Episode 199 – Derrick Todd
Welcome to another episode of The HERO Show. I am your host Richard Matthews, (@AKATheAlchemist) and you are listening to episode 199 with Derrick Todd – Unifying the Pool Industry through Consolidation & Professionalism.
Derrick Todd is the founder of Aquanut Academy—a swimming pool service business consulting that helps business owners grow their companies.
Over the past 15 years, he has taken his pool service business from a part-time thing to a 7 figure business encompassing both service and retail. He hit a lot of bumps on the way but learned how to do business right.
The way that he got those good results is by focusing on key aspects of business: Optimizing Routes, Controlling Cash, Buying Right, Pricing Right, Finding Customers, and Building a Team.
Derrick just recently sold his pool care business that he built up to seven figures with his wife over the last 13 years and moved to a 40-foot sailing yacht and started traveling around the world!
Here’s just a taste of what we talked about today:
Known for a Being a Master Pool Technician
Derrick has been known for building traditional mom-and-pop businesses and being a master pool technician.
The pool industry is pretty much nothing that he doesn’t know about. But what he has uniquely done among his colleagues is built a successful business instead of just being a chuck in a truck type of deal.
He was also able to be in the service industry by building a service technician business that is serving his community, having several employees, and a retail store presence.
Becoming a Mentee
Derrick’s origin story goes a little further back than when he got into the pool business. The mentoring and coaching side of his business started in 1999 when he met a guy named Mike.
Mike was the first real father figure mentor who took Derrick under his wing. He basically shook off all of the rust, took a clump of clay, and molded it into somebody or something that wanted to learn and absorb knowledge.
From that, Derrick started mentoring other people in a completely different business model. Around 2002, he started out in the pool industry working for a big pool builder in Columbia, South Carolina. He worked there for two years and then started his own gig in 2008.
Other Topics We Covered on the Show:
- Derrick shared a little bit about his first profitable and lucrative business when he was in high school which illicitly translated to skills he used for real business later in his life.
- Then, we talked about Derrick’s superpower — his ability to take a business from nothing and turn it into something profitable.
- Next, we talked about Derrick’s fatal flaw in his business. Being a bit hot-headed and being a workaholic has been his greatest struggles. He has gotten better over the past two decades by surrounding himself with good people and reading good books.
- Pool care and local business owners’ negative thoughts on keeping their business small have been Derrick’s arch-nemesis at Aquanut Academy.
- Derrick’s driving force in his business is to rid the world of pool pirates and to unify the pool industry through consolidation and professionalism.
- The differences between a business coach, a mentor, and a hero and the reason why business owners should have all three of these people.
- Lastly, Derrick’s guiding principle taken from a quote, “The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and living your life fully”.
Derrick mentioned the following book/s on the show.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
- The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz
- The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
The HERO Challenge
Today on the show, Derrick Todd challenged Mark to be a guest on The HERO Show. Derrick thinks that Mark is a fantastic person to interview because he has built a large swimming pool business on the commercial side of the industry and he has also helped me figure out some of the finances in the latter part of my business. He would be a great guest for the show.
How To Stay Connected with Derrick Todd
Want to stay connected with Derrick? Please check out their social profiles below.
- Website: AquanutAcademy.com
- Email: Derrick@AquanutAcademy.com
- Facebook: Facebook.com/TheRealDerrickTodd
With that… let’s go and listen to the full episode…
Derrick Todd 0:00
I want to unify the pool industry through consolidation and bringing professionalism to the pool industry. Earlier I mentioned the chuck in a truck in our industry, we call them one polers or guy that will show up and he’s not really a pool pirate, he’s there to do a great job. But he’s gonna jump out of the truck, rip jeans, wife beater, cigarette in his hand, or maybe a joint in his hand, walking into a customer’s backyard. I’m not even making that up. And it gives our whole industry a bad look. And to help those guys who are masters in their craft, but not masters on the business side. Bring those guys up and help them become more professional. And not do some of the many horror stories that I’ve heard both personally and through the various groups that I either run or I’m a part of.
Richard Matthews 1:32
Heroes are an inspiring group of people, every one of them from the larger than life comic book heroes you see on the big silver screen, the everyday heroes that let us live the privileged lives we do. Every hero has a story to tell, the doctor saving lives at your local hospital, the war veteran down the street, who risked his life for our freedom to the police officers, and the firefighters who risked their safety to ensure ours every hero is special and every story worth telling. But there was one class of heroes that I think is often ignored the entrepreneur, the creator, the producer, the ones who look at the problems in this world and think to themselves, you know what, I can fix that, I can help people, I can make a difference. And they go out and do exactly that by creating a new product or introducing a new service. Some go on to change the world, others make a world of difference to their customers. Welcome to the Hero Show. Join us as we pull back the masks on the world’s finest hero preneurs and learn the secrets to their powers, their success, and their influence. So you can use those secrets to attract more sales, make more money, and experience more freedom in your business. I’m your host, Richard Matthews, and we are on in 3…2…1…
Richard Matthews 2:26
Hello and welcome back to the Hero Show. My name is Richard Matthews. And today I have the pleasure of having a good friend of mine. Mr. Derrick Todd. Derek, are you there?
Derrick Todd 2:34
Richard Matthews 2:35
Awesome. Glad to have you here. For people who are following on with our podcast, we were actually staying at Derrick’s house for several of our podcast recordings last year. Now we are actually in California and you guys are back in South Carolina. Right?
Derrick Todd 2:50
Yeah, we’re in Greenville, on the other side of the country.
Richard Matthews 2:54
Other side of the country now, which I’m sure we’ll be back together, hanging out again at some point. I want to do a couple of brief introductory things for my audience who may or may not know you. So Derrick Todd is the founder of Aquanut Academy. He just recently in the last year sold his pool care business that he built up to seven figures with his wife over the last. Was it 13 or 14 years that you built that company?
Derrick Todd 3:20
13 years, yep.
Richard Matthews 3:22
13 years ago, you sold it last year and you guys moved on to a 40 foot sailing yacht and started traveling around that way, which is similar to our future plans. So anyway, to have you start with Derrick is why don’t you tell me what it is that you guys are known for now? What’s your business like? Who do you serve? What do you do for them?
Derrick Todd 3:44
Well, what I’m known for now, and probably would have been known for a while is building traditional businesses, traditional mom and pop businesses. And I’m known for being a master pool technician. So as far as my business, the pool industry is pretty much nothing that I don’t know about. But what I’ve done that is unique among my colleagues is I’ve actually built a business instead of just being a chuck in a truck type of deal. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I’ve built a business around that. And I’ve been able to make that a very, very successful business. So that’s what I’m known for.
Richard Matthews 4:33
Yeah, and that’s how you specifically in the service industry, not just being a service technician, but building a service tech business that is serving your community, has several employees, and a retail store presence in the whole bin.
Derrick Todd 4:50
Richard Matthews 4:52
Awesome. And so what I want to start with then is your origin story. We talked on the show all the time, which I know you’ve listened to several times. Every good comic book hero has an origin story. It’s a thing that made them into the hero they are today. We want to hear that story. Were you bit by a radioactive spider that made you want to get into pool care? Or did you start a job and eventually move over into becoming an entrepreneur? Basically, where’d you come from?
Derrick Todd 5:15
Alright, well, it actually goes a little further back than when I got into the pool business. So the whole mentoring side of it, the coaching side of it actually started in 1999, when I met a guy named Mike, and Mike was the first real father figure mentor to me, that kind of took me under his wing. And he basically shook off all of the rust, he took this clump of clay and actually molded it into somebody or something that wanted to learn, absorb knowledge. And from that, I started mentoring other people in a completely different business model. And then in 2002 or 2003, something like that. I actually got started in the pool industry working for another company in Columbia, South Carolina, a big pool builder. And they just did a little bit of service work, worked there for a year and a half, two years, and then started my own gig in 2008. And that’s what brings us full circle.
Richard Matthews 6:31
Only because I know you really well, I want to bring this up because it’s similar to my story. And my listeners know I got my start in business buying candy wholesale and selling them on campus retail. And I know you had a similar start, but you were selling cigarettes on campus as a high schooler is that right?
Derrick Todd 6:49
I did that in high school. That wasn’t my first business. But that was my first profitable, lucrative business.
Richard Matthews 7:00
Derrick Todd 7:01
Yeah. I do not recommend that path. I was the number one cigarette salesman in my high school.
Richard Matthews 7:13
It cracks me up every time I hear it.
Derrick Todd 7:19
I would buy cases of not cartons, cases, and then I would distribute the cartons to people who would go sell the cigarettes for me throughout the course of the day. I don’t know if we should be talking about this.
Richard Matthews 7:34
Here’s my question. I want to know, did any of the skills you picked up in high school selling cigarettes illicitly translated to skills you actually use for real business later on in your life?
Derrick Todd 7:45
Yeah, that was my first employee. First I guess you can call them 10:99 subcontractors. So I had to source products, I had to distribute products, I had to manage a team.
Richard Matthews 8:06
Like all sorts of good skills that translated. It’s quite an origin story if you from there all the way to running a seven figure pool business and being sort of an icon in your community. I remember when we were staying in your town everywhere we went. Every time I was with Derrick, it’d be like, oh, hey, Derrick. Literally, everyone knew you. It was weird. And Greenville is not a small town either. But when you run a successful business in a community, you become one of the community pillars, which is a cool thing to be.
Derrick Todd 8:37
Richard Matthews 8:40
So I want to find out about your superpowers, every iconic hero has a superpower whether that’s a fancy flying suit made by their genius intellect, or the ability to call them thunder from the sky or super strength in the real world heroes have what I call a zone of genius, which is either a skill or a set of skills that were born with or developed over the course of your career, that really energize all of your other skills, they’re the things that allow you to slay your client’s villains, help them come up on top in their journeys. And the way I like to frame it for my guests is, if you look at all the skills that you have, there’s probably a common thread that ties them all together. And that common thread is where you find your superpower. So with that sort of framing, what do you think your superpower is in your business?
Derrick Todd 9:18
The ability to start and build businesses. I’ve owned I think it’s 15 businesses, it might be 16 now, only about I don’t know half a dozen of those actually, were LLC businesses. But I’ve built a lot of businesses and the ability to take a business from nothing from an idea on a napkin to profitable is probably my zone of genius. It sounds weird when I phrase it that way and then the flip side of that is that we talked earlier about me managing a team. I’ve learned how to manage a team over time through various ventures and different things that I’ve done.
Richard Matthews 10:13
You got that in the book, right?
Derrick Todd 10:16
Yeah, my first mentor was a multi-level marketing deal. I built a team there. And being able to run that business with that team, and then ultimately running the large team that I built with the business that I just sold. I don’t know when it was about a year ago now actually getting close to a year ago.
Richard Matthews 10:43
Crazy how time flies, isn’t it?
Derrick Todd 10:45
Wow, it seems like just yesterday.
Richard Matthews 10:49
So with the skill of building a business, what do you think some of the things that people who are looking to build their business, like the skills that they should be focusing on that looking back on you wish you had learned to focus on earlier when you were building your businesses?
Derrick Todd 11:09
Probably outsourcing. Finding what you suck at, and letting somebody else do what you suck at. Because everything that you suck at, there’s somebody else out there, that is great at that. And everybody has things that they’re really good at, and they’re not good at. So focus on the things that you are good at. And the things that just take you hours to do and whatnot, life out of you.
Richard Matthews 11:45
So now how did learning that lesson impact your ability to grow your businesses?
Derrick Todd 11:49
It cost me a couple of years of working and really having to work a second job while I got my business off the ground because I was so bullheaded and stubborn. That I probably could have built the same size business five years faster. So instead of taking 13 years to build it to this seven figure company that I built it, I probably could have done it in seven.
Richard Matthews 12:26
Yeah, so it cost you years. Now my other question is, did it cost you years on the other side of your life where you’re like, my life’s gonna be shorter because you stretched yourself out too much?
Derrick Todd 12:37
Probably yeah. In all seriousness, there were times when I was working 90 hours per week I was running and running and gunning. And I had two, for lack of a better word heat strokes on customer’s properties. It was the first one I had to be rushed to the ER. And that’s just all of the process of thinking that you have to take on every single job. That is offered to you and not knowing where to trim. So there are customers that you want, customers that want you, and then customers that you don’t want and they don’t want you but you have to figure that out. And the customers that want you might not be good for your business. So, everybody that says hey, I’ll pay you X amount of dollars to do this job for me. You have to start, you have to be able to say no, I don’t know if I start saying no, maybe it is. But that’s where I had to give.
Richard Matthews 13:50
Just learn how to say what to say yes to and what to say no to. And I know I’ve learned the same thing in my business. I’ve learned what to focus on and the stuff, particularly for me, it’s like what stuff actually lines up with where I want to take the business in the future and what stuff distracts from it. And sometimes that’s hard because I’ve got opportunities that are really big sitting in front of me and really exciting. And I’m like I don’t know if they fit or not. So I’m having some of those discussions right now.
Derrick Todd 14:16
Yeah, for sure.
Richard Matthews 14:18
So the flip side of your superpower is generally your fatal flaw so if your superpower is building the businesses and knowing what goes into that the fatal flaw is like every Superman has his kryptonite or wonder woman can’t remove her bracelets of victory without going mad. You probably have a flaw that’s held you back in your business, something that you struggled with. For me, it was a couple of things. I struggled with perfectionism for a long time. Because I can always speak it a little bit more before I send it to market and then I never send anything to market. I also struggled with lack of self-care, which for me, came out in not having a good relationship with my boundaries to time and my boundaries to my client’s whatnot. So I let my clients walk over me, let my time walk over just sounds like you had a similar problem. But I think more important than what the flaw was is how you work to overcome it so that our listeners might learn a little from your experience.
Derrick Todd 15:11
That’s a big one. And it’s not something that I’m proud of. And I don’t know if I have overcome some of it. Number one, I’ve got a temper. So it’s a temper fueled by passion, I think, or at least I’d like to think. So I’m a little bit hot-headed. I’ve lost some customers over that. I’ve gotten better over the past two decades, by surrounding myself with some really good people and reading a lot of really good books. Like, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I have literally read that book and listened to it a dozen times at least.
Richard Matthews 16:12
I love that book. That required reading in school, I don’t understand why it isn’t.
Derrick Todd 16:18
I’ve got my theories, but it definitely wasn’t for me, I didn’t even know that book existed until I started getting mentors in my life. Another fatal flaw is probably laziness. On the flip side of that, I am a workaholic. So whenever I start a job, I’ll go until I pass out. And you’ve actually seen this because we were working on I don’t know if we were working on your RV or something. And I just grabbed whatever it was, maybe it was the AC or whatnot. And we just went and went and went, we were sweating. And we were getting it done. And I’ll just laser focus on it until it’s either fixed or I drop.
Richard Matthews 17:19
You die on the roof. Yeah, I remember that. I was like, hey, we should take a break and go eat lunch, you’re like, no, we’re gonna finish it. I was like, no, we’re gonna get that thing done.
Derrick Todd 17:28
And the laziness aspect of it. Whenever I sold my business, so I sold my business moved on to this beautiful 44-foot sailing yacht with my family, and all of that, go, go, go, go go, that I had running my business. And then I want to be out there and I want to be doing it. All of that was gone. So I had nothing to hold me accountable. So it was like, goes back to those things. Those who don’t know what to do, don’t do. So that was me. And I kind of fiddled with stuff I’m working on the boat, I’m doing this and that, but I’m like, oh, man, I really need to get my hands dirty again. So maybe that is part of the whole workaholic thing, I’m not I’m not sure. But those are my two fatal flaws. And I don’t have an answer.
Richard Matthews 18:36
I have a theory on laziness. I actually think laziness is a superpower if applied properly. The reason I think that is because I’m kinda the same way, inherently, I’m a lazy person. But at the same time, I’m also like, I will work you under a table. And so like if you apply that, if I use my desire to be lazy to work really hard. Then I work really hard on systems that allow me to not have to do those things ever again. That I could sit back and look at and be like, look at this beautiful thing that I have made, and it will continue to go without me. So I sort of think laziness is a superpower if you apply it properly.
Derrick Todd 19:21
Yeah, for sure.
Richard Matthews 19:24
I do the same thing with my kids. We get told all the time, they’re so well behaved. I’m like, that’s because we’ve worked our ass off on discipline. Because it’s way more difficult to have unruly children than it is to have well-behaved children. So really, it’s because I’m lazy that we work so hard on discipline.
Derrick Todd 19:43
Yeah, maybe that’s it.
Derrick Todd 19:45
Yeah, I don’t know if that’s true or not, but that’s just my theory on life.
Derrick Todd 19:48
Richard Matthews 19:52
So I’m gonna shift gears and talk a little bit about your clients. And I want to put this in the context of other pool care and local business owners that you’ve started to get into the coaching side of this business. Every superhero has an arch-nemesis, it’s the thing that they have to constantly fight against in their world. It takes a lot of forms. But in business, we’re generally talking about a mindset or a flaw that your clients have, that are keeping them from getting the results they come to you for, that if you had your magic wand, and as soon they signed on the dotted line, you could bop them on the head and wouldn’t have to deal with that anymore. What is the common enemy for people who are trying to grow a local service business or retail business? Like, what you grew up to seven figures?
Derrick Todd 20:35
It’s simple. It’s their thoughts, the negative thoughts in their head. It is has been one of my biggest challenges in growing this business. Everybody wants my training and coaching whenever I put it out there and one of the Facebook groups that like yeah, man, that would be great. But they want it for free. And it’s like, oh, man, I have to pay something. And I’m not asking for a lot. I really want to help the industry. But the thought of, I just want to stay small and I don’t want to grow because if I hire somebody other than just me, well, now that’s a whole another thing. And I have to manage them. And all of a sudden I’ve got some taxes I have to worry about my business gets more complex. And those are all things that are going on in their mind that’s it’s not that big of a deal once you get through it. Yeah, it’s scary looking at it. But so was me buying a yacht, I’d never owned a yacht. But once I did it, it was way less scary. So the thoughts that are going on in people’s minds. It’s a little bit of I can’t afford it and it’s a little bit of I don’t need it, but it’s a whole lot of I don’t deserve to grow past just me. And if I could just bop them on the head and get that out of their skulls and open up their minds to say “hey, you can do this”.
Richard Matthews 22:31
It’s almost like a fear of the unknown. I’m going to put this in Robert Kiyosaki Cashflow Quadrant terms. When you’re just a chuck in the truck, it’s like an S-type business where they are the business, they go home at night, the business is done, it goes home with them. And making that transition into having a team and growing a larger organization that you leave the business continues that’s a B quadrant business. And that’s unknown, it’s that fear of the unknown that is like, Hey, I don’t know what that’s actually like. And I know myself and I made that transition, I started hiring people and putting a team together. It was like a revelation. I was like, oh, my God, I should have done this sooner. But it is, it was a fear of the unknown that kept me from doing it for a long time. And I had a mentor who actually pulled me aside and was like, hey, you’re your biggest bottleneck in your business. And here’s what I want you to do in the next 30 days, hire someone even if you don’t know how you’re going to pay them what you’re gonna have them do. Hire them because it will change your entire mindset on the business and you will understand it afterward. And I didn’t listen to him, I vacillated for three months before I hired someone and I hired someone and my whole business changed. And it wasn’t until I got on the other side that the perspective shifted to understand like, oh, this actually opens up a lot more opportunities to grow my business to serve my customers and to have a higher degree of service that you’re like, Oh, I get it now. And it’s not actually that scary, it’s actually easier.
Derrick Todd 23:57
There are a lot of technicians in my industry and very few business owners. So that’s what I’m fighting against.
Richard Matthews 24:08
So that gives me a good transition for my next question. So your common enemy is what you fight against, your driving force is what you fight for. Just like Spider Man fights Save New York or Batman fights to save Gotham or Google fights to index and categorize all the world’s information, what is it that you’re fighting for? With Aqua Net Academy and the coaching and the training that you offer now?
Derrick Todd 24:29
Two things really, number one, I want to rid the world of pool pirates.
Richard Matthews 24:36
Pool pirates? You have to explain that one.
Derrick Todd 24:39
Okay. So a pool pirate is a person or a company that is hell-bent on ripping off the pool owner. And they might not even be doing it consciously. See the pool business has such a low barrier of entry to get into that there’s just so many chuck in a trucks or one polers. And they’ll get stuff, and they’ll go out there. And they will go bid for a job, that they have no business bidding, they don’t even know what they’re doing. But they see the dollar signs, and they’ll bid it, they’ll take the deposit, they might actually even show up and do a couple of things and leave and never return the client’s phone call. So they’ve left with the money. And the clients are stuck with their problem not fixed, whatever that problem may be. I’ve actually seen it recently on a couple of pool builds, where it was a $30,000 check, the guy came, put a pool shell in, and just left, and without completing the job and one of my clients that I’m coaching her, she’s going in and she’s now finishing the job finishing up the pool, putting in the pump, the filter, all of that stuff. She’s doing that because the pool pirate who didn’t know what he was doing and had no intention of doing a complete job, just left the client stuck. And there are all different levels of that from somebody who just takes a two or $300 deposit and leaves to someone who has a bigger company but just sells a really garbage product. And that should not be on the market. Everybody knows that it shouldn’t be on the market. There’s a popular one that’s advertised all over Facebook. And it’s just a garbage product they’re a garbage company. I can’t say the name because of libel but yeah, I want to rid the world of pool pirates now that you know what a pool pirate is.
Richard Matthews 27:29
So that was one thing he said to two things were the rule of pool pirates almost the other part of that
Derrick Todd 27:33
I want to unify the pool industry through consolidation and bringing professionalism to the pool industry. Earlier I mentioned the chuck in a truck in our industry, we call them one polars or guy that will show up and he’s not really a pool pirate, he’s there to do a great job. But he’s gonna jump out of the truck, rip jeans, wife beater, cigarette in his hand, or maybe a joint in his hand, walking into a customer’s backyard. I’m not even making that up. And it gives our whole industry a bad look. And to help those guys who are masters in their craft, but not masters on the business side. Bring those guys up and help them become more professional. And not do some of the many horror stories that I’ve heard both personally and through the various groups that I either run or I’m a part of.
Richard Matthews 29:03
And when you take that step from being a guy who might be a master pool technician but doesn’t really have the business acumen to really grow their business and you sort of add that together with your mastery, then you can serve your clients better, you can make more money, which means you can have more influence in your local space. Like it gives you a lot of opportunities. I like the idea of bringing more professionalism to the space because Hollywood has their picture of the pool industry. It’s always these hot ripped teenage guys without their shirts on doing the pools, and I don’t think that’s probably the accurate picture either. But learning how to basically turn what is sort of like a wild west sort of style business because like you said what does it take to get into the pool space? The ability to have a car to drive and to buy a $19 pole that you can scoop stuff out of the pool with a really low barrier to entry so it attracts a lot of people.
Derrick Todd 30:01
Yeah. And those videos that your listeners might have watched at home, those don’t happen. I’ve been looking for 20 years and haven’t found one in real life.
Richard Matthews 30:16
What is that? I can’t remember the name of the stuff but the soap operas. Soap operas always have the pool boy. It’s like that’s just not reality.
Derrick Todd 30:27
Nope. We have guts, we’re bald, our hands are dirty, we smell like chlorine most of the time.
Richard Matthews 30:36
Yeah, and if you ever have questions about chemistry, you can always call your pool guy cuz they know. I just called Derrick the other day, I was like, hey, I need to put some chlorine in my tank, what should I do? He’s like, show me the label.
Derrick Todd 30:36
Yeah, for sure.
Richard Matthews 30:51
I want to talk about some practical things for your business. And just like every superhero has a tool belt with awesome gadgets like their batarangs or web slingers, or laser eyes or the big magical hammer. I want to about the top one or two tools you couldn’t live without when you were building and growing your business could be anything for your notepad, your calendar to your marketing tools or something you use for product delivery, a tool that you thought was essential to getting your job done on a daily or weekly basis.
Derrick Todd 31:17
Well, my notepad was definitely my daily thing. I ran my business out of a notepad for a long time before I got some more sophisticated and digital processes in place, but I still use a notepad, I’m using one right now actually.
Richard Matthews 31:42
What kind of things do you keep track of in your notepad?
Derrick Todd 31:46
Everything from when a customer called to when I showed up on their property, what I did on their property, when I left their property, what I charged them. Everything was through the notepad. If I had an idea of something that I needed to do I’d write it down on my notepad, which also doubled as a calendar. So it was a notepad calendar combo. So like, if Friday I know that I need to do something with Mrs. Smith’s pool so I go to the Friday page and write that down in the margins or whatnot. So in the notepad for sure.
Richard Matthews 32:35
I’m curious because you wrote everything down. Did having all that stuff written down your notepad ever save your ass?
Derrick Todd 32:41
Oh, yeah. Absolutely.
Richard Matthews 32:44
Share with us some of your saving stories from having all your stuff written down on the notepad.
Derrick Todd 32:49
I don’t know if there’s just one but what will happen a lot in the pool industry. And I mean, it’s probably every industry, every service-based industry will have a customer call. Mr. Smith will call up and say they’ll call my office manager and say, Hey, your guy, John. I know he was out here but he didn’t clean the pool. And we’ll go Yeah, he did. Because here’s the photo of your pool before he cleaned it. After he cleaned it. Here’s the list of what he put in. And they can’t argue whenever you show them proof. They say
Richard Matthews 33:44
So you guys kept track of all that kind of stuff?
Derrick Todd 33:47
Richard Matthews 33:48
So as you got larger did you have to build processes for your staff to make sure that they were tracking those kinds of things?
Derrick Todd 33:54
Yeah, at first, it was just everybody got a notepad. I bought notepads for everybody. And I told them exactly what to write down in it. But we got software that ultimately helped us because we just got too big for the whole notepad thing. And we needed it. we needed it fast. Because when people would call in, they would talk to the account manager. And the account manager may or may not have talked to John who was cleaning the pool in the past couple of hours. But Mrs. Smith wanted to know right then and there what John had done. So with the app that we had was a whole program. John would be able to do everything on the property, take pictures, put in notes of what he did. And then my account manager immediately had access to that. So as soon as John rolled off the property, he didn’t even have to call the office, Mrs. Smith called, hey, I don’t think John did XYZ or John did XYZ. And my office manager or account manager said, actually, this is what John did. Here are the photos. Here are the notes. Oh, by the way, Mrs. Smith, we’ve been trying to get you to fix this problem for the past six months. And that’s why you’re having these issues that we can’t fix until you fix this. Would you like us to schedule that now for you?
Richard Matthews 35:40
So having some sort of system in place for tracking the work that’s being done is a really important tool in your business?
Derrick Todd 35:50
Oh, yeah. 100%,
Richard Matthews 35:51
Whether that was notepads as you were a smaller company, or a nice big software system as you got larger, something to do that was a really important aspect of growing your service business.
Derrick Todd 36:00
Richard Matthews 36:01
Richard Matthews 36:02
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Richard Matthews 37:33
So I want to talk about your personal heroes a little bit. Every hero has their mentors, just like Frodo had Gandalf or Luke had Obi Wan Kenobi or Robert Kiyosaki had his Rich Dad or even Spider Man had his Uncle Ben, who were some of your mentors, were they speakers, authors, peers, who were a few years ahead of you, and how important were they to what you have accomplished so far in growing and selling your business and starting your consulting practice?
Derrick Todd 37:59
I’ve had all of those. And all of those have been instrumental in my life to get me to the point that I am now probably the Keystone person that kind of helped unlock this was the guy that I talked about earlier, Mike, he took a young 19 year old or 20 year old kid that was buck wild, just crazy, running in heat, buck going crazy that’s just nuts. And grabbed him and said, look, I’m going to teach you how to be a human being. And he gave me books, like The Magic of Thinking Big, Richest Man in Babylon. He gave me Think and Grow Rich, all these books, and he’s like, you’re gonna read them and I’m like, I don’t want to read them. And he’s like, I don’t care, you’re going to read them. He was the first man that came into my life and said, you need to do this. And it took me not very long to realize, okay, this is what I’ve been looking for that I haven’t been able to figure out that I actually needed so from that, I started seeking out and was able to get more mentors and he was the first. He was probably the Keystone. But I have a couple of mentors both named Matt. One called me today and they kind of picked up the ball from where Mike left off because Mike got me so far, and then he could, he just couldn’t bring me any more. And then I got Matt and Matt picked up the ball and kind of brought me forward and kind of moved me talking about football moving me down the field a bit. And then it was only a certain amount that Matt could take me. And then I had to start looking for other mentors. I hired a business coach, I still have the business coach, her name is Beth. I think everybody should have a coach, a mentor, a hero, someone that they aspire to be. I’ve got a hero in my life now, his name is Daniel. And I can tell you about Daniel, I went to Daniel’s house. He lives in a double wide trailer, okay. Now, let me explain that. So I went into Daniel’s property the other day, cuz he’s like, listen, come by the house, see what I’ve done with it. Now, Daniels is living in a double wide trailer, because he’s building his mansion. I go in, I pull up to the gate. I’ve got the gate code, the gate code opens, and that gate opens me and my family in the van, we drive through this lit tunnel. And we rolled up to his house. Now his house is three stories and his brother who is the superintendent on this property meets me out there and it looks like they are building a hotel. And he started talking to me about it. He took me up there. They’re putting the pool on the second storey that overlooks this lake. Oh, by the way, his property has a runway, and he’s got his own airplane there. And his hangar. But here’s the kicker that I didn’t know. My wife and I are there and his brother is like he’s pointing up, oh, yeah, we’re putting the hella pad up there. And we’re like, hella pad. He’s like, Yeah, we have to have someplace to land the helicopters whenever they come in. I’m like, okay. And he says, but we’re not sure how we’re going to get to it yet. We don’t know if we’re going to make another staircase or whether we’re going to take the elevator that already goes three floors, and just make it go up an extra floor. We haven’t figured that out yet. We’ll just cross that bridge when we get to it. So those are the people that I’m trying to get as much time with as possible because they’re way further down the road than I am.
Richard Matthews 42:57
I want to know what you think are the differences between a business coach, a mentor and a hero.
Derrick Todd 43:02
A hero is someone who you aspire to be. I think a hero is someone that you look up to that is going to be Daniel, he is kind of a hero of mine, Elon Musk. Elon Musk is a hero of mine because he’s done all these great things. He has all these grand ideas that he’s actually doing. Will I ever be an Elon Musk? Probably not. But he’s a hero of mine. A mentor is someone and the guy was talking to you about Daniel who has the Hella pad that he’s not sure how he’s going to get to yet. He is a mentor. I don’t pay him. I don’t pay the mentor. But he’ll be like, Look, Derrick, I see that you’re doing this. Have you ever thought about this? And there’s a reason why he’s got a couple of dozen acres of property, a private plane runway, Hella pad mansion because he’s succeeded in life. And then a coach is someone that you pay to come in and get nitty-gritty with you and actually look at your numbers to maybe take a peek at your P&L to look at your balance sheet, maybe to see the accounts that you have set up and where your money is being funneled to because you should have more than just one account as far as your banking goes, and not just do what’s called checkbook accounting, which far too many people do that
Richard Matthews 45:13
Like how much money do you have in there?
Derrick Todd 45:14
Yeah, so that’s just my take on it. I hope that’s right.
Richard Matthews 45:21
Do you suggest other people who are looking to grow their business have someone that’s in all three of those categories?
Derrick Todd 45:27
Absolutely. Every single one of them, and your business mentor could be your coach, your coach could be your business mentor, it can be any, they can all be the same person. It helps to have them be kind of different people to give you kind of some different points of view. But if it’s just you, you don’t know what you don’t know. So listening to podcasts, like this one has helped me a lot. I read books, listen to audiobooks, mostly. And try to get awesome people around me, people that can stretch me and be like, ah, I need to get off my ass and start doing more because Daniels got a Hella pad.
Richard Matthews 46:30
Like, I have a yacht. I don’t have a hella pad on my yacht. Maybe I need to up my game a little bit. It always cracks me up when you see those mega yachts and like those yachts like they have a yacht in the yacht. It’s like a garage for their yacht inside their yacht. And I’m like, that seems grounded, but also awesome.
Derrick Todd 46:48
I parked next to that guy.
Richard Matthews 46:50
You parked next to that guy?
Derrick Todd 46:51
I parked next to that guy. So I was anchored in one place and this huge yacht came in. I think it was like 150 foot. It had a hella pad. And it’s digging, which is the boat that takes you from your boat to land, like an actual boat. Like what most people have to do to the lake or whatnot.
Richard Matthews 47:18
Like a trailer and take home with them.
Derrick Todd 47:20
Right. Yeah, it was that side, it was like 20 or 22 feet. I’m like, Ah, that’s just a little bit shorter than the house that I live on, the boat that I live on yet.
Richard Matthews 47:33
Like his dinghy is almost as big as my yacht, that’s when you know you’re doing something different.
Derrick Todd 47:39
Richard Matthews 47:41
So I want to talk a little bit about your guiding principles, then. One of the things that make heroes heroic is that they live by a code. For instance, Batman never kills his enemies, he only ever puts them in Arkham Asylum. So as we wrap up this interview, I want to talk about the top one or two principles that you live your life by, maybe something you wish you had known when you started out your own entrepreneurial journey all those years ago.
Derrick Todd 48:02
Hmm. That’s a tough one. So guiding principles, something that I always try to do is to improve myself, to always try to be a better me. And sometimes that leads to stress. But these are principles that you’re trying to do. So always try to be a better person, always have goals. Always have goals that you can’t reach, like, goals that are so big, that you go like, I don’t have a clue. And maybe you are working on that goal and 10 years later, it’s like, I don’t know. And then guiding principles is like, have somebody that can help you out. And this is something that I had to learn recently, is about one of the biggest miracles. You can be a driver, you can be a go getter, you can build a billion dollar company. But if you don’t take the self care, it seems like you and I both have a problem with that because I had to go to the hospital twice, because I was working so hard. So I don’t know who said this, but I’m trying my best and have been to implement this in my life. And it goes like this. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and living your life fully. I hope I didn’t butcher that.
Richard Matthews 50:05
I like that. Because the only thing we ever have is the present because we’re constantly we’re traveling, we’re traveling through time, and we’re not in the past and we’re not in the future and we like to live in one of those two places, remembering things in the past, and letting those decide our current decisions or looking at the future. And sometimes it’s really hard to just be present here and now. Right. And I think personally, for myself, one of the best things that have ever helped me be present was having kids, because they don’t give a shit about your past, and they’re not looking at your future. They just want you to play their laser tag game with them right now. They want you to be present. And it forces you to work that muscle. So anyway, that’s always I think that’s been a big help for me is just being a dad.
Derrick Todd 51:01
Yeah. And a big one for everybody with kids, you’re too. I see and I’m guilty of being on my phone when I should be playing with my kids. I’m guilty.
Richard Matthews 51:18
We all are, though, my hack for that has been figuring out. And I think we’ve all played this game where families have this is having a game on the phone that you can play together.
Derrick Todd 51:31
Yeah, it helps, something the whole family strives for.
Richard Matthews 51:35
Something the whole family strives for. And ours is between your family and mine, it’s this monkey game. It’s a tower defense game that we all play together. And speaking of, I’ve got a map on that game that I just can’t beat sitting over so you can tell me you can figure out how to beat us.
Derrick Todd 51:54
It will be it, will beat it as a team.
Richard Matthews 51:58
I think that’s a wrap on our interview. But I do finish every interview with a simple challenge that I call the hero’s challenge. And I do this to help get access to stories I won’t be able to find on my own because not everyone is out doing the podcast rounds like you and I do. So the question is, do you have someone in your life or in your network that has a cool entrepreneurial story? Who are they? First names are fine and why do you think they should come to share their story with us here on the Hero Show? First person that comes to mind for you.
Derrick Todd 52:24
Mark, Mark, he is another mentor of mine. He’s been a mentor of mine from a distance. He’s built a large swimming pool business on the commercial side of it, whereas I stayed on the backyard side of it. But he’s built a large multi state business and he really helped me figure some of the finances in the latter part of my business. So he would be really good. His name is Mark, what were the other questions you had about him?
Richard Matthews 53:11
No, we’ll reach out later and see if we can get him to come on the show. Sometimes they say yes, sometimes they don’t. But we get really cool stories out of it when we get guests who are not regular podcaster’s unique stories, so to speak. So in comic books, there’s always the crowd of people who are clapping and cheering for the acts of heroism at the end, and our analogous to that, as we close, is where can people find you if they’re interested in getting your help and growing their service-based business or the retail space? Where can they light up the bat signal so to speak and say, hey, Derrick, I’d love to get your help doing this? And then the second part of that question is who are the right types of people to reach out and ask for your help?
Derrick Todd 53:50
All right, well, the best place to reach me if you actually want my help, is to go to AquanutAcademy.com. And my email address is Derrick@AquanutAcademy.com. And you can probably put that in the show notes. So they spelled Derrick right. I didn’t know there were so many ways to spell Derrick, actually, I did but Highlander there can be only one and it’s mine.
Richard Matthews 54:18
Everyone else is wrong.
Derrick Todd 54:20
Everybody else is wrong. And people just want to see me from a distance, I’m on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. What is the new one? TikTok, I’m on all of those. But if they really want to get me then email me and we can chat. Who are the right people to work with me? If they are a smaller company, a chuck in a truck then they’re probably going to want to do the video course that I am working on, probably about halfway three quarters of the way through it that will be up on Aquanut Academy, hopefully, sooner than later. And people that want to work with me one on one, they’re probably going to be people that already have a business that maybe they’re doing a couple $100,000 per year. And they’re just working like a dog, they feel trapped. And they want the business to work for them, instead of them to work for their business. Because they’ve probably already built up a good business. And trust me, I felt trapped. I know what it’s like, I know what it’s like to be like a rat in this cage and you just want to get out. Those are probably the right people that work with me. And it doesn’t just have to be the swimming pool industry. It could be a landscaper lawn care company, businesses, and the service industry, whether it be pools or HVAC, is not that much different when you’re talking about the business side of it. I might not be able to tell you how to install an HVAC unit. But that’s not why you’re hiring me. You already know how to do that. People aren’t hiring me to tell them how to put in a swimming pool pump. They already know how to do that.
Richard Matthews 56:43
Wanting to learn how to build a seven-figure service business and sell it and buy a yacht and travel around. That’s what they want from you.
Derrick Todd 56:50
Richard Matthews 56:51
So thank you so much for coming on my show today, Derrick, it has been great to get to hear your story from this perspective. I know I’ve known your story for a long time but it’s cool to have you on and have you share it with my audience. So thank you for that. Do you have any final words of wisdom for my people before we hit this stop record button and say goodbye?
Derrick Todd 57:08
No, subscribe to the podcast, whatever that means, hit whatever button that is and subscribe to the podcast. Listen to Richard. He’s got some really, really good shows on So yeah, that’s it.
Richard Matthews 57:22
Yeah, thank you so much. Have a great day.
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