PODCAST EPISODE 51

Tuning up your business with Rich Allen

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A small family business fills its owner with pride, and motivates them to leave a legacy for their family.

But most small businesses have something in common: It’s just a job without time for a vacation with your loved ones.

Despite being skilled in your field, you don’t pay yourself enough for all your hard work.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

The solution?

Set up systems and build a team, so you can focus on growth instead of getting caught in the trenches.

In this episode, Rich Allen, author of The Ultimate Business Tune Up and the CEO of Tour de Profit, shares the business framework that unlocks  freedom—while growing your business.

Listen now.

Show Highlights include:

  • Why prioritizing generational wealth may hurt your family more than anything else ([6:17])
  • The pure magic of worrying less (and how to use it to make more time for your most cherished activities ) ([11:50])
  • The simple, yet difficult way small business owners can build a legacy (without sacrificing their vacation or time with their family) ([14:13])
  • How comparing your business to riding a bike helps you break through your goals ([15:36])
  • The truth behind growing your business by working less (even if you think it might collapse without you) ([18:30])

DLP051 - Tuning up your business

TRANSCRIPT:

Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money? Welcome to “Retire in Texas”, where you will discover how to enjoy your faith, your family, and your freedom in the State of Texas—and, now, here’s your host, financial advisor, author, and all-around good Texan, Darryl Lyons.

 

Darryl: Hey, this is Darryl Lyons, and you’re listening to Retire in Texas. Thank you so much for tuning in today. I always have to tell you that this information is general in nature only. It’s not intended to provide specific investment, tax, or legal advice. Please see your professional for individualized advice and visit PAXFinancialGroup.com for more information.

I also want to remind you that if you need to speak with one of our advisors, they do have a heart of a teacher. You just text 74868 and just put in there “Texas”. They’ll connect with you, good conversation, no obligation. [00:59].5]

Today, Rich Allen joined us. I’m excited because we have a mutual friend, several mutual friends, as we talked about, that we both hold in high regard and very much influencers, and on not only a local level, but national level, Aaron Walker and Dan Miller, and I’d have both those guys on the podcast, but they’re not Texans, so I can’t bring them on. Maybe we’ll have a special one, but they’re both great guys, and Rich. I met Rich through Dan, so thank you again for being on today.

Rich: My pleasure. Thanks for having me, Darryl.

Darryl: Now, are you originally from Texas?

Rich: Unfortunately, no. I will say I got here as quick as my journey would allow me, but I’ve been here for about 35 years now.

Darryl: Okay. Where did you come from originally?

Rich: Originally from just outside of Cleveland, Ohio.

Darryl: Okay. I really enjoy [Canton]. I know this isn’t close to Cleveland. How close is Canton to Cleveland?

Rich: Not far.

Darryl: Okay.

Rich: Not far.

Darryl: I love going to the NFL Hall of Fame. It’s a cool place to go. I told you I collect sports cards, so, yeah.

Rich: Right.

Darryl: What was it like growing up? Did you have siblings?

Rich: I did. Darryl, I actually come from a fairly large family. I’ve got 11 brothers and sisters. [02:03].2]

Darryl: No kidding.

Rich: Right.

Darryl: That’s cool.

Rich: I know, so it was a pretty wild ride growing up, let’s just say.

Darryl: I noticed when I asked you the question, you immediately smiled to say, All right, I’ve got something for you. So, 11. Where were you in that 11?

Rich: I have one older brother and 10 younger siblings. My youngest brother is 20 years younger than I am.

Darryl: Oh, okay.

Rich: Yeah, so there’s about a 22-year gap between the 12 of us.

Darryl: Do y’all have any family reunions? Do y’all ever get together?

Rich: We’re not a close family, I would say. When you grow up with that many and you’re around all the time, the first thing you’d want to do is break out of there and go away. We have this running joke as a family that if you move to a state outside of Ohio, you own the state and no one can come in unless they request permission. That’s why I picked Texas. It’s a big state and, frankly, it’s the best state in the U.S. to be in, so I got there first. [03:01].6]

Darryl: I love it. What did your parents do, growing up?

Rich: Actually, my mom, you know what she did. She basically raised kids.

Darryl: Yeah.

Rich: My dad worked multiple jobs while we were growing up, but then when he was 36 years old, my dad decided to quit working for someone else and he started his own business. He started a window-washing business. At 36, age 36, he probably had eight kids by that time or so and he basically said, “I’ve got a dream. I want to build a business and leave a legacy for my children,” and so we lived the life of an entrepreneur, a guy who knew his trade really well. You probably have met a lot of these folks, know their trade really well, have no clue how to run a business.

Darryl: Know their trade really well, but don’t know how to run a business. That happens all the time.

Rich: Everywhere.

Darryl: And so, you saw the ups and downs firsthand. By the time he started that business, I didn’t catch the age connection there, were you financially independent? Were you still relying on him to pay the bills? [04:03].0]

Rich: Oh my gosh, no. I was what they call free labor.

Darryl: Yeah.

Rich: I was in high school, I think, at the time. My older brother and I were my dad’s first two employees. We got paid the meager wage of dinner when we got home, and that was it, right? And our job was just simply to help him put food on the table and have enough money to raise the family, and to be honest, that didn’t always happen. We came home a couple of times to find all of our belongings on the curb. We had been evicted.

Darryl: Oh, no.

Rich: Because we hadn’t paid the bills, and so we’d simply unload the van, fill it up with our furniture, go find a place to live and move, so we moved quite often, as you can imagine.

Darryl: Wow, that’s unbelievable. You’re experiencing this and then you graduate high school. What do you do after high school?

Rich: Believe it or not, I mean, there was no chance I was going to college. Impossible.

Darryl: Yeah, I understand. Yeah.

Rich: Quick story. Yeah, I had a friend who wanted to apply for the ROTC scholarship to go into the Army, and so he needed a ride to the recruiter’s office to do that. I borrowed the family car, took him there, and I was sitting in the waiting room and the recruiting officer said, “Geez, why don’t you take the test while you’re here?” I said, “Not interested, thanks.” [05:18].4]

This was right about the time of just after the Vietnam War. We lived near Kent State near the Kent State riots. That was all fresh in our minds. I didn’t want anything to do with the military, but he convinced me to take the test, and believe it or not, Darryl, I ended up– Three weeks later, the recruiter showed up at my high school. They had an assembly. They called me up, they gave me an award, a full-ride scholarship to go to any school I wanted to in the United States, 288 schools to pick from, four-year full-ride scholarship just to go into the military for a year.

Darryl: And you did it.

Rich: And I got out a map, put every one of the schools on the map, drew a line to the one that was furthest from where I lived, and I picked Arizona State University and that was how I got there. I knew nothing of the school, but I figured this was my opportunity. God was pointing me in a direction and I just basically took the lead and just said, “Let’s go.” [06:16].8]

Darryl: So, you got away, and I can certainly appreciate that, that feeling. So, Arizona State, then after that, you did your service right after that?

Rich: I did. I was in the Army Corps of Engineers, served four years active, two years reserve, and as I was getting out, I was recruited. I was interviewing for jobs, happened to be interviewing in Colorado for a position, and a recruiter from Texas Instruments ended up– I sat with him and talked for a while. He said, “Geez, would you like to come help me do some recruiting?” I said, “Sure, I’d love that.” He hired me to come be his assistant to help him recruit engineers to come to Texas, so that’s what got me the TI in Texas.

Darryl: On your LinkedIn profile, I mean, you’re not a job hopper—you spent time and considerable time invested in wherever you’ve been—but they’re very impressive roles that you’ve played. Texas Instruments was a big part of your life. How many years were you there? [07:11].7]

Rich: I was there for 13 years. My intention was to stay there until I retired. I was vice president at a very young age, was moving up quickly. I knew the CEO personally. I actually mentored his daughter, and at one point, I asked him if he would ever let me run one of his wafer fabs, one of his business units, and he said, “Without question, there’s no way you’re going to run one of those businesses without an engineering degree.”

So, I made the decision that, at that point, I wanted to see if I knew what it took to run a business, so that was my primary goal. It just so happened I got recruited away to go work for a privately-held company up in Iowa called Pella Corporation with the promise that they would allow me to run a business, the French front <unclear [07:59].0>.

Darryl: Was your ambition just to see what God put in you or were you focused on making sure that you had a good income so you wouldn’t have to struggle? [08:07].6]

Rich: No, really, what it was, Darryl, I was vice president of human resources and I was principally responsible for all the new business development at TI, so my job was to assemble teams for new technologies. When I did that, I would put these teams together as run by engineers and I would find myself frustrated at how poorly they were at managing the team, and I thought, Geez, rather than just advising these guys, what if I had the chance to do it myself? I wonder if I’d be good at this, and that was it. I wanted to see, because I was giving them advice like I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t know. I’d hate to say I was making it up, but pretty much I was, and I just wanted to see if I had what it took.

Darryl: You were facilitating dialogue, getting them to critically think. Would that describe it?

Rich: Yeah, how to engage with people, how to motivate people, how to build a team of people that were radically engaged in the business, those kinds of things. [09:06].0]

Darryl: You were just building on your business experience. The company in Iowa, what did they do?

Rich: It was Pella Corporation, so they made windows.

Darryl: Yep.

Rich: All the windows.

Darryl: Kind of funny how you went into the window business, right?

Rich: Yeah, given that my dad washed windows for a living. I mean, it was ironic as could be that I found myself working for the company who made the product that my dad has made his living on.

Darryl: I would imagine that that was very ironic. Yeah, I don’t know, God just laughs at these things right now. How long were you there?

Rich: I was there for 10 years. I started as a vice president of Human Resources. After about three years, we got ourselves recognized on Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work. Things were going really well. We were killing it. We had a plan to grow the business to a billion-dollar business and we were in active acquisition mode, so we ended up acquiring a business up in Minnesota, and so my boss, the CEO, came into my office one day with a key in his hand and said, “Rich, this one’s yours. You get to go run this one,” so I had my chance to go run a $30-million family business, about 200 employees, and they made storm doors based out of Minnesota. [10:18].0]

Darryl: Was that near Minneapolis?

Rich: Yes, in St. Paul and our family lived in Stillwater just outside of the Twin Cities.

Darryl: I always thought that was a beautiful area. I know I might be fast-forwarding a little bit, but how did you get back to Texas?

Rich: Believe it or not, the business did really well. We grew the business nicely for seven years. By that time we had two factories, one in Iowa, one in Ohio, and then with the corporate office, I was always gone. One day I came home, wanted to put my young daughter to bed, read her a book. She wouldn’t let me. I asked her why, and she said, “You’re no longer my dad. You’re my uncle.”

Darryl: Oh.

Rich: And she had demoted me. 

Darryl: Oh. Oh. [11:00].4]

Rich: Because I was never home, and, Darryl, honestly, that was like a stake in the heart. I realized in that moment that I had to make a choice. I either have to stay on this path where I was making a lot of money, financially secure, living the great corporate life, flying around on company planes, or I could have a life where I could enjoy my family and really have a relationship with them, and I chose that.

Darryl: I still see a lot of young men and women that are right in the thick of that right now, and they feel trapped because they have this income that supports that lifestyle and they’re traveling. I know they’re listening to this going, “Yeah, I can totally relate.” Continuing down that story, really seeing how your childhood impacted some of the decisions that you made. Then how did you get to Texas? [11:53].2]

Rich: I took a couple of months. We did that, and you’re right, my growing up years did impact that. My dad never participated in anything I did as a kid. He couldn’t, he was always working. I was a big track runner. He never saw me race, killed me as a kid. I didn’t want to do that to my kids, so I became the soccer coach, the basketball coach. I became a Cookie Dad for my daughter’s Brownie troop. I wanted to let them know I was their dad.

Then, meanwhile, after about a year, my wife and I said, “Let’s say some prayers, ask God where he wants us to serve.” About three months later, my wife came to me and said, “I know where we’re supposed to be,” and I said, “Great.” She said, “I’m not supposed to tell you,” so for another month she didn’t say anything and then one day she came in and she said, “It’s Frisco, Texas.”

Darryl: Oh.

Rich: And I said, “Are you sure He didn’t say Frisco, Colorado?” I said, “I know where that’s at. It’s a really cool place near the mountainside. Is it not there?” She said, “No, it’s Frisco, Texas.”

So, we put the kids with a neighbor, came down for a weekend. We said, “We’ve got to find a house, a church, and a school,” and believe it or not, those theory things fell into line. Even if I were to tell you the story, it’d blow you off your chair, but God made a way and we moved ourselves to Frisco, Texas. [13:11].6]

Darryl: Wow. It’s kind of interesting how you look back. I’m sure at the time it was like, How is this going to work out? and then it all worked out. Obviously, that hindsight is like, I shouldn’t have worried that much. People always ask me as a business owner, “Darryl, if you could give me one piece of advice.” They ask it this way. “If you could do something different, what’s the one thing you would do different?” and I always tell them I would worry less. I know it’s easy to do in retrospect, but it’s neat to see how that is orchestrated. So, you officially retired from where?

Rich: I officially retired from Pella Corporation.

Darryl: Okay.

Rich: I was 50 years old.

Darryl: Fifty.

Rich: Yep, I was 50. We retired at age 5o. Then we moved down here I think when I turned 52, and for the first year, I bought a motorcycle. I was just doing nothing. I truly was retired. We joined a church down here that was reconstructing a new facility. I became free labor. I’d just get every day, put on my work boots, get on my motorcycle, come down and swing a hammer. [14:10].5]

I did that for six months, and then I realized all the guys that I was playing golf with, everybody that I was hanging out with were a lot older. They were talking a lot about their medical ailments, the things that weren’t working, the things that weren’t functioning the way they used to, those kinds of things, and I thought, You know what? This is a long time to ride in this group.

About that time, somebody said, “Hey, I know a friend that is trying to sell a license to do business coaching. I think you’d be good at it. Maybe you ought to look into it,” and so I bought this guy’s license and started doing business coaching on the side, just for fun, just to stay busy.

Darryl, here’s the deal. For the first couple of years I was doing, I was financially set. I didn’t need to work anymore. I found, though, that there were a lot of small business owners like my dad. My dad became my model for my ideal customer, guys that were working their tail off. Their business was their legacy. It was their retirement. [15:06].7]

I found so many guys, and I say guys, they’re guys and gals, but I mainly worked with men. There were so many guys who weren’t paying themselves. All they were doing was to make enough to keep the business going and make payroll, and so I made a deal with all of them, every one of them that I worked with, and I said, “Look, you can’t pay me until we’re paying you.” I just started working with them, trying to help them make the business work. I got good at it where I figured out how to use the bike as a real tool, and that was how I started this business.

Darryl: Tell me about the bike as a tool.

Rich: The bike actually became, back when I was going to run a business at Pella, when they gave me the opportunity to run that business, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was winging it. I walked in, I had no clue what I was going to do to make the business better, and more than that, I didn’t have a clue how to get the people in the business to understand what we were trying to accomplish. [16:00].7]

Then, one day, this thing hit me while I was taking a shower one morning and I said, “Ah, a business is just like a bicycle,” and so I started to go through my bike and, sure enough, every component of the bike represents a part, a critical part of a business. I just started diagramming it out and, sure enough, I found this model that now, when I talk about a business, I really talk about a bicycle.

You know you steer it with your handle bars. How do you steer business? You steer it with a vision and strong leadership.

The front wheel of the bike is our ability to win new customers. The back wheel of our bike is our ability to serve those customers.

The people sit on the seat, so we have to have it positioned well. Okay, how do you position a seat? You adjust the compensation plan, the rewarded structure, the communication plan, and everything ties together.

I started talking to my team rather than talking business strategy, which nobody understood. They all thought it was like speaking Greek to them. I showed them this bike and I just said, “Hey, guys, let’s make this bike. Let’s tune it up and let’s make it go really fast.” [17:08].0]

Darryl: You have a book that you’ve written about this idea, right?

Rich: I do.

Darryl: What is it called?

Rich: Yeah, my dad passed away probably six years ago, and when my dad passed away, I wrote a book. I called it The Ultimate Business Tune Up. But what I did was I basically told my dad’s story and I used the examples that he did in his business, the things he didn’t get right, the things he did do well, but I related each one of them to the bike and how that works and trying to give small business owners a practical tool to use to help them strengthen and tune up their business.

Darryl: A couple things. First of all, I enjoy riding my bike. I have for years. Switched between cycling and mountain biking. But if business owners are listening to this right now and saying, “I need to talk to this guy,” what’s the best way for them to connect with you?

Rich: The easy way, just go to my business name is called Tour de Profit. [18:02].5]

Darryl: Tour de Profit.

Rich: It’s Tour de Profit, T-O-U-R, D-E, Profit, P-R-O-F-I-T. Then you just go to TourdeProfit.com. That’s where you’ll find me, and there’s actually a free assessment on there where you can do a quick assessment of whether you’ve built a business that has a radically engaged team. To me, that’s the message, right?

As business owners, just like you, you’re not meeting with every client. You’re running a business. You’re running an interlock. If we have a true business, we’ve got other people that are handling and dealing with our customers. We’re worried about the business, the strategy, the capitalization, how we’re structured. And that’s what we have to do—we have to build a team of people who are so committed to our business success that they wanted to succeed as much as we do. That’s what I like helping people do.

Darryl: Now, seeing your passion in this space, will you ever retire again? [18:59].0]

Rich: I can’t imagine I will, only because what I’ve found is every time I get a chance to meet with a business owner, somebody who has either started their own business or bought one, and we see the impact that we can have by trying, just making some small adjustments in different parts of their bike, it gives me so much pleasure.

My win is in their success, right? This isn’t for me to make money. I can make a lot more money doing something else. I call this kind of retirement fun for me, but I end up working full out five days a week, 40 hours a week probably. But I’ve got a smile on my face every day. I can’t imagine why I would do anything different.

Darryl: What does the future look like for you? Anything particular that you want to accomplish?

Rich: Yeah, we’ve got a couple of really good things. You mentioned Dan Miller, mutual friends. Dan and I, since we partnered up here at the beginning of this year, we set up basically an investment group where we are investing and mentoring small businesses. [20:01].9]

We’re investing in them. We’re taking an active role in helping them make the business better and our whole goal is simply to let them experience what it means to have a business that truly does grow and achieve their dreams, and so we’re playing a mini version of Shark Tank, if you will.

Darryl: I love it.

Rich: We’re having a ton of fun. We’re all learning a lot through the process, but we’re also having an impact on the lives of some folks who have put everything into making their business work.

Darryl: They say that the definition of retirement is the disposition of an asset over its useful life. You’re definitely not retired. Your life is still very useful, and so it’s an example of what I want to encourage those that are listening that are thinking about retiring, just to imagine how much fun Rich is having and how much vigor is still left in him. Your ability to give back and making a meaningful impact on the next generation is applauded, and so thank you for that. [21:00].4]

Rich: Thank you. To me, Darryl, this is all about leaving a legacy for my father. My dad taught me a ton. I loved that man.

Darryl: And you honored him through your book.

Rich: And everything I do, everybody that achieves what they wanted is a tribute to the work that my dad put in.

Darryl: I love it. Now, I have one more question, last question.

Rich: Yeah.

Darryl: What’s your favorite salsa?

Rich: There you go, hit me with a hard question at the end.

Darryl: Yeah.

Rich: Actually, my favorite salsa comes from a place called Moe’s Tacos.

Darryl: Huh.

Rich: If you ever get to Dallas, you have to try out Moe’s Tacos, but it’s probably not the salsa as much as it is that he has found the best spicy chips to go with the salsa.

Darryl: Huh, all right.

Rich: The spicy chip with a good salsa, it’s indescribable.

Darryl: We’re recording this at [3:30] PM Central Time and you’ve already got my stomach growling.

Rich: Yeah. [22:00].7]

Darryl: Thank you so much, Rich, for hanging out with me. It’s been an honor and pleasure. Hope that we can continue to stay in touch.

Rich: Thank you, Darryl. It’s been a pleasure.

Darryl: And those that stayed to the end, thank you. Again, you’re listening to Retire in Texas, and my name’s Darryl Lyons, and I want to remind you, if you need to speak to an advisor, there’s no pressure there, but text “Texas” to 74868. They have the heart of a teacher. I think you’ll appreciate the dialogue. That’s “Texas” to 74868.

I just want to remind you that you think different when you think long term. Have a great day.

 

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