Business Owner Support of Palm Beach Interview Series Episode 1: Austin Doherty
We sat down with Austin Doherty, the owner of Palm Beach Premier Remodeling, for our very first interview. Austin talks about how he grew his business over the course of seven years, how he got on HGTV, and what he’s doing about business since the coronavirus pandemic. This video is brought to you by Business Owner Support of Palm Beach, a public Facebook group that supports local business owners throughout Palm Beach County. If you are interested in scheduling an interview, join the group and get in touch with the page admin George Kocher.
Without further ado, here is the first episode of our Business Owner Interview Series. Video transcript below.
George: Hey Guys! Just wanted you to have access to some of the business owners in the group. Austin is the owner of Palm Beach Premier Remodeling. So, Austin, Welcome!
Appreciate the invite! Glad to be here, grateful for the opportunity.
Yeah, so let’s hope this goes all right! You know, I’ll be honest with you, I’ve never done a Facebook Live.
Yeah it’s not my forte that’s why I’m with you! This is what you do!
Oh boy. All right, well, the whole goal is just to let people know about you. There’s obviously a lot of crazy things going on in the world right now. It’s an environment that I don’t think anybody is really used to or exactly knows how to operate in. So want to just start off, tell us a little bit about your business and your background?
Yeah, so we started out like seven years ago as a handyman company and didn’t really know what to expect, and the universe had way bigger plans for us, and I just give that to the integrity and the craftsmanship that we provided. Over the years we just continued to grow and grow and we got to a point where we had 20 employees working for us and I was like Whoa! Let’s restructure this whole thing because this is… it’s good, but it was a little much. So we opened up a showroom in the beginning of the year. And we now specialize in master bathrooms and high end kitchen renovations.
We’ve started working with you [Brand North] in the last probably six to nine months, and have a five star review across the board on all of the platforms that we advertise on, and most of our work is all word of mouth though, because of the quality of work that we provide our clients.
And we just provide the best quality that we can at an affordable price and we are just always backing… we always guarantee our work so if you call me:
“Hey, this is not right”. We come back and fix it.
I think that that’s what sets us apart from other contractors. Anybody can do the work, anybody can make it look good for a week or a month but if something fails… are you willing to go back and pay that expense out of your pocket to honor your word and your contract to make the customer happy?
That’s what we do and our reviews speak for themselves, you know.
Yeah I definitely see that and to be honest with you, I mean, living in South Florida you see a lot of crazy things going on with contractors, I was working with someone that I had been marketing for some time and I got taken for 10 grand on some impact windows, sadly.
Which was terrible. But I think the point is that you work with people, it seems like you’re personable, you understand their needs and you stand behind it if something goes wrong.
It’s a major difference than a lot of other people out there.
Yeah, I feel like a lot of our clients are already going into it with fear because of the bad rap that South Floridian contractors have. I don’t like to persuade anybody. I just say “read our reviews”. Come to our brick and mortar showroom. We aren’t going anywhere. Our address is not an address in the middle of some land in Pahokee Florida either. We’re not going anywhere.
All of our contracts are made by lawyers, which doesn’t only protect us, but it also protects our clients. It is a two way street here and I make that very known to them like our contract isn’t just for us. it protects you as well. And just being transparent, I think most people just know how another individual is and for whatever reason, a lot of people just trust my judgment, and it’s created this, we’ve got, I don’t know, probably 500 clients in our base that all are word of mouth that all continue to use us and refer us to their families… and I’ve never once taken a paycheck and never done what I said I was going to do.
I would tell war stories like the one you just shared and people running off with $40,000. I can’t even fathom that. My mother would be like, “I’m coming to get you”, you know, I guess I live within a set of principles. And that’s why I’m successful.
People will ask me “why are you so successful?”. Well, I don’t have the magic sauce. I just do my best and show up. That’s all it is.
That’s all you can do, right?
But, obviously it served you very well. I mean, you’ve moved from seven years ago, having a handyman business… I was in your showroom the other week, beautiful.
Thank you. Thank you
You’re serving some of the highest end homes and… everybody really. It seems like your products and what you supply is quality for all different price ranges. Well, how about you tell people about the job that you just had.
Yes. So, a client, once again, we remodeled their entire home. They referred us to one of their friends. Ironically, their friend won the lottery. And they were asked by My Lottery Dream Home if they could interview the house and put it on the air. So we had an opportunity to rebuild this whole house in Jupiter, Florida. It’s actually being aired next week again. There was a complete renovation: kitchens, bathrooms, flooring… and it was just recently aired on HGTV!!
Got another five star review from that client It was… it was a hard job. There was a lot of stuff and this client was picky. He was picky but we made it happen. It aired and it looked way better on their cameras than it did with mine. I was like, I like it! And, yeah, we’ll see what stems from that but that’s pretty cool. It’s an honor!
You should be proud of that right? And you getting a feature on a show like that and just, I mean, just having that type of quality work where somebody knows they’re going to be on TV and they feel comfortable enough to choose you to do the work. It’s a big deal.
So, it is man! Like, I’m just a local boy from Boynton Beach. I’m a nobody! And seeing my company that I created by myself and seeing it aired on national TV… I got the goosebumps man.
I don’t do it for others, I do it for myself. I’ve come such a long way in life. If you’re passionate about what you do, you’re going to do a good job.
And I tell my clients, “if you’re trying to find a cheap contractor, I’ll give you some phone numbers, I have them, call them if you like. I’m not your guy. But what I can tell you is that what I’m going to provide to you is the utmost. I set that bar. You will get what you pay for. Just like all of the products at our showroom. There’s probably thousands of products that I could sell that are cheaper but I don’t want to be that contractor. I want to give you something that’s gonna last 40 years, not redo it again in two years to just get a paycheck. It’s not about a paycheck. I got my bills but there’s way more to it than just selling something to get rich quick. I don’t believe in that.
Well, this has probably been really motivating for a lot of people. So let’s talk about the business of the business for a second. So obviously, you provide a great product but one thing that I think is unique about you is what you said. You have a cult following. Basically people refer you business, you probably could make a really good living just based on that, just based on word of mouth but you have started to basically diversify into new ways of marketing, new ways to expand, new ways to acquire clients, and I think you said, even at the beginning, where you grew, then you kind of re evaluated the business.
So, what is it that you do that helps you continue to keep the business where it needs to be and to keep it growing? And I’m sure that helps you a lot during times like this that are difficult.
Yeah! I made the decision – I work hand in hand with META Business Coaching and we were like “hey we should probably go towards like SEO, I know that everything’s gonna be like “hey Alexa, find me a contractor”… I feel like that’s where the world is going. So, we made a decision to partner with you [brandnorth.com] and like, by the way, you’re a rock star… anybody who’s tuning in right now I can’t see who’s watching but, yeah.
I’m not sure, but yeah I mean, the fact that you were willing to reach out far before me, but even thinking about and asking other people for advice getting their opinion and working with Blake and all those things. I just think it’s rare in a lot of ways, I do the same thing. I re-evaluate my business and I try to get opinions from other people if I’m stepping down the right path or the wrong path but I don’t know how common it really is, just having that ability to change and shift and learn.
I feel like that’s the only way to grow though. I’m a big believer that my way is not always the right way. There’s not too many people in my industry that you can look up and be like, you know what, I want to be like Graham. So it’s almost like I have to go and take my own path to be that leader, to set the benchmark in this industry.
And not that my business coach… he doesn’t do construction but it’s just when you’re with a network of people that are all of their lives are based on principles, the universe works with everybody. Yeah, and I just knew that like I was, I was open minded to try something different. And when I made that shift to being more open minded and allowing people to give me feedback and constructive criticism… my business expanded immediately. When we started working with you, I was really fearful.
I was like wait a minute! This is gonna cost me a lot of money up front. I’m not going to see [immediate] results because I chose to go organic, instead of AdWords… Now I can see because we’re able to track. So not only are we getting the word of mouth from our clients but we’re also getting people that are new, and we’ve already had five. I don’t know how many clients we’ve had under contract, but I do know that the people that have reached out to us via Google for example, have already referred us to their family members.
Which is cool! Yeah and that’s one of the things that happens too, but that doesn’t happen automatically right? It happens if you do a good job and one customer always turns into two customers. So even if it might be a little more expensive to acquire one customer and you spend money on print ads or whatever you’re doing… it might be expensive, but if you can do a really good job and you can follow up and you can let them know that your business really works based on referrals and, you know, would you feel comfortable doing that then? I mean, all of a sudden it just immediately lowers your cost of acquisition to acquire a new client by 50%,
Of course! I’ve always been a big believer, even before we were pretty big, I always invested back into my company… people want to see all these zeros in their bank account right now. I call that tunnel vision, like, narrow minded. I would rather have less now, put it into my company, so that I can create a life outside of my business. When I have a wife and when I have kids that will then produce zeros. Right now it’s not the time.
Now’s the time to learn, create new ways of being the contractor that I want to be and then implementing those things so in five years… 10 years… I have the luxury of spending time with my family. And it’s just by being open minded, listening to your advice, my business coach’s advice, and just learning from mistakes, that’s another big thing too. You have to.
That’s awesome. And well, so obviously you guys aren’t open right now.
We aren’t open, we’re taking all of the CDC guidelines into consideration doing what we can. We’re kind of at the mercy of each municipality. They all have their own rules and it’s kind of hard because they sway so differently from one end of the county to the other.
But we are still open. We are doing virtual estimates right now. I just posted earlier today that we can do a virtual estimate to protect ourselves and our clients.
Basically, a FaceTime like this to walk through. We don’t have any paperwork with our clients. Everything is done in an [online] hub, so one place you can see your proposal, your contract, your change orders, your pictures… everything is in one place. And the CRM? Easy to access, easy to maneuver. So, they never even have to come into the building.
Yeah! Got it. All right. Cool man! Well I hope that people from the group are watching and see this video. Once we’re off you can just post all of your information about your website and Palm Beach Premier Remodeling, and your Facebook page.
Well, you can go ahead and answer if anybody comments afterwards and please, everybody liked the video, share the video. All right? The whole goal of this is to help support local business. Austin’s a local business owner, he supports the local community so let’s do the same thing for him. All right?
Thanks Brand North! We appreciate you!