Matt Millsap (pictured, center, with operations manager Kyle Swarm and senior construction maanger Tony Hirsch) left his safe job with a large company just as the recession was getting started in December 2008. He just wasn’t happy with the types of clients he was working with. “They wouldn’t appreciate ... any of the small things that differentiate us from our competitors. I wanted to remodel for people who appreciate quality,” he says.
Thus, Building Company No. 7 was formed. In those fledgling years, a strong online presence was able to generate upwards of 90% of the leads Millsap’s company was using. In the first four years in business, Building Company No. 7 experienced 600% growth and was almost a victim of growing too fast.
“We learned it wasn’t smart to grow that fast,” Millsap says. “We had to pump the brakes in 2013. As I pumped the brakes, we went from 270 to 100 to 50 jobs a year. Last year I think we did 25 jobs. Our revenue was increasing, our job size was growing.”
That slowdown combined with a focus on quality led Millsap to a growing market for detached dwellings. With the rise of AirBnB, clients in Nashville are taking garages and turning them into perfect short-term rentals. “People are doing the math. [By renting] three weekends a month, they can pay for a detached garage.”
- Networking has been key in helping Millsap find the best employees for his company. “Reach out to your colleagues. Once they find a hire, they may find somebody who’s perfect but they’ve already hired. Networking is huge.”
- As the company has grown in reputation, digital advertising has taken a backseat to word of mouth and references. “It used to be 90:10 internet to word of mouth. Now it’s reversed. They hear about us and then they get on the website,” Millsap says.
- With emails and smartphones, clients sometimes feel like they have a right to contact a project manager at any time of day or night. Millsap makes sure to set boundaries so his team has time to recharge. “Customers think it’s ok to call at night. They want to meet on Saturdays and Sundays. Our workday starts at 7. We’ve put some boundaries in place to help those guys. When you can do that, you’ll be more effective because you’re recharged.”