O.P. Almaraz is the President & Co-Founder of Allied Restoration, Almaraz is a thought leader, influencer, visionary, and successful entrepreneur. Almaraz provides the leadership and energy that has inspired the creation of Allied Restoration.
O.P. Almaraz joins other leading Bestselling Authors, International Speakers & Entrepreneur, CEOs and Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team is delighted to have Almaraz join us for our Leader Roundtable Interview.
Let's start by telling us about your business.
Allied Restoration is a General Contractor that helps home and commercial property owners recover from disasters such as fire or water damage as well as mold, bacteria or virus outbreaks (such as COVID-19). We are a company based in West Covina, California with a tribe of individuals who are on call 24/7/365 to serve our local community.
Q: Please tell us how you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
We believe that the keystone to incredible customer service is setting and meeting the expectations of our customers. We are in a precarious industry wherein a significant majority of our customers are using the type of services we provide for the first and last time (fortunately most people don't have multiple home fires). From the very first inspection, our team is trained to engage the client with a conversation about what they want to see from their service experience and asking what type of service we would need to provide for them to be willing to appear on camera raving about their experience.
Each time a handoff occurs where a new service person comes in to work on a portion of the project, that information is transferred to the new person. These "job cards" are instrumental to the way we serve and interact with the customer. Throughout the customer journey, we are engaging and checking in with the client through every preferred medium of the customer (email, text and phone) to perform "pulse checks" and see how the client is feeling about the overall experience.
Q: Please tell us the one thing that separates your business from the competition?
Allied Restoration is a disaster restoration company that continually looks outside of its industry to change the way we interact with our customers. This is a business with a relatively small customer base (think of how many home or commercial business owners you know right now that have fire or flood damage– it's probably none) so most companies rely on marketing to professionals within the Insurance Claims administration space to get their business. This creates a psychology within our industry that the Claims Professional is the customer as opposed to the actual end user of our services (the property owner). As a result, customer service is not measured or valued for many of our competitors.
We remain focused on getting that raving fan testimonial that comes from absolutely blowing away our customer with outstanding service. We don't look to bigger restoration companies for ideas. We look towards customer facing organizations that are obsessed with experience like fine dining and hotels. A few weeks ago, I spent 4 hours watching videos about Rolls Royce and how they customize and create an incredible buying experience for their customers. I'm way more likely to find inspiration there than a $100 million construction company.
Q: And to finish this section, Please tell us what is the one major key to your companys success?
The key to our company's success is truly in our people. Building systems and processes is easy. In the age of digital marketing and pay per click, customers come as easy as being the high bidder. Finding quality building materials to use is as easy as making a phone call to local distributors. The difference maker are the hearts and minds engaged in the work. The Allied Restoration Tribe is obsessed with doing everything we can to create the greatest experience for our customers. We have a rigorous selection process that ensures that we find hires who are prepared to remain emotionally engaged with the great work of service we are performing. We teach our employees to care as much about their work as anything else. In our interview process, we look for employees who can cash what we call "the passion check". In addition to getting paid for their work, we look for employees who will walk away feeling invigorated from their work because they love it and would rather work here than anywhere else in the world.
As a result, I can count on one hand how many times we've had an employee leave us to make more money somewhere else. People don't work here for the money (although we pay well). People don't work here for the hours (we work hard) and they don't work here for the benefits. They work here because they love being here. We love our culture and that love is reflected in both intracompany and customer relations.
Q: For our readers just starting to build a company, what advice can you give entrepreneurs just starting out with a new venture?
What gets you to $1 million is not the same formula that can get you to 2, 5, 10 or $50 million. That being said, while the tactics change, the foundation of who you are as a business needs to be clearly defined as you move forward. Before we could get to a healthy place as an organization, we needed a clear set of values and vision of who we are. I know it's cliche, but these foundations of identity for our organization constrain us in a positive way to grow in a healthy and sustainable way.
Q: For entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as yours, what big piece of advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
Just like a positive customer experience, a successful business will start with setting clear expectations. In other words, from day 1: you need to know that throughout the life of your business, there will be challenging times and rewarding times. Your business will kick you in the teeth. Like a great marriage, you have to be emotionally engaged in your business at the same 100% level whether it's going great or bad. Remember who you are, why you got started and the challenges will be like airplane turbulence: nothing to worry about and when it's over and you're back on the ground, you'll have a great story to tell to give your tribe hope through future bumps in the air.
Q: In todays fast changing business environment, how do you stay abreast of things?
We strongly believe in getting powerful outside voices into our culture. I require our leadership team to educate themselves through outside books and mentors, which we pay handsomely for. If it's a priority, you have to spend the two great limited resources (money and time) on it. You can't expect your leadership team to grow your business if they themselves are not also growing.
Q: What is your Why? In one sentence, why do you get up in the morning?
Excuse my French, but I f*ing love what I do.
The other day, I was talking to another entrepreneur who was lamenting about how his wife didn't understand that he was grinding tirelessly to provide the kind of life they wanted for their family. He was struggling with his marriage and finding happiness because she just couldn't get that he "had" to do it. This kind of toxic mindset is what holds us back from giving 100% to our endeavors. It's also incredibly dishonest and deflating for our partner to hear. I refuse to pretend that I am engaged and engrossed with my work because I have to do it. I want to do it and I love to do it.
Q: In one sentence, what is the most important thing one has to do to be a great leader?
A leader must have a servant's heart.
There's a quote from the bible that has stuck with me from Sunday School classes of long ago that the person who would be greatest among you shall be a servant. I consider it my greatest duty as a leader to build more leaders around me and this servant's heart is what we look for. Mr. Rogers shared the story that his mother taught him that in hard times, to look for the ones helping and that is exactly what I look for as well.
Q: In one sentence, describe how important your customers are to your business?
There is no business without our customer and all my favorite moments in our business involve great stories about them. I'm in love with every single person who decides to buy from us.
Q: In one sentence, describe a positive way that technology can make the world a better place?
Technology allows us to automate tasks to free up our minds, hearts, and hands to do work that means more and is uniquely human. It gives me the time and presence of mind to lead with passion, power and clarity.
Q: In one sentence, tell us something positive to motivate our readers?
You can choose if the bad things that happen to you will motivate you or deflate you.
I grew up as a poor kid on government cheese and food stamps which taught me to hate poverty and spend my life defeating it for myself and the people in my community. My brother, best friend and business partner died just as our business was getting started which allowed me another powerful reason to consecrate my life to this work. I've lost multi million dollar accounts several times so far and every time, it has inspired an intense creativity that has not only helped us to survive, but created even better opportunities.
Q: In one sentence, tell us how you start your day to get ready?
I take care of myself with intense exercise, deep meditation and study so that I am ready to take care of my people (who I have a morning conference call with every day to set expectations and align prior to the start of our day).
Q: In one sentence, describe how you handle rejection and setback?
Keep going: rejection and setback are the best parts of the story of winning.
Q: In one sentence, describe what your hiring philosophy is?
Hire selectively and train intensely as if the people you're hiring will be with you forever and continue to recruit as if they're leaving tomorrow.
Q: In one sentence, describe how you keep your sanity in a competitive business environment?
When I started as a carpet installer, I learned to cultivate physical toughness to deal with the difficulty of working on my knees. As a business leader, I've learned to cultivate mental toughness in the same way so that I can remain sharp, unfettered and unbreakable.
O.P. Almaraz, thank you so much for participating in the DotCom Magazine Leader Roundtable Interview Series. We appreciate you participating in this important roundtable interview series, and helping our readers learn more about what it takes to build a great company and become a great leader. We wish you, your family, and of course Allied Restoration, nothing but the best.