Create a reputation of “I’ve got this’’ — We are our client’s first choice because they know we will always solve their challenges. Construction delays and emergencies can be real issues that get costly and cause lost productivity. Our clients know we will solve or greatly reduce that impact every time.
As a part of my series called “Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Bowers, Principal & Chief Revenue Officer of Precision Facility Group. Brian Bowers is a great entrepreneurial mind with over twenty-five years of industry experience with focus in business and custom product development. His extensive experience handling complex client portfolios and projects as well as his knowledge of assembling elite client services teams, has been at the foundation of his long-standing success. Brian’s competencies extend over a variety of industries and have helped establish him as a leader in business and technology nationwide.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
It was actually very random. After college, I became a Move Coordinator for a start-up cell phone company in Seattle. Through a series of work relationships, I got the opportunity to start selling office moving and logistics services. This led me to a mentor and business partner that was already where I wanted to be. He widened my vision of what was possible in our industry.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
It is very much an example of speaking what you want into existence. Our industry allows a person to live anywhere they choose as we operate globally in most of our verticals. I had moved from Seattle to Cincinnati to be closer to family but soon realized I needed to be back in Seattle. Six months after telling my partner of my strong desire to move back, we received an unsolicited opportunity with Microsoft. I had spent several years trying to acquire Microsoft as a client prior to leaving Seattle. We didn’t believe we had even the slightest chance of winning this extremely competitive piece of business. Miraculously, we won the opportunity and it launched the largest, most profitable client we had ever partnered with.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
His name is Jeff Ankenbauer. We met in 1999 when I moved from Seattle to Cincinnati. He was a top producer in our industry and a brilliant business mind. In my first few years of business development, I had never been around any true Top Producers. Jeff’s very direct, but energetic approach to business, changed my entire way of thinking. Without really knowing it at the time, I had stumbled into the ultimate mentor in our industry.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“See things with context and perspective”. It was the most relevant thing that I was taught by my mentor. Both business and personal decisions are greatly improved when we are successful at keeping things in context and seeing challenges or conflict with the right perspective. Our society is greatly deficient in both of these areas. If we are successful in maintaining both, it creates a competitive advantage and a happier life.
Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. We’d love to learn a bit about your company. What is the pain point that your company is helping to address?
Traditionally, the business in the verticals we operate in, require multiple suppliers and are locally based. This slows project delivery and reduces the leverage a client can have on their suppliers or contractors. The Precision Facility Group, precision-fg.com, model simplifies project delivery to Project and Facilities Managers through technology, expertise and a national platform of integrated suppliers. PFG guarantees consistent project delivery and increases our clients productivity.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story? When you first started the business, what drove you, what was your primary motivation?
Precision Facility Group is known to our clients as a solutions center. Our clients are Project Managers, Facilities Managers, and Supply Chain leaders for the Fortune 1000. They are responsible for large numbers of projects and/or large real estate portfolios. We are a scalable resource for them that allows them to focus on core responsibilities. For example, in 2019, we had a large Fortune 500 company that decided to close and decommission 108 sites in a 90 day period. Due to planning delays, the start dates were moved back 45 days. Missing the deadline on any of the sites meant significant lease charges. We didn’t change our commitment to the client. With no increased fees, our team completed every site on time. The scalable network of partners, our technology and the expertise of our team allowed this unthinkable task to be completed flawlessly. Our commitment to being accountable to our clients ensures they know they have a true team.
What drives you now? Is it the same? Did it change? Can you explain what you mean?
Our organization is still driven by establishing loyal clients through being 110% accountable to our commitment to deliver. In addition to that, I am personally driven to grow our organization by becoming the most desired place in our industry to hang your hat. I want our team members to be the highest paid people in our business. Whether its business development professionals or our operational delivery team, PFG will be a refuge for our peers to bring their client base. We will not put a ceiling on anyone’s income that performs.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Covid has brought some interesting times to our industry. Typically, we are fairly economic proof. Whether times are good or bad, there are projects happening. The pandemic has handed us a very stagnant economy that isn’t growing or shrinking its real estate footprint yet. We are using this time to further enhance our technology package, build our e-commerce model and build a new fantastic web solution, pfgwarehousing.com for national warehouse space needs. All of these efforts will make PFG a stronger national solutions provider by simplifying our clients challenges.
The topic of this series is ‘Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue’. Congratulations! Seven figures is really a huge milestone. In your experience what was the most difficult part of being able to hit your first million-dollars in sales revenue?
The first million is an incredibly stressful time. As a new company, you hope you bring some prior client relationships to help you get started. If you are subject to non solicitation or non compete agreements, as we were, that can be very difficult. You have to expedite your brand recognition and credibility. This is where a very robust digital marketing campaign must be implemented. It took me a while to fully embrace using LinkedIn and other platforms. But their impact on your company’s and your own personal brand is undeniable. Make no mistake, digital marketing does not replace classic sales and relationship building. They are parallel strategies that must be implemented simultaneously. Growth happens through momentum. The faster you can establish it, the faster you grow.
Could you share the number one sales strategy that you found helpful to help you reach this milestone?
Our strategy was simple: “BE EASY TO DEAL WITH!” Every new client was its own individual struggle to develop. It’s not easy to get new clients. Developing loyalty is crucial to your continued growth. Our success as a team has always come as a result of being easy to deal with. We are quick to return calls and emails. We always provide a solution to a problem. We are accountable to our commitments. We take on our clients’ problems as our own. We simplify their work life. When you are easy to deal with, you become their go to provider.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you or your team made during a sales process? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
This event happened a while ago in 2004 but it has always been a source of laughter. A former colleague of mine and I took a few clients to the Masters. After a great day at Augusta, we arrived back at the hotel to get ready for a dinner we had planned. As I walked out to join the others in a cab, one of our clients and my colleague ran up and asked me who the lead singer of Van Halen is: I said, “Sammy Hagar”.
They start shouting that they just saw Sammy Hagar. (Ok great)
After dinner we are all in the bar at the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead in Atlanta and I look toward the back of the room and in walks a very recognizable band. I say, “Hey guys! look over there!” They immediately start yelling, “Hey Sammy!”
I tell them, “No guys, that’s not Sammy!” They reply, “Yeah that’s the guy we saw in front of the hotel.” Again, they start yelling, “SAMMAYY!” I again say, “No you guys, that’s not Sammy Hagar, THAT’S STEVEN TYLER AND AEROSMITH!!!”
All the while Steven Tyler is walking by us in the bar looking at these guys like they have 3 heads! Great laugh and a story they can never live down. There isn’t much of a business lesson to be learned there but it created a great memory.
Does your company have a sales team? If yes, do you have any advice about how companies can create very high performing sales teams?
Yes we do. You don’t have any revenue without first selling something. High performing sales teams are your company’s life blood. You must make sure they have an environment that creates loyalty, provides support and doesn’t limit their growth and income potential. Precision Facility Group was started due to an organization that failed to properly value its sales team. As an owner, the biggest mistake you can make is limiting a sales person’s growth and income potential. It is literal insanity to put ceilings on incomes, split territories, reduce commissions, etc…You must value their ability to develop business. It takes special people to become top performers. If your company can’t retain salespeople, take a look at those areas. Turn them loose and let them sell. I honestly hope salespeople make more money than I do. I will be their biggest cheerleader. Help them understand the cost factors and margin needs of the company to be healthy. Be transparent. Give them the latitude and support to make all the money they can make. You will find the top people in your industry will be beating your door down.
Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Strategies I Used To Grow My Business To Reach Seven Figures In Revenue”. Please share a story or an example for each.
1. Create constant funnels of business-In our industry, it’s very difficult to maintain growth without clients that drive daily or weekly business. One-off projects are great but they need to be extra business over and about the consistent funnels.
2. Create a reputation of “I’ve got this’’ — We are our client’s first choice because they know we will always solve their challenges. Construction delays and emergencies can be real issues that get costly and cause lost productivity. Our clients know we will solve or greatly reduce that impact every time.
3. Be transparent- Your customers don’t expect you to be perfect, humans make errors and technology sometimes fails. But you must communicate that impact quickly and clearly with a solution to the issue. Don’t let them hear it from someone else.
4. Simplify your client’s life- Your client can go anywhere they want with their business. What makes you different? Do you bring them issues without already knowing the solution? When they are telling you how “buried” they are, are you thinking about and offering ways to help them out? If I’m your competition, we win every time.
5. Develop a loyal network of resources.- Precision Facility Group manages and executes projects nationally and internationally. That makes our service model a team sport. We have worked 15+ years to build our loyal dependable partner network to manage every aspect. PFG has partnered with them on certain clients, we help them grow and be more profitable. Sometimes it costs us some profitability. But in the end, we have a better partner. Whatever service your business operates in, you need close partners to succeed. Are you beating them up for every nickel of savings, or are you looking out for the health of their business as well. At some point you will need them badly, will they be there for you?
What would you advise to another business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth or sales and “restart their engines”?
I speak about this as a guilty party. I’ve experienced this exact issue. It’s typically because the leader has taken their eye off the ball. That person either is over reaping the rewards of their effort or they have lost the passion that got them to this point. Once you have reached this level, it can be very hard to consistently motivate yourself to do the things that originally got you there. At this point, in my opinion, its new blood that is needed. Communicate to your old and new team the desired outcome. Attach their compensation plans to the desired results. If you set the vision and incentive, you have a much better chance of getting that momentum back. With sales people, money drives behavior every time.
In your specific industry what methods have you found to be most effective in order to find and attract the right customers? Can you share any stories or examples?
Our industry has historically operated in a very traditional networking and relationship building manner. Being so closely aligned with the construction industry, our client base grows through word of mouth and referrals. Our methods are very specific in most verticals. PFG must be closely partnered with the commercial real estate outsourcing companies, architects and large national general contractors. For instance, in the corporate vertical of Workplace Services, three major commercial real estate firms control approximately 80% of the potential business. By aligning ourselves with them in a strategic partner relationship, we can quickly market ourselves and develop a reputation throughout a very large entity. In addition. PFG has recently opened the Precision Facility Group Furniture Store (precision-fg.com). This allowed us to enter the e commerce world in a way that is very untraditional to companies like ours. We created work at home packages for easy purchase and delivery for the remote worker. As a business owner, you must build many streams of cash flow. We are always looking to change the way we approach business development in our verticals to stay ahead of marketing trends.
Based on your experience, can you share a few strategies to give your customers the best possible user experience and customer service?
Our team’s success has always come from a few basic strategies. 1. Be available. Don’t be hard to reach. I don’t ever consider myself “out of pocket” or “on PTO”. I very seldom use an out of office message on my email. I am always available to our clients. Technology can be viewed as a leash or can be viewed as wings. My cell phone and wifi allow me to be anywhere and still be reachable by my clients. I believe it gives us freedom to relax and also be productive in our professional lives. 2. Be accountable for delivering on your commitments. Most of our clients are Project Managers in the construction industry. By the time we get involved in a project, they have been through battle in delivering that project. Contractors have the reputation for not being accountable. PFG succeeds because we are accountable to our commitments and we aren’t another thorn in our clients side. 3. Be a “do whatever it takes’’ person for your clients and your team. Don’t be a “not my job” executive. I’ve helped my teams do the physical office moving, install furniture, re-merchandise store fixtures and unload trucks. Its certainly not my favorite but my clients are there and it’s a great way to establish their loyalty.
As you likely know, this HBR article demonstrates that studies have shown that retaining customers can be far more lucrative than finding new ones. Do you use any specific initiatives to limit customer attrition or customer churn? Can you share some of your advice from your experience about how to limit customer churn?
This is an area that the PFG team has always valued highly. Keeping a client is far easier than finding a new one. Our internal culture of being easy to deal with is our number 1 retention tactic. We refuse to be another challenge our clients have to solve. The other important factor is making sure your team is financially attached to that client. Why would your sales rep be motivated to service that client if they have an expiration on commissions generated by that client. Continue to compensate your team for keeping and growing that customer.
Wonderful. We are nearly done. Here are the final “meaty” questions of our discussion. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
This is a subject I have a great deal of passion about because I’ve watched too many students bury themselves in college debt to get a degree that doesn’t prepare them to succeed. College is neither good or bad. It’s a tool. Our society and economy has changed but we haven’t changed the “go to college, get a good job” mantra. The internet allows a student to self educate very effectively. Trade schools teach very valuable skills that are much quicker to bring results. We all know college is necessary for some careers, but it shouldn’t be an automatic step after high school without much analysis. The construction industry is starving for new blood to keep up with demand. These are jobs that can be learned through trade schools, apprenticeships and targeted courses. The opportunity to learn a valuable skill and then turn that skill into a business is endless. We should promote that route equally as much as we do college.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Jack Nicholas. I absolutely love and respect the game of golf. Jack has personified the game and the character it takes to succeed.
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!