Joshua Latimer felt his job as a banker for JP Morgan Chase to start a cleaning business in Michigan which he eventually grew and sold to a California based cleaning conglomerate in 2015. Now he’s living in Costa Rica with his 4 kids and wife where he helps small business owners from all over the world understand the power of business systems and automation and the freedom that they can bring. Joshua is the founder of www.automategrowsell.com, an online training platform for small local service businesses as well as www.sendjim.com, a follow up automation tool for busy professionals.
- What is your Zodiac sign?
- Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey
- What prompted you to move to Costa Rica?
- Why is it important in a business, especially if you’re going to deliver a quality customer experience one that’s exceptional, why is it important to have systems and how does those systems help to maximize on your customer experience?
- Can you explain to us about what you do in automategrowsell.com, in terms of your online training platform?
- On a global level, how do you feel about customer service/ customer experience?
- How do you stay motivated every day?
- What are some important considerations for an entrepreneur or an online business owner to be successful?
- What is the one online resource, website, tool or app that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?
- What are some of the books that have had the biggest impact on you?
- If you were sitting across the table from another business owner and they said to you that they feel they have great products and services but they lack the constantly motivated human capital, what’s the one piece of advice would you give them to have a successful business?
- What is one thing in your life right now that you are really excited about – something that you are working on to develop yourself or people?
- Where can our listeners find your information online?
- What is one quote or saying that you live by or that inspires you in times of adversity?
- Joshua Latimer stated that he thinks he is a Scorpio but he hasn’t put in a lot of time on that totally being true. He stated that he was born November 18th. Joshua shared he is not sure the traits of a Scorpio, however, a lot of pain and suffering has helped to mold him.
- Joshua Latimer stated that he has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, he was the first one in his family to be an entrepreneur so when he started his first business he was 18 years old and his parents went on vacation and when they came home, he had used their Credit Card to buy 14 candy machines and their whole garage was full of candy machines. He had no discipline, he had no real focus or wisdom or knowledge in business, he just had the desire for it but he got a lot if push back from friends and family saying, “What are you doing?” “Go get a job” “This is crazy, just be a normal person” and he kind of cave to that pressure for many years like a lot of people have or is still doing, going to work and doing the thing that you’re not passionate about because it’s what you’re suppose to do. He did that for awhile but then his wife got pregnant with their first child, he had his “Come to Jesus” moment where he said, “Alright Josh, deep down you know you’re a square peg in a round hole and you know you want to start a business.” He felt like it was a now or never at that time, so he decided to start a cleaning business and his mother was so mad at him that she didn’t talk to him for a week, she was so freaked out that he was going to start a business rather than having a “safe and secure job.”
Yanique asked if was the same business that he sold to a California cleaning conglomerate in 2015. Joshua stated that yes, it was and that it’s a great business, it’s a repeat service, there’s a high margin and it’s a niche service, it’s a good business but it’s tricky to scale. One of the reasons it is so hard is because you’re inside peoples’ homes to have the right systems and protocols, when you have dozens of employees and you’re doing tens and thousands of dollars in revenue a week or a day sometimes, it’s very tricky to keep that thing tight enough to where it’s operating at a high level going in and out of peoples’ homes, it’s an intimate thing and that where the tricky part is to scale a cleaning business.
- Joshua shared that he was born and raised in Michigan, never really been anywhere and then decided to move with his wife and kids to Central America. It was a couple year process and he wanted his kids to know that the world is a big place; he wanted his kids to be bilingual and to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them. He wanted them to take intelligent risks and start businesses and do things and live a big life because that’s who he is and he wants to pass that on to them because the world is a big place. People all over the planet are getting up and doing stuff all day and starting companies and getting married and as an American, it is really easy to not even think of that, to not even realize that. Joshua shared we are only a small percentage of the worlds’ population, so he can only help his family to open their eyes and expand their horizons in terms of culture.
Joshua stated that he was so self-centered in a business perspective and in how smart he thought he was perspective, it’s almost embarrassing and he looked around with his colleagues and other Americans, they don’t do it on purpose but they slowly become like that over time, they live in a bubble a little bit and so going down to Costa Rica and engage with people who makes US $2.00 an hour and interact with people who are terrified to start a tiny business and to understand the cultural differences and to see what he can offer there and learn from them as well it has been an amazing thing and because his new business is web based, he has the ability to do that which is amazing and as long has he has Internet, he can work from wherever.
- Joshua shared that systems are only important if you actually like your business and you don’t want to be a slave to it. If you want to make real money without you doing everything yourself, we have to take a hard look at that system and automation, it sounds fancy but it’s very simple and from the stand point of Customer Service, a lot of small businesses shoot from the hip and the founder or the owner or the person who is holding it all together, they’re the glue, they are smart. Persons who have a small business, they are very sharp, they are very talented and they are holding it together, the problem is you are exhausted, as your business scales, it gets harder and harder to hold it all together and things start dropping, you start dropping the ball, your Customer Experience goes down but you don’t even realize it’s down because you can’t possibly pay attention to 32 different areas in your business at the same time at a high level. So what a system is, it’s you taking a step back and being intentional in predefining the way that you do something in your business. For example, if someone’s really mad at you and they think your company stinks, there should be a process for that, they call, email or Facebook you, these days, probably Facebook so the whole world will see how much they hate you and once that happens, “What’s triggered inside of your business?” Most people today will just randomly see the message and then they’ll say, “Oh no!” and then they’ll do some stuff or they’ll email them back but it’s not standardized, it’s not systemized, it’s not thought through in advance, that’s what a system is. It’s going through all the little pieces in your business and being intentional about how you’re going to do this at a high level and then writing it down and then deploying it to your team and being consistent with it over time. Once you do that in all the parts of your business, the sky is the limit.
Joshua Latimer stated that his philosophy is that you run towards problem. One of his company core values that have already been established before they built the system is to have a way to know that Facebook and the customer service support email account and their customer support telephone number were checked really quickly and on going. Step 1 of your system might include using some software or assigning a low level administrative task person to constantly check these messages on a 15 minutes reoccurring basis as part of her workflow maybe she does other work and she is always refreshing that Facebook feed for example because you want to be present and you want to be very responsive in Customer Service. Step 2 would be, if something happens where someone is not happy that would trigger all of this other stuff, so you would give them a predefined script, not robotic, very human, very fun. Taking responsibility by creating a script for them to send back to the Facebook person and it would be in the 15-minute window because the system would be checking it all the time and would probably have the employees take responsibility, tell the customer, “I have the authority to make this right for you, we’re going to be on this, here’s my personal cell phone number, here’s my email address, we’re going to be reaching out to you, we are all over this. Thank you so much for telling us this happened, this is a huge help to us.” Step 3 would be for us to go find this person in real life so whether we review the orders from the time the message was sent, we try to find them and their phone number, whatever it is we will run and sprint towards that problem as a team. Step 4 might be to document the whole situation in our CRM or our support ticket software, whatever we are using so that we have a record of the complaint that was made and anybody that was involved in it. Step 5 might be, during your weekly team meetings, you review the previous week incidents and see if they were resolved satisfactorily or if we can tighten up or if the script needs to be changed or if we are doing our very best. That would be a simple word document that describes everything but the hard part of the system is getting your team to do it that way every single time. The way that you accomplish that is by being relentless in your pursuit of sticking to the system in your own life as a leader so when you constantly going back there an reiterating and reaffirming, it will work but people give up too quick sometimes with it.
Joshua stated that the meat of your leadership ability comes in the way you actually behave and execute in your own role. Everybody is watching you, your family and your kids so you have to be high level because everyone below you will do exactly what you do except a little bit less. If the bar is not high enough in step 1 by the time you are 12 layers deep and have all these staff members, the customers dealing with all the 12 layer employees at the bottom, you’re going to get a very low level experience because the bar wasn’t raise high enough by the leadership in the beginning.
- Joshua shared that what he does is in his niche of window cleaning and pressure cleaning is that over time people knew who he was in his industry. He would get a lot of requests to do business consulting or fly in somewhere and help them to systemize and automate and really dig in and rip the guts out and look how can we fix this business, where is it broken, how can we scale, how can we grow? He got a lot of requests to do that; he doesn’t have time to do that. His primary business his is software company, so what he did is create Automate, Grow, Sell, it’s for local service companies and it helps you go through basically 6 months of how do I go front to back, top to bottom, through the entire architecture of your company, how do I systemize it, it’s a private community that gets a couple coaching calls with him and there’s over 50 videos shot in Costa Rica with home work and documents and samples. It’s an educational product for service companies to help them stop being a slave to their small business.
Joshua Latimer stated that he tends to specialize with service companies but the customer life cycle and the way to engage enough to the sale and the way to get maximum profitability specifically to home service businesses like lawn care, landscaping, carpet cleaning, he has some other people in the boot camp but that’s kind of the core of who it is tailored to speak to if you decide to take it.
- Joshua stated that people in Central America are a lot less stressed out than people in North America and that includes the employees of companies. He almost started a pest control company in Costa Rica a few months ago and he still might invest in something like that. The deal with the way Central America customer service works, everyone is really nice while they provide you with horrible customer service. In general, it’s a strong trend; the people are not entrepreneurial so they don’t look at things the same way. He didn’t realize how entrepreneurial North Americans were until he lived in Central America and so he thinks we have a lot of work to do in North America in terms of getting our service back to the way it was decades ago and really being high level with our enthusiasm and the way we take care of our customers but he feels that we are light years ahead of the businesses down there, they just don’t quite understand power in those type of things, they’re all commodity based businesses, they have a thing or a service, you give them money, they give you the thing or the service and that’s it. There’s very little attention paid to the way that I feel doing business with the company and what happens after I do business with the company. There’s very little attention paid to the perceived value, the branding, the marketing, and the uniform with the company. They just don’t quite get that and for somebody that does, it’s a huge advantage but he doesn’t see very often.
- Joshua stated that it’s a cultural thing and that Costa Rica is an amazing place and he loves Costa Ricans, he learned a lot from them because the world is not about making more money but from a business perspective, there’s a lot of work to be done there and there’s a reason there’s no middle class, there’s rich Costa Ricans, there’s very poor Costa Ricans, the government takes care of everybody, it’s a socialized country, the Government pays for everything, does everything and so there’s not like people are destitute on the streets but they also have a very limited ceiling on what they can accomplish in their life. For example, if a young poor Costa Rican wants to start a business, the paperwork, the regulation, the process is a nightmare with all the government bureaucracy but on top of that, when they try to start the business, all of their friends and family are going to say, “No, no what are you doing? You’re going to loose your savings, don’t do that, that’s too risky.” Even if it’s the most simple business ever. So, there’s a lot of pulling you back down going on so the mentality there is that they love each other, they’re warm people but they live in fear in terms of entrepreneurism and they don’t know how to make money as a people, they just don’t get it. The very few people that do, exploit it, the government exploits it, there’s a huge corruption in all of Central America including Costa Rica and so the people building the roads are richer than you can ever imagine while everyone else goes to the grocery store and buy 2 eggs at a time because they can’t buy a whole dozen.
- Joshua Latimer shared how he stays motivated everyday; he stated that he’s motivated because he’s blessed, because he’s thankful, because he’s happy that he wakes up everyday. He stated that he wakes up and it’s a big deal, he wakes up and he has more to accomplish, more people he can serve. He thinks that it is easier to be motivated if your base line personality is rooted in gratitude because there are so many people that he can serve including his staff, there are so many ideas that he wants to execute on and there are so many things he wants to build and he wants his children and family to participate. Motivation to him isn’t something you focus on, motivation is a by-product of correct thinking and correct thinking starts with getting your eyes off yourself every second and looking at everything you’re blessed with and all the people around you that you can serve.
He stated that in his office at the door, there is a white board in his office that says, “Today I’m thankful for”and there is a line and he has a dry erase marker and he writes something new on it everyday. It’s a silly, tiny thing but we have to remind ourselves how blessed, fortunate and lucky we are. It’s very easy to feel sorry for yourself even if you’re doing successful things, even if you’re in America, poor people in America are rich if you compare it to the world but it’s easy to sit around and say, “poor me, I only have this but everybody else have that” or “my job, I hate but it’s impossible because everybody is keeping me down” which is not true, you’re in a perspective the way you view the world, it’s true to you. If you have the correct thinking, you’re going to get more and more motivated over time.
- Joshua Latimer shared some considerations for an entrepreneur. He stated that now he has a software company, so he did the local hometown business, started with nothing, eventually grew that to being very successful, almost doing US $200,000 a month in window cleaning and then he started this app and he’s going through that process right now, he has employees all over the world, they have raised money from investors. Some considerations, number 1. You have to count the cost, people love to underestimate what they are capable of achieving in a lifetime but they over estimate what they can achieve in a year. Almost everybody does this and with a small business, for it to work, you cannot quit, you have to stay in the game, it takes time, it does not happen by osmosis instantaneously 24 hours later, so people need to be very real with themselves on the pain that will be involved, the sacrifice that will be involved and the sacrifice required for them to win. The second thing is to get a mentor; you need to be around sharp people, like-minded people, people that are 3 levels above you. If you’re the smartest person out of all of your friends, you need to get some new friends, if you’re the smartest person in the room; you need to get a new room. You have to stay sharp, you have to surround yourself with people that add value to your life and not people that suck the life out of you. If you have negative family and friends and you’re going to start a business, you better seriously considering cutting that off like the Cancer that it is if you’re going to be serious about your business.
- Joshua stated that the one online tool he uses everyday other than is own app is Trello. They use Trello every day and they have a lot of online tools that they use. Trello is kool and it’s free, it helps you organize tasks, to do’s and projects using little cards and boards and it’s a great app.
- Joshua stated that the number 1 book that have had the biggest impact is the Bible in terms of business and life and relationship and systems, how to live your life, how do you want to get closer to God, how you want to be a better dad, you want to have a better business. There is another book that he read recently called The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller, he’s the founder of Keller Williams Realty. The book is very simple, it helps you to try and understand the importance of focusing on one high level important thing at a time while you’re moving through your business and trying to achieve success and a lot of us do seven things at the same time and we never really get anywhere but we go home exhausted everyday. The key is to prioritize things and to bite off one singular thing at a time until it’s complete, go to the next one, until that’s complete, you go to the next one, it’s really important, that’s what all the highest achievers in the world do and the book helps to explain that.
Yanique stated that she read in a book when she was in college that said, “It’s not humanly possible for you to do 2 things at the same time at 100%.” She could see the concept that Gary was trying to get across in terms of really being intentional in completing an activity to the best of your ability and by doing so just focusing on that activity for that period of time.
Joshua Latimer stated that the first page of the book says, “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” Joshua shared this a Russian Proverb. The truth is that building a successful company is boring and it’s not always sexy and you’re not always on fire with motivation, it’s about setting and accomplishing goals period. One thing, then two things, then three things, then four things, then you get a set back and then you’ve got to be relentless and resilient and not quit and keep going and then you set and accomplish another goal, that’s the way that you do it if you want to really crush it but most of us are too concern with checking Facebook 300 times a day or checking our email 95 times a day. He stated that he heard a statistic that the average person checks their email 95 to 130 times a day. Our ability to focus is really bad, especially with technology now. He stated that it is something he is working on to get tighter into because it’s not about working hard, it’s about being productive and if you want to move quickly to success, you have to be highly productive and that means doing all the boring stuff no one wants to talk about, doing the right things when no one is looking, shutting down the distractions and getting crap done until it’s done one thing at a time.
- Joshua Latimer stated that what he would say is that it is almost a guarantee that they are doing a very poor job as a leader laying out the vision. They have the vision but the people around them aren’t motivated, you having the vision is useless to you. The Bible says, “Without a vision, my people perish.” Your company is going to perish if you don’t have a vision in the same way. If your staff is disinterested, demotivated, not focused, not motivationally engaged, it’s always 100% fault of the leadership. You can have a bad apple once in awhile but if there is a trend, you have to take responsibility and fix the trend so you need to cast your vision more effectively, you need to help your staff understand what’s in it for them, “This is who we are, this is where we are going, this is why we are going there and this is what’s in it for you when we get there” continuously reiterating the same vision is what’s required, you don’t have one meeting a year to tell everybody to get fired up and then wonder why they are disinteresting 90 days later. You have to be driving the train, standing at the front of the crowd, pulling your troops with you, when you have real relationships with them, you understand who they are as humans and you’re coaching them and doing all that stuff, they will go to war for you but these types of issues really always fall on the shoulders of the leader, they just don’t like to admit that, they want the ominous ether of black nothingness to take the blame, they want to say, “Well, there are just no good help out there, there’s no good employees” because that’s an easy way out.
- Joshua stated that the one thing that he is working on right now is sendjim.com, which is an app that lets you send postcards, emails, gifts and letters from your cellphone. He built this app with his business partner Chris for his own company before he sold it and they are going to use it internally. What it does is automate your follow-up process with your customers, when you are done doing business with a customer, you can push a button on the phone and it will automatically physically mail them a Thank You card and an appointment reminder card 6 months later and ask for referrals, letter or email 3 months later and it does all of that stuff without you touching it. Joshua is excited about it and he said it is growing really quickly. The app is available on App Store and Google Play Store. Great Relationship Marketing Tool. Joshua says your current customers are your biggest asset.
- Joshua Latimer shared listeners can find him at –