[00:00:00.330] - Narrator
In this episode of great practices. I'm talking with Jared Martin, owner of PDC Homebuyers. Find out how this business owner construction project manager is able to balance resources with project workload, has learned the importance of saying no, and one great practice on how he vets out people that work for him. Plus, you'll be pleasantly surprised to hear that there is such a thing as a free lunch. If you work for Jared and find out how viewing yourself as an orchestra conductor will keep everyone on the same sheet of music.
[00:00:31.340] - Narrator
It's hard to say when something is a best practice, but it's much easier to know when something is a great practice. And that's what this podcast is all about. Interviews with PMO and project management leaders who, through years of trial and error, have discovered their own great practices and are now sharing their insights with you. Now sit back and enjoy the conversation as Chris Kop uncovers another great practice in this episode.
[00:01:01.090] - Chris
We'd like to welcome you to this episode of Great Practices. And today we're going to be getting out of our comfort zone a bit. Now, I'm not sure if you're necessarily going to be getting out of yours, but I certainly will be getting out of mine. The projects I've managed, the PMOs I've run over the years all had an It component to them, so this could be anywhere from building websites to applications to hardware deployments. But that's not what our guest today does. Jared Martin is the owner of PDC Homebuyers, and he's the owner of a real estate investment company that buys and sells distressed properties. So all his project management experience is in the construction space. So I'm anxious to dig into some of the similarities and differences there are between It and construction project management, uncovering some of the challenges that he's had to deal with, how he's dealt with them, and discovering some more great practices in an entirely different field than what I'm used to. So, Jared, we'd like to welcome you to great practices.
[00:02:05.030] - Jerad
Thank you very much, Chris. I'm happy to be here.
[00:02:08.410] - Chris
So the first question I have, Jared, is can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
[00:02:14.570] - Jerad
Yeah, you nailed it. I'm with my wife. We are the operators of PDC homebuyer here in Georgia. We look for distressed properties, houses that need some love, attention, and we renovate those. And our goal is to put a family in those homes that would love them. So we buy and sell distressed properties.
[00:02:38.150] - Chris
Nice. How long you been doing this now?
[00:02:41.090] - Jerad
We moved to this area about 16 years ago, right when the crash happened, and we kind of found ourselves buying and selling real estate, not on purpose, but by accident, and we've been doing it ever since. So if you ever watch any of those shows on the TV about buying and selling real estate or fixing up houses, that's pretty much exactly what we do.
[00:03:01.580] - Chris
So Jared, tell us, what does a typical project look like that you would manage? How large are they duration, how many could you have going on at time? What's a typical project look like in your world?
[00:03:15.310] - Jerad
Yeah, that's kind of changed as of recent. I mean, ideally the smaller the projects are, the better for what we do. We'd like to find something that just needs paint and carpet and put it on its way. But with the market conditions the way they are, it seems that the larger projects are what's available now, ones that need a little bit more work. So I would say our typical job project that we would be doing is a single family home. Maybe 1500 sqft would be ideal, something that a family wants to live in. The duration of the project could go anywhere from eight to twelve weeks. Some of the ones that have more work would be longer than that. And you can spend 20,000 on something that's very minimal, up to 80,000 plus on those that need work.
[00:04:06.340] - Chris
Got it. So how many of these projects do you have going on at any moment of time? Like what's a low end and what's a high end, maybe of what you'd have going on?
[00:04:14.740] - Jerad
So low end would be just one project and then if we're only doing one project, we are actively looking for another one. So we're out in the ground trying. And like I said, the market dictates that if there's nothing out there, we're not going to just jump on something just to keep ourselves busy. We want to be smart about that. So in those events we will take on some remodels and some other types of work, but our focus is on what they call flipping the house.
[00:04:44.220] - Chris
[00:04:44.700] - Jerad
And as far as what we can take on, the sweet spot is really three projects. When you have three projects going, it's almost like poetry. It's like you've got enough work for all the different pieces of the puzzle to go from one to the other. And then when they're finished up with that, they go to the other and it's ready for the next crew to go in after that. And three is pretty much ideal for optimization of productivity.
[00:05:09.390] - Chris
Okay, all right, that's good. So you've probably had more than three and kind of maybe felt like you're going off the rails a little bit every now and then, right?
[00:05:16.950] - Jerad
Yeah. So if you get too big, you go beyond three and then you got to look at, oh, we need some more help, we need to bring on this and then we need to bring on that. Yeah, and you can certainly do that, but then when things slow down, you got all that help and you got all that back end stuff and things slow down, then you're like, oh no. So keep it small enough to manage and keep moving and grow. If you need to, but only then.
[00:05:41.810] - Chris
So over these 16 years, I am sure you've come across many challenges, right? What would you say if you reflect on these years? What are the top challenges that you've had to deal with and what are some of the ways that you've overcome them?
[00:05:58.210] - Jerad
In one word, the biggest challenge is balance. And it goes across the spectrum of what we do. But just as I touched on before about having the proper workload, if you don't have enough workload, then the problem is you lose the distance, the connection between your subcontractors, your guys. You don't have enough work to keep them busy, they go away here, go away there and then to get them back when you need them is very tough. And if you have too much work, I think anyone can relate to, what happens then is the stress level goes up, the demands go up, quality goes down, and overall production suffers among other things too. So having the balance of the workload for what we have is key and then also balance within that, keeping contractors happy and different people happy within the scope of the work that we're doing.
[00:06:55.410] - Chris
So the balance then it sounds like it's. Resource allocation, resource management challenge. What are some of the ways that you've been able to overcome that and kind of make that not so much of an issue over these past 16 years?
[00:07:10.570] - Jerad
Well, I think the 16 years of experience has helped to overcome that. What I mean by that is when we buy one of these houses, there is unforeseen things that pop up when we buy and we inherit all the problems it has. So for instance, if you have a foundation situation or a dry rot situation underneath some drywall that you didn't know about, each one of those is going to delay a timeline, it's going to delay an expectation, it's going to delay a trade. And before we buy a house, we kind of spec out what we think we can sell it for, what we think we're going to put into it, and how long it's going to take to do. But in reality, those change the instant you buy the house. So being flexible and adaptable to that and when you have more than one project going on, that's where that helps. Because if you have a delay on one now, you focus over here and you create the work to keep the flow going.
[00:08:07.210] - Chris
Got it. And that's why sounds like that's why it's good to have three. Exactly. Put the guys where they need to be, but not overwhelming or underwhelming them for that matter.
[00:08:16.910] - Jerad
Yeah, exactly. That's what I found for me to be the sweet spot is three.
[00:08:22.370] - Chris
Any other challenges that come to top of the mind when you think about your years in business?
[00:08:27.540] - Jerad
Here another challenge, and again for your listening audience, it may be a little different if you're assigned a project, you have this project scope that starts here, ends here with what I do. I'm basically the project manager of 100 different projects. And so one thing that helps, one challenge is to be careful of the projects I take on. So I'm not working for a company. I'm not getting assigned these projects. This is my decision. I'm making the decision to take on this project. And so when I do it, again, having the experience that I do, I can foresee a lot. Whereas back in the day, I've taken on projects that I've lived and learned on or took notes on, but today, being disciplined on the projects that I take on. And like I said, when maybe you only have one project going on and you need something else go on to keep those guys busy, there is a temptation to say, hey, maybe I'll do this, I'll go grab this one over here, when in reality you know better. So just having that trust and discipline to only take on the projects that you can execute well on, that's good.
[00:09:48.040] - Chris
So it's like you have to be able to say no, right? And it's like it's probably hard to do that early on, but it's bit you probably over the years and you get to the point where you can say no.
[00:10:00.190] - Jerad
Yeah, you have to. And a lot of people, when they find out you do this for a profession, they're like, oh man, I see those TV shows. I'd love to do it. If you did try it, the first one, you'd have such laser focus on it and you'd be all in and you'd be there every day and it would probably turn out well. But to do it over and over and over again, you have to have that discipline. You have to say no. Because like I said, you inherit every problem that comes with these houses and not everyone is one that you would want to take on.
[00:10:34.940] - Chris
Yeah. So communication is hard enough for people sitting at their desks with email teams, all these other screens and everything in front of them. So I can only imagine what it's like in the field that you guys are working out in these homes and flipping these houses. How do you ensure that everybody is on the same page? So you got these guys all over doing their jobs and working in their different trades and crafts. How do you keep everybody playing well together there?
[00:11:06.630] - Jerad
So, yeah, communication is key. And knowing each individual, whether it's when you're in house guys, or whether it's a subcontractor, knowing what their strengths are and what their communication style is, because everybody communicates differently. Somebody could be as grumpy as but they're not grumpy. That's just who they are. So understanding who they are, the benefit we have is this is another practice that I do is I try to vet the individual well in advance. I put more time into understanding who they are, strengths, weaknesses, and this and that. And before they become a full on team member or subcontractor, I'm going to use over and over again, I want to make sure who they are because we have such a kind of cohesive team already that adding a wrong piece is obviously going to be detrimental to that. And we've had a lot of guys for a long period of time working, so we have a really strong unit. So adding any new piece to that, we definitely want to know, hey, what are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Who are you? And then let them in.
[00:12:21.200] - Chris
Yeah, no, that's good, because you're right. It's like you get that well performing team, you get that wrong person in there, and they could just cause the whole group to cave in, there's no doubt. So it's good to spend that time up front in order to get the right person there. What else do you do to kind of make sure that everybody's on the same page?
[00:12:40.210] - Jerad
Well, one thing, and I did this a long time ago, and I did it more so for productivity, is I buy lunch. I buy lunch for the guys every day.
[00:12:51.320] - Chris
[00:12:51.990] - Jerad
And the thought behind it is when they get there and they set up their tools, it takes a while before they're actually getting into a production mode. And then lunch comes at 12:00, and for them to stop what they're doing, take off, come back 45 minutes later, and then put the tool belt on or whatever they're doing. And to me, it was a production thing. Lunch on site, you're off and running. But now that we've done it so much, the communication and the team building that happens while those guys are sitting there in the same place eating lunch together, I would never stop doing it. It's highly beneficial. And I know it probably doesn't fit for what everybody does or their circumstances, but at least maybe once a week or something, do that where you could sit the guys down together and they get to know each other, and you got time to talk shop too, so it's really good.
[00:13:50.330] - Chris
So you'll get lunch for guys on all of your projects that are going on that day. Like, you'll go or send somebody, go get them lunch.
[00:13:57.940] - Jerad
Yeah. There's reason within this because it's typically two or three guys. There are occasions when we have what I call a high production day, so maybe we have a roof going on at the same time we got other and there could be eight guys on the job site. And selectively, I'll do that where I'll go get lunch for eight to ten guys, too. But typically it's like two or three guys. I'll go get the lunch, bring it in. And what's interesting about that is now they bring lunch. Just last week, the painter, his wife makes the best ceviche you've ever had. And probably, I would say once a month or once every couple of weeks. He's like, well, we do ceviche brings it in, big tub of it. We got the works. And he does it not just for me, but he brings it for in that time too. And he's not the only one. The other team members will do that too. And so there's a bond there. They get to know each other.
[00:14:56.830] - Chris
Yeah. It's a great side effect of what you were doing for just efficiency. Right. And it's like that investment, that investment in food has just paid off probably way more than you had even expected. So it's a great way of doing it.
[00:15:12.160] - Jerad
Yeah. And I think there's something that when you eat with someone, it's away from work. I mean, you're work, you're there, you're seeing the job. But when you break bread and you can talk and talk about your family, talk about different things, there's a closeness and a camaraderie that gets built.
[00:15:31.210] - Chris
I'll tell you a sad story about eating together. There was a company I worked at many years ago, and they would bring in lunch for all of the developers four days a week. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Same reasoning. It was productivity. Because instead of sending people, people leaving for lunch and coming back an hour, hour and a half later, they just said, it's going to be better if we just buy everybody lunch and they hang out here. So then people started gaming the system. So they'd eat lunch and then they'd play chess or something for like an hour there. And then as the company got into trouble because of 911 and there was all kinds of issues around whatever was funding the company, they gradually took the lunches away. So we knew the company was in trouble when we all had to start go buy our own lunches. But while it lasted, it was great. It was just like everybody was there and it was just a really nice perk. And like you're saying, it just kind of built that camaraderie up. Now, you've likened yourself to an orchestra conductor. We've had conversation before the show.
[00:16:32.400] - Chris
Here what's some more of your tricks of getting everybody to play well together? Any insight there?
[00:16:40.370] - Jerad
So with that, what I would say is recognizing the skill set of players that you got. And in construction, when you talk to someone and you ask them, what are your skills? It's very common for them to say, oh, I know how to do this, this, and this. And what I do anytime I hear someone tell me they're a jack of all trades and they have 30 years experience, and I ask them right back, I said, of all of the skills that you just described, what would you pick as your number one skill? What are you a master at? And if they hesitate or they have to think about it, I know they're not a master at any one of them, right? They may know how to do a number of things, but they're not a master at any one. And so that tells me something. Whereas if their response is, I'm a trim carpenter, I got 20 years finishing houses, out and cabinets, and they tell me that, well, I know they know how to do that part of it. So knowing what I'm dealing with as far as the instrument players is key.
[00:17:51.990] - Chris
Do you ever go see samples of their work or ask them to do sample work or anything like that? Is that part of your vetting out process?
[00:18:01.450] - Jerad
No, I would say the majority of the vetting I can do verbally.
[00:18:06.090] - Chris
You can know.
[00:18:06.880] - Jerad
I've been around it long enough to know how you answer once you ask that initial question, you can do some sub questions and hear the response as well. And you're going to know what their strengths and weaknesses are. A jack of all trades and a master none is great. We have some of those and it's perfect. But you have to know that's in your instrument, that's in your orchestra, and so you're going to call on him to do scopes that you wouldn't call on somebody else to do scopes. So you got to know who all the different components are, who's the master, who's the lead guy. There's a lot of ego in construction. You don't want to take one trade and have another guy of the same trade coming behind him. It never goes well. Right. They always pick and circumstances are always different. So knowing when to give the guy the floor and let him play and when the other guy is done playing. And then sometimes we have an orchestra where they all play together.
[00:19:09.150] - Chris
They don't like sharing the stage very seldom.
[00:19:12.890] - Jerad
And believe it or not, if you find someone that does like sharing the stage, who's a master of what they do and does not mind working side by side with someone else that does the same thing, and they can work the entire day and be productive and they're liking each other, you get the gold mine. I mean, that's what you want. You want guys that can work together because sometimes it's not up to one guy to get the whole scope of work done under one trade. Sometimes that takes forever. You need to be able to put two and three people together to get something. And if you get two guys that just can't get along, it's terrible.
[00:19:48.740] - Chris
I can only imagine. So is there anything else, Jared, that our listeners should know about when it comes to successfully managing construction projects?
[00:19:57.510] - Jerad
For me, it's kind of digging deeper a little bit, and what I would say to that is the word humility. And the reason I say that is because for me to do what I do, I have to recognize all the things I don't know, right? There's so many different aspects to flipping a house. So many different trades involved. I'm not an expert electrician. I'm not an expert plumber. I'm not an expert at a lot of the things that go into what we do, but you have to recognize what you don't know and get the right people in there to take care of it. And so that's what I do all across the board, is when I ask these people these questions and I'm vetting them and I'm asking them, I really want to know what you don't know, like what you feel uncomfortable doing. And not only would we help you do it or pair you with someone that can help you do that, but we're not going to put that on your shoulders to do something that you're uncomfortable doing. And the guys that will say they know how to do everything and kind of step forward and do something, that's when you get in trouble.
[00:21:05.410] - Jerad
So humility is a key factor, knowing your limitations, right?
[00:21:10.650] - Chris
Yes, it's good. Well, what's the best way to reach you if someone has more questions or wanted to discuss any of these ideas that you've talked about today further?
[00:21:21.530] - Jerad
Well, we have a website. It's www.ibuypdc.com.
[00:21:29.930] - Chris
[00:21:30.540] - Jerad
And we are actually working on that as we speak to kind of revamp it a little bit and a direct email. Is it's very difficult if you can remember my name? It's jared [email protected].
[00:21:44.110] - Chris
Got it. And we'll include that in the show notes, too. Well, Jared, we appreciate you coming on today, and thank you for getting me out of my comfort zone and making it not terribly uncomfortable. And what's interesting know, the challenges, the experiences that you've recounted as it relates to construction is pretty much the same thing. It's just different skill sets, and it's just different people, and it's just a different environment. But the challenges are the same of having the right people in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing, and how do you keep everybody motivated? And so we definitely appreciate you jumping on Today and sharing some of your great practices with us.
[00:22:20.880] - Jerad
I appreciate it too. Chris, it's been a pleasure.
[00:22:23.140] - Chris
All right, talk to you soon.
[00:22:24.300] - Jerad
All right, buddy.
[00:22:28.750] - Chris
Well, that was another great episode of Great Practices, and we'd like to thank Jared for being on today. So what were some of the great practices that we were able to glean from today's episode? I like some of the points that he brought about of the challenges that he faced. One of the biggest challenges is being balanced, not having enough work to keep his guys busy, and they leave if there's too much work. The stress level goes up, demand goes up, quality goes down, and that's a whole bunch of other problems there. So I kind of like the way that he's found his sweet spot of exactly how many projects to be running at a time, and in order to keep his guys busy and occupied, but not at the same time killing them while he's at it. What about the idea of being disciplined? To say no, knowing when, to realize that even though it may look good on the surface or it may be something that you want to do in order to fill in some extra time, knowing that behind the scenes it may be a problem. And like the fact that he had the discipline to say no.
[00:23:32.370] - Chris
Something we could certainly all learn from. And when it comes to communication, I like the fact that he took the responsibility on himself to communicate effectively because that is so accurate. It's like there's a sender and there's a receiver and it's not the receiver's responsibility necessarily to get the message, it is the sender's responsibility to make sure the message is received. So he gets to know each individual personally, whether it's an in house employee or a subcontractor. He learns their communication style and preference, puts time and understanding into who they are and then he'll adapt to make sure that they're receiving the message and the communication in the way that works best for them. So a very effective way in the way that he communicates with his employees and subcontractors. What about that idea of a free lunch? There is such a thing as a free lunch. What's the principle that we can get out of that? He basically gets everybody together. He does it every single day. But having everybody come together, talk about work, talk about personal things in that environment is good and it has increased his productivity as well and the camaraderie that's come out of that.
[00:24:43.840] - Chris
So it's an investment, but certainly you can see that there is a return on that investment in how effective his business is run there. And he likened himself to an orchestra conductor. He realized that there was different musicians, there were different skill sets that they played, different instruments. And so he knew which ones that needed to play at a particular time when they all needed to play together, which ones he didn't need to have on the stage at the same time playing together. I thought that was very insightful as far as really how he views himself and making sure that he's getting the most out of his people and out of his teams. And then this was an interesting quality to bring to the table about how to be a good project manager. Humility. He recognizes his limitations, he recognizes what he doesn't know. He recognizes that he's not an expert in all of these other areas or all these trades and he's going to rely upon those that are. So he finds the right people, he communicates well with them and then he sets them up as the expert and lets them do their job.
[00:25:48.620] - Chris
So again, great lesson for all of us to take advantage of in whatever types of projects we're managing. So I'd like to thank Jared Martin again for being on Today and joining us on Great Practices. And do you have a great practice that you'd like to share? Go to thepmoleader.com click on Explore Great Practices podcast and then fill out the form at the bottom of the screen. Someone will get in touch with you shortly. And also be sure not to miss out on a single episode by subscribing to Great Practices on your favorite podcast platform. And if you like what you hear, we've had a lot of great guests on over the past couple of years. Now be sure to share this with your manager, colleagues, and anyone else you think would benefit. Thanks again for listening to this episode and keep putting Great Practices into Practice our channel.