say I want to play football. I did get a chance to play in college, which was cool. but I knew I was never going to make the NFL, so I never had those aspirations.
But, you know, I think I want to be an engineer. My dad was a civil engineer, so I rebelled and became a mechanical engineer. And again, I thought I would be in manufacturing and eventually run my own business. And here I am, not in manufacturing at all. Working on people’s houses and have 44 employees now. Not doing a thing with that part of my degree. but, definitely solving problems, which is a blast.
Pamela Bardhi: That, is awesome. Oh, my goodness.
How did you get into the corporate and then kind of transition out
Pamela Bardhi: So walk me through the corporate route for you. How did you get into the corporate and then kind of transition out?
Chris Lalomia: Yeah, I think, like a lot of people’s careers, it’s not very linear. I was all over the board. I graduated from college. and I went on and got my master’s degree in mechanical engineering in Charlote, North Carolina.
North Carolina Charlote, which is now called Charlote. a, small program where I felt like I could take some of those ideas. And I was always trying to figure out a business I could start. I got hired, got a job working in manufacturing. but it was aerospace manufacturing.
So I was like, man, that’s really cool. It’s not just cars, I’m doing planes, man, look at me, I’m solid. And then I said, man, I got to get more business experience. And, this is now I’m old. So to find a job back when I was around. you either found somebody, knew somebody.
or you looked in the classified ads of the paper on Sundays. And, my wife said, Why don’t you go look at Anderson? And I thought, Anderson only made windows for Anderson Windows. She goes, no, Anderson Consulting. I was like, oh, but I’m not a consultant.
I started my business
She goes, no, they train you to be a consultant. So I went to work for Anderson Consulting. which is now a company called Accenture. And I started working in banks as a fixit guy, using that stuff. So I got into banking. which eventually led me to a bank in Atlanta called SunTrust, which is now truest. And I became the Commercial Loan operations manager. I was 33 years old.
I had 400 people working for me, and I had left consulting and had that gig. and, I was pretty successful. I don’t say that to brag, I say that that’s what kept me going. That’s what kept me like, hey, I got to stay in here. I’m getting fed a lot of money. I’ve got 400 people. Yeah, man, I had custom suits, I had my Mercedes, I was styling and profiling and going.
And then I finally looked up and said. man, I hate what I’m doing and I’m not starting my own business. I always said I would, and here I am, 37 years old, and I didn’t do it. So that’s when I started my business and I left it. But I built the business plan. But I started right in 2008. And if you remember 2008, we all do. it was the big recession.
And, it smoked me when I first started because it slowed me down. I figured I’d be recession resistant. and that’s true, but it wasn’t recession proof. There are still people who did not want to work on their houses. because they didn’t know if they’d have a house or a job.
So eight, nine and ten were pretty tough. but I did grow through there, but I stuck to it. I had a lot of sleepless nights. my wife even came to me and said, what are you doing? What are you doing to the family? I think maybe it’s time to give it up. And I said no. I’m going to make this happen. And here I am, 15 years later, an overnight success.
Pamela Bardhi: Wow, chris, that’s amazing. Well, because where you were hyper successful. and you got all the things. all the things that somebody would want. You had it right there in the palm of your hand. managing 400 people, living the dream, right. According to what society says, right.
Chris Lalomia: the society dream. I mean, country, club, community, second home, had a boat, the nice car, the custom suit. all looked good from the outside. But my family, to tell you, I was miserable to be around. I, wasn’t happy. And I would take it out and I would be a pretty surly individual. and I wasn’t as happy go lucky as I really am. I wouldn’t say carefree, but I like to have some fun. As one of my budies says, I’m the angriest, happy guy he’s ever seen.
Running a business: Chris’s big mark
But yeah, I did. I think that’s where I really, dove into what does success look like? And I said, when I’m m 60 years old. do I really want to say that I worked at a bank and did this? And I just stayed there and just retired and was able to have fun. take all these great vacations and do all these really awesome things.
But I never knew if I could run my own business. because for me, that was the big mark. I really wanted to see if I could. And they say that nine out of ten businesses fail. I wanted to be one of those one. I want to be the one. And, it was tough. but we’re here, and, now it’s going pretty well.
Pamela Bardhi: I love that. I love that.
How did you break from that and come to awareness of starting a business
Pamela Bardhi: And for anybody listening thing, Chris, that might be in this state, right, where they are, it’s what do they call it? The golden, handcuffs.
Chris Lalomia:Yep, the golden handcuffs.
Pamela Bardhi: And they know they want to start something, but how do you do. So, like, how did you break from that. and come to the awareness of, like, f this I hear you.
Chris Lalomia: And f is my favorite word. I tell you what I did is I started to surround myself with other people who I wanted to be. Like, they had their own businesses. Either their families had started it, or they started it themselves.
And I just started grabbing coffee with them and going out. maybe getting a drink after work with them. find them on the golf course, or just find them when I could. and just started talking to them about ideas. it’s not the idea. I think it’s more about the fusion. that’s what I found, was I built my business plan. I didn’t make it for the A paper man, did it so I could figure out. was this thing actually going to work?
You’ve got a market
Because in every business, number one, you’ve got to come, up with a unique selling proposition. You’ve got a market, you got to find out who your market is. You got to advertise to them. They got to come to you. You got to figure out how to convert them. Then you got to figure out how to provide the product or service for them. Right. Well, all that stuff wrapped together. I needed that because, again, I’m a pretty humming kind of guy. And I also had a nine to five job.
And it really wasn’t nine to five with more like seven to seven. and I was doing this stuff all after hours trying to figure it out. The business plan kept me on track. then I also could show people, hey, I went to a marketing guy. I said, hey, man, how would you market this kind of business? he goes, wow, here’s what I would do. I would do this, I would do that. Went to an operations guy and said. how would you scale once, ah, you got started?
This is how we did it
And he said, well, this is how we did it. And I just kept picking up pieces like that. Again, not going for that perfect a paper. Then I put a target out there that on April 2 of 2008. I was leaving, come hell or highwater. because I had some options that were going to vest. I had a, nest egg, my family.
I had ramped on our savings for a year and a half to build up some savings. And then I had my levels of funding. which, thank God, I’d never touched my retirement money. So if I can make it to 62, I’m all right. Now, the ODS of me making it there a little low. That’s why I joke around. But yeah.
Pamela Bardhi: Wow. Oh, my goodness.
How did you start your handyman business during the recession
Pamela Bardhi: And so you gave yourself a timeline and basically surrounded yourself with the right people. And then how did you actually jump in? Did you quit right away and then start it, or kind of start it? Because I know people that do both, though I’d be interested to hear it.
Chris Lalomia: This is a great question. So one of the things, and I put this in my book that I was told is that. I said, man, I think I’m just going to keep my job at the bank. because I’m making so much money. and I’ll just run this handyman business on the side. And the guy says, if you’re halfway in, you’ll be all the way out. He said, you’ll never make it happen.
And he’s right, because with the recession, everything that happened. if I would have been able to keep my job. which, again, I had transitioned at that point to, being the reporting guy. And I was doing all of the reporting for our quarterly reports. Pretty cool. But he’s right. I would have shelled it and probably not kept going. So I was all the way in the funny story is, I had built my marketing plan.
My advertising strategy.
I built my advertising strategy. I knew what I was going to do. One of the things I did was I advertised in the Bulletin of our Catholic Church that we went to. and I agreed to go, and I said, okay, sign up. Do it right. April 2 I quit. And when I quit, my boss said, well, you can’t leave me. Can you at least stay on for one month? So I did, but I forgot that I had told the Bulletin to go.
And so that Sunday, we’re at church, and I’m looking. and in the back of the bulletin is the trusted toolbox for all your home repair needs 770-62-3097. Guess what I didn’t have? I didn’t have a phone to answer those calls. So I had to raft to church, grabbed the family. went to Best Buy, bought a phone, stuck it in my house where I had that line. I just didn’t have the phone with the voicemail. or the ability to transfer it to myself.
Pamela Bardhi: My God, that’s hilarious.
Chris Lalomia: So I jumped in, full force. That’s right.
Pamela Bardhi: That is hilarious. Oh, my God, I love that. And then it just started building up from there pretty much at that point.
I didn’t want to give up
Chris lalomia: Which is yeah, it was a slower build. It probably was a good thing in hindsight to start. when you think a recession is going to happen. which here we are, talking in 23, and the ODS are that. we’re already starting to see the economy pull back a little bit. A, lot of people say a lot of jobs or a lot of companies were started during COVID. But my big thing for everybody is that the business plan that helped me start my business.
but that helped me keep my business. because I went back to it every year and kept back looking at it. tweaking figuring out what I could do, do a little bit different. And then a lot of times, like I said, it was just. maybe I should give this thing up. I don’t know. it was tough, and I learned a lot about myself. I’m pretty optimistic. I’m pretty resilient, or aka. Hard headed.
And I just didn’t want to give up on it. I felt like it would be a failure. looking back on it now, it’s not a failure. It wouldn’t have been a failure. you could plant the flag and say, you did it. All right, go find another one. and go find something else you could do and make it better. So that’s why I would say, go do it earlier the better.
Especially when you’re young and you don’t have family and commitments. Because I had built up a family that was kind of addicted to cash flow. Kids were in private school. We had a lot of activities going on. We went on really cool vacations, and I had to pull all that back for a year. and we actually pulled back for about four years. Really? And my wife kept her job and had a great job. and so we lived off, her income.
Pamela Bardhi: Wow. Oh, my goodness. Well, because that’s the thing. Golden handcuffs, right. And kind of letting go of that security, if you will.
Chris Janssen says being around him was miserable at that point
Chris Lalomia: That’s so interesting.
Pamela Bardhi: So, for you, you had mentioned you’re, like, I was super successful. but being around me was miserable at that point in time. It was how did you come to that level of awareness there. Because some people continue that for their whole life. Chris, how did you break free from that? Was there something that happened, or how did you get there?
Chris Lalomia: I really started to get jazzed up about the idea. and then when I got the family bought, into it. So my kids were younger, but my wife, who again, I was making a good bit of money. And I keep saying that because obviously, money can’t buy happiness. but it can buy you a boat. Chris Janssen, the country singer, but she said, well, finally she read the business plan.
I was miserable to be around
She goes, all right, if you believe it, and this is what you’re thinking, then let’s do it. Now, of course, my performer said I’d be breaking even in 16 months. I’d be making a million dollars in five years. Here I am 15 years later. And, guys, I’m not making a million dollars. Can promise you that. But I am a lot happier now than I ever been, doing what I’m doing. So it was hard. I wouldn’t say I was self realized.
I was told that I was miserable to be around. and I was also told that if this is going to make you happy and you think you can go do this. then why don’t you go scratch the itch and go make it happen? so we had some plans, and we had some failbacks. again, on the money, pretty much. And, today, now I’m able to actually pull my weight, as she says.
Chris Gruce talks about giving up everything to start a business
Pamela Bardhi: Love that Chris. Thank you so much for sharing that. It’s always fascinating to hear how the transitions went. and then these moments of self actualization and awareness of. like, hey, I’m not where I’m supposed to be. And it’s interesting how those come along. Because this perfect example of this is what society tells you. that success is deep down, you’re not feeling that. Because it’s miserable.
Chris Lalomia: Yeah, I think that’s the big thing. And it’s, one of those things that’s easy to say, hard to execute. because everybody says, well, that’s not what my definition of success is. I mean, you got to do it, man. You got to do that vision board. And if you expect to have a private jet and a place on the beach. that’s, a $15 million house, if that’s it, then, man, write that down.
But I will tell you, if your definition of success is you got all the people reporting to you. and you get those custom suits and the Mercedes. and outwardly it looks great. but inwardly you’re just kind of rotting. that’s where you got to find out that you really aren’t successful, man. You’re doing what other people want you to do.It’s really tough. when you’re rotten from the inside out. it starts to show itself. that’s what oh, thank you, Chris.
My wife: She felt like she was trapped
Pamela Bardhi: Thank you so much for sharing. Truly, it’s truly fascinating how society paints a certain the crazy part is. how do you give that up, if you will.
Chris Lalomia: That part was hard. and I would tell you, a lot of people say. so my wife had a job, the family wasn’t going to go under. now, I did remortgage the house, okay? But I didn’t touch retirement money. That was the agreement. I had built up the savings, savings first, mortgage. the house, second, use, that to start the business and do all that. But she had a good job.
And I will tell you, one of the things that happened. she felt like she was trapped and she was the breadwinner. and felt like I was out there having this fool’s folly. trying to start a business. So the strain there became an extra different strain. that’s a tough one, because if I was the only income. then I would have had to give it up quickly. probably gotten back to just bringing an income.
Build a business plan and show me you can execute it
But we had gotten it down pretty well. And like I said, it’s tough. It is a tough call, which is why when I talk to younger people. if you got a great idea, that’s one thing. Build a business plan and show me you can execute it, then do it. And my recommendation is, if you can, man, make it happen. You’re 24, you’re 25, you don’t have kids. or you don’t have a wife, you don’t have a husband or whatever.
And you can just do this and you can, see if it’s going to fly. The downside is you just have to go, oh, well. I can’t make my rent payment or my house payment and I got to go back and get a job. Okay. Is that failure? Yeah, to a lot of people. Well, guess what, man? Nine out of ten businesses don’t make it. There’s a lot of company there, my friends. So jump in, let’s go make it happen. But find out that earlier on in life. I think it’s still cool.
Pamela Bardhi: Absolutely, chris, I love that. I love that.
In building your business, what have been some of the biggest lessons learned
Pamela Bardhi: And in building your business is throughout these past 15 years. what have been some of the biggest lessons that you’ve learned?
Chris Lalomia: Well, it does lessons. Yeah, definitely, lessons learned in my business. It takes people to scale. I mean, I need to people people. And I always felt, and still do feel like I’m a good leader of people. But it is hard in this business that we’re in, it’s hard in every business. to scale up with good people and to do that. So that’s always number one, making sure I had enough money to make it through. I, had to have the funds.
That was a big thing, because if I didn’t have it. I was at one point, I had an American Express card. I was maxed out. Done. No more money left in the, mortgage on the loan. Done. And I was looking at not being able to make payroll. And then I would have really been done. because people don’t work for you for free. There are some stories out there that will.
But in 15 years, I never missed payroll. because I went running to get one check. from a lady who was holding out. And I went and got it from her at 04:00, got to the bank at 425. got it in the bank and made payroll on Friday. And that was an inflection point. So, even after 15 years, just as early as a year and a half ago. I had a cash flow issue where we just hadn’t collected on some stuff.
Cash is king.
People say, man, I can’t wait to be in your position. and not have to worry about cash. I’m like, Brother, it happens still. And I’m still worried about it. So those are a lot of the lessons there. Cash is king. You got to get those, but you got to stay optimistic. and you got to stay resilient. that’s the hard part. Solve those problems.
Pamela Bardhi: Yes, absolutely. And then cash flow is king. So that’s the main reason why businesses fail is because financial forecasting.
Chris Lalomia: Exactly.
Pamela Bardhi: Right. If you aren’t keeping up with your accounts receivable, accounts payable. and really having somebody on the books, like, the numbers are everything. And it was the least favorite part of business for me.
Chris Lalomia: Yeah, I hate doing it, too, but that’s why I have people doing it now. And we have controls in place. so I can see exactly where we’re at. But I don’t have to be the one making those phone calls. although I do have to make a couple of phone calls here. Coming up.
And again, after 15 years, I’m not as involved as I used to be in the business. now I do a lot more of the training. which is why we developed the Home Service Institute training. is that we’re really focused on that and building the skills in our teams. to make sure that they can do it. But I’m still involved in the day to day.
Pamela Bardhi: Yeah, absolutely.
How did you branch out from your business? So, like, scaling it
Pamela Bardhi: So how did you branch out from your business? So, like, kind of scaling it, starting the handyman business. and kind of now expanding into the Institute. and then we can get into your book as well. Love to hear some more details on that.
Chris Lalomia: Yeah, what I realized, as I built the business, I also built the process. And, we have an operations manual. today I have 44 employees. And what they do is we have a handyman division and we have a remodeling division. then we also have a division in Athens, Georgia. which is about an hour and a half away from here. to prove that we can run a remote operation as well.
So I’ve got a manager and an employee up there. and we’re hoping to get scaled up to three or four here pretty shortly. But we realized we were in the trading business. because that’s where we focus. I have a real, I have real passion for training. and I realize building skills in your team allows. you freedom allows me freedom for time.
Allows me freedom from not having to deal with some of the nuances. In fact, they joke that the, business runs a lot better. when I’m not there and I’m on a podcast with you. They’re enjoying this. That I don’t have my phone on me. or I’m not sitting in the office going after them.
Pamela Bardhi: Oh, my God, I love that.
Chris, what are some myths about the construction industry that you bust
Pamela Bardhi: Well, because you’re in, the construction industry. which is one of the toughest ones, I’ve, been in development for ten years now. and licensed general contractor myself. I have seen the inefficiencies, operational inefficiencies. and how terrible Subcontractors are with their money, with their budgeting.
It’s like they’re paying Paul, they’re paying Sam to pay Paul. It’s just like the craziest thing ever. So what are some myths that you can bust on the industry. and what are some valuable lessons that you’ve learned? Because what you’re doing is to find success in the construction industry is definitely something to be honored.
Chris Lalomia: Thank you. I like that. But I would tell you that you actually hit on one thing subcontractors. So how many times have we heard, can’t make it today? My car broke down. If I knew that all those cars were broken down, I’d have an automotive shop right now. because I’d be in just in business.
But I think we all know that that’s really not always the truth. so, yeah, what you have to do, you have to make it so they want to work with you. and they want to continue to work with you. So with our guys, the Subs we use in the remodeling side. now I have employees on the handyman side, and I did that. And it’s an expensive model. It costs more. We’re one of the higher priced handyman companies out there.
With Subcontractors, you can still have some control
But I can also control the quality. So employees, you can have control. With Subcontractors, you can still have some control. but what you found is that these guys just don’t have the same business mindset. You just brought that. Up. They don’t have cash as king. They have cash as king to go to the bar that night. to go maybe go buy something they shouldn’t be. or go out there and buy that big new truck.
Because says, if you look at my truck and look at some of my Subcontractors truck. you’ll see why I’ve been at it for 15 years. And I’m all right, because I buy a new one, but then I move it into the fleet. But all of mine are utility vehicles. so, I mean, I have a pickup truck. and you see some of these other ones.
So there are good trades out there. And what’s funny is that we keep saying there’s nobody in the trades. They’re all aging out. I found an article, and the article said the same thing. And the article was written in 1968. So this isn’t changing. It’s just part of what we have.
Pamela Bardhi: Well, it’s fascinating because it’s an industry that you can pretty much walk into six figures. If you go in full time without a degree.
One of our core principles is be an artist today.
Chris Lalomia: You walk in, you don’t drop six figures to go get a degree. You get paid to learn And then you come out. and you can be an HVAC technician, you can be a plumber, you can be an electrician. My carpenters do very well. not quite six figures, but, it’s there. And they are allowed to use their brain and use their, mindset.
And then you look out, and today they’re outside. working outside, not sitting in some cubicle. thinking about how they can just crush that computer. because they’re so miserable. So these guys love being out there, and that’s a really cool thing. And that’s what I really play to them. One of our core principles is be an artist today.
Pamela Bardhi: Yeah, I love that. Because it’s all about the craft. If you’re passionate about it, you’ll absolutely love, love it. Chris. I love that.
Your new book is called From the Zoo to the Wild your Guide to entrepreneurship
Pamela Bardhi: And so tell me a little bit about your book, too, without spoiling it too much. because I want people to go out there and get it. But fill me in on that.
Chris Lalomia: Yeah. So it’s called from the Zoo to the Wild. your Guide to entrepreneurial freedom and wealth. it starts out with me, and I was in the zoo. I was getting fed those bananas, and I was feeling good. and I was making all that money. I came to the realization when I saw a gorilla in a zoo. And I was taking my kids through to show them off. you look at he’s in this four walled concrete and plastics, glass cell.
And I went, wow, you’re this big tough. And I call him the king of the jungle, even though I know it’s a lion. But I sit walking away, going, look at that poor thing. I went, oh, my God. I am that poor thing. So I talk about my journey. how I built my business plan and lessons learned a lot of stories in there. I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback on it. It’s a pretty easy read. I’d say.
The wolf pack.
It’s a great compliment, book for somebody looking to start or scale a business. It is, of course, geared to the home service industry. But I think lessons and I call them the gold nuggets coming out of there. Because one of the concepts I have in the book is that I go hire wolves. And they’re lone wolves. And used to doing work on their own. And they’re not used to working for a guy or a company.
Or a person. And so when I bring them in, I have to tell them that we’re inviting you into our wolf pack. and in your wolf pack, you can do better. but we still expect you to do the same things you were doing before and taking care of business. so we talk about that. that’s how the Home Service Institute was started. was really helping to train your lone wolves. make them part of your wolf pack.
Pamela Bardhi: I love that. The wolf pack.
Chris Lalomia: Yeah. Lisa the bravado. I have had some handy women over the years. but most of my employees are men. Well, in the office, I have a number of ladies, but love that.
Pamela Bardhi: Chris oh, my goodness. I love that. And I love all the nuggets that you’ve dropped.
What would your older self tell your younger self based on what you know now
Pamela Bardhi: And I’ve got to ask you, this is, like, my favorite question, honestly. What would your older self tell your younger self based on what you know now? Could be business, personal, anything like that.
Chris Lalomia: Do it earlier. Take that chance early on. I had an idea for a different business completely when I was 24, coming out of grad school. And, looking back on it now, I should have taken a shot. I didn’t know everything. but knowing what I know now, I would have told myself. go out there and find it. the Internet had not really been very well developed at all.
This is 1996, right? 94. So there was no such thing as the Internet. I was working on the first version, by the way, of, email, because in our grad schools. we were going back and forth between peoples in England and Germany. and we were using the thing called, we had email addresses. They were EDUs. and you had messages that you could go back and forth and trade.
So we had all these things sitting in front of me. all these great ideas, all these awesome things. And guess what? I took advantage of none of it. So I would say, go back there, man. Take a look, keep your eyes open. and find those mentors and find that flock early on of people who are like minded.
It was staring right at me.
And you might be able to find a business and maybe make a run out of it. and becomes a multimillion dollar business. maybe it just doesn’t happen. maybe you don’t even get to sell it. You just got to shut it down. You learned, and you can go on, and you did. All right.
Pamela Bardhi: Love that, Chris. Thank you so much for sharing that, my friend. I love it. And I always say I’m like man, and this is me complaining about dial up Internet. and having to text on the T nine. here you are. You’re like, I worked on the first version of email. Humbled me a little bit.
Chris Lalomia: Yeah, it was staring right at me. But no, I didn’t look at that. No, I’m not going to go make parts. Yeah, a lot of great ideas sitting right in front of me. And, I look back on it now. I love it, that we do it. But I’m trying to keep my eyes open now with all this. because obviously we’re just shifting so quickly, and we always will. That’s not going to slow down AI.
What do you think is the future of AI when it comes to construction
Pamela Bardhi: So what do you think, in your opinion. is going to be the future of AI when it comes to construction. and the trades and all of that? What are your thoughts on that? Because I feel like there’s going to be so much integration. and it’s literally, like, shifting stuff by the day.
There’s new apps coming out every single friggin day. Like, I saw one with the, interior designers. You send a picture of a room into AI. And it automatically recreates and does the remodeling for you visually. Have you seen that?
Chris Lalomia: I’ve heard of that one. It’s funny you should say that. I just heard of that yesterday, Gary.
Pamela Bardhi: So you upload the photo of whatever it is that you want to remodel. and it shows you, like, a remodeled version, and it’s sick. And I was like, Dang, what is this going to do for interior designers?
Chris Lalomia: I think you’re onto something there, I agree with you. I think the, home service industry in general will start a consolidate. it’s already happened in HVAC. It’s, going to start a consolidation trend in all the major metros. Because right now, in our world. we are I’m not going to get into the boomer Gen X, millennial, Gen Z thing.
You always need the hands
Everybody is going to more outsourcing of things. around their house, fixing things, remodeling things. It’s, an outsourced model, and it will continue. because people realize they can take their money and take their time. and their happiness and not have to deal with a drywall repair that takes you all weekend. So I think the consolidation and that’s going to come in the form of automation. of request taking, automation of, information giving.
And if you’re not on the forefront of that. if you’re just going to kind of play off sticky notes. and just go word of mouth because always got me where I’m at. You’re going to be left behind. I think that’s going to be big. There’ll always be room for the one individual young or that one lone wolf. but in general, what’s going to happen is. if you’re not part of a bigger team in a major metro. you’re probably going to get squeezed out if you’re in the middle, right.
Pamela Bardhi: Get wiped out. That’s so fascinating to hear because the trades will always be the trades. You always need the hands. But what things that are coming out now. like manufactured housing and shipping home containers. and tiny homes and all of that stuff. which is my arena of what I’m stepping into next.
Go to that big AI in the sky called Google
I’m like, oh, man, you guys better get ready. because when these factories are laying these things out. I think that’s almost like a consolidation. like what you said. I feel like it’s going to be working smarter, not harder, kind of thing.
Instead of taking, a year, year and a half for a site to be built from the ground up. you just have it ready and dropped and boom. I think that’s where the world is heading in terms of construction. And it’s like staying ahead of that people. You heard it here first.
Chris Lalomia: That’s right. That’s good stuff. Yeah, I think that’s what’s going to happen. because, getting squeezed out in the middle means you’ll go for your friend’s recommendation. for a handy person or a remodeler. But what’s going to happen more and more, you’re still going to go check.
You’re going to go to that big AI in the sky called Google. which, by the way, I don’t think they actually have any people working there. I just think it’s this one big AI amoeba. Because, you can’t ever get anybody to talk to you from Google. But you’re still going to check. And you’re going to go out there, but you’re going to get your information.
You get your information
And as you get your information, if you’re not out there and being present. as a company and a person noted as an, expert in that area giving information. you won’t be found and you won’t be verified and validated. and you’re going to get passed up. that’s where bigger companies with more tools behind them. and the ability to say, look, we do HVAC.
we do electrical, we do plumbing, we do remodeling services, we do landscape, we do pest control. we do all these different things around your home. You’re going to start going to those people because they’re considered the thought leaders. or the, well, it’s just easy now. I can pick them and just say, go, right.
Pamela Bardhi: It’s so fascinating to see where things are going, though, honestly. My goodness. I’m, like, intrigued to see what happens next in all different realms. And how it helps spark more entrepreneurship and automation and things like that.
Chris, what’s up in your world of the next few months
Pamela Bardhi: And speaking of the future. Chris, what’s up in your world of the next few months? What’s going on?
Chris Lalomia: Well, I just launched my website called Chrislalamia.com. where I’ve, been at this for 15 years of The Trusted Toolbox. I think I’ll stay involved with The Trusted Toolbox. but kind of my next career because I can’t stay still. is, we’re going to get the Home Service Institute up and running and going a little bit harder.
So we’re going to be, going focused on that and growing our current business. because we’re looking to double this year and we’re on track, which is, pretty cool. But, setting up the Chrislalamia.com brand out there and get that going. because eventually I would like to be involved in. some speaking for different groups and talking to them. And then also, probably going to start leading up some mastermind groups here, in 24.
Pamela Bardhi: Love that, Chris. Oh, my goodness. I’m excited to see how all of that pans together. And I think the Institute is going to be. especially in this day and age, where you said a lot of there’s going to be a lot of consolidation.
I think it’s going to be more needed more than ever. that type of education to scale appropriately in the trades. given the landscape that we’ve got out there. So love that. Love that, my friend. And where can everyone reach you and your awesomeness?
Where can everyone reach Chris
Chris Lalomia: Well, you can always find my website, Chrislalamia.com. I’m Chris Lalamia on LinkedIn. But I am the customer service freak on Instagram. If you want to go follow that. We put some good content out there for Mean. If you’re here in Atlanta, obviously the Trusted Toolbox is around. but you can always go out there, and find out everything there. And you can find the book on Amazon as well.
Pamela Bardhi: Love it. Chris, thank you so much for being here today. dropping all these nuggets and gems and just sharing your story in general. You are amazing, my friend. Thank you.
Chris Lalomia: All right. I enjoyed it. Good luck with, everything that’s upcoming in your world, too, as well. So sneak peek for everybody. Lots of changes happening. Loving it.
Pamela Bardhi: Thank you, Chris. Thank you so much.
Underdog. Always dropping on Thursdays. So that’s it for today’s episode of Underdog
Pamela Bardhi: So that’s it for today’s episode of Underdog. Catch us next week. Always dropping on Thursdays. And remember, if you’re interested in real estate. or want to learn how to create more money and magic in your life. check out meetwithpamla.com and let’s chat. Sending you so, so much love.
Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with Chris Lalomia. If you found this story worth your time and made changes in your life, we’d love to hear from you! Subscribe and leave a review. The Underdog Podcast host is none other than Pamela Bardhi. She’s rocking the Real Estate Realm and has dedicated her life as a Life Coach. She is also Forbes Real Estate Council. To know more about Pam, check out the following:
If you’re interested in elevating your life 10x, and owning your power, Pamela invites you to join her for a 15-minute call to set your goals straight and get clarity. Start building your game plan now: meetwithpamela.com