Four years ago this month I told a life changing story that at the time had been incubating in my soul for many years prior. It was the sharing of a GÜD Chicken Coop Story. Unexpectedly my paths crossed with a very successful businessman who told me to keep my head down and keep doing what I was doing, but be sure to keep my eyes and ears open to what opportunities lie ahead.
He said: One day you're going to be driving down the road and pass a sign that says "Chicken Coop For Sale" - and you're going to buy it.
Up until this moment, you would have never thought about owning a chicken coop, but something inside is going to tell you that this opportunity is a culmination of all your knowledge and talents roped into one. You will know inside, almost without thinking, this is for you.
That was the GÜD Handyman Business.
And since then, my life has never been the same. In February of 2019 I announced to the world with excitement that I had started this business, and on that day I shared www.GudHand.com. Months prior to that announcement, Christmas time 2018, I could be found locked away in my office working on all things marketing and website...
Shit it was a grind!
But on January 1, 2019, I had my first paying job! All that preparation the month prior set a foundation that I was able to effectively leverage into the coming years. The handyman business was started to help keep me distracted from the emotionally exhausting business of real estate, while serving my community with a trade/talent I happened to be naturally very good at. As time evolved, I wanted nothing more than to go pound out 4 ceiling fans and 2 TV installations after a stressful real estate call or closing! Through those efforts it's evolved into what feels like "going to the gym" for others when I'm stressed out. Looking back on these four years I couldn't have picked a more organic time to drive down the road and see that Chicken Coop for sale. 2019 was a turning point in my life. It secured a footing on confidence of my identity in a way I was struggling with. Not that I didn't know myself, because I did, but it's one of those things that you have to go through, as difficult as it might be, you'll find yourself at the bottom when you're tested. The following three years were nothing but a test. Once the business had a bit of momentum, 2020 came around and kicked the world in their face with Covid. I already had a year's worth of credible work and once everyone started working from home they saw all kinds of things that needed to be done. The fire was lit. Compound that horrible year of 2020 not only with COVID, but also include four significant deaths in our family (unrelated to COVID) that all happened three months apart from each other, RIP Nanna Dale, RIP Nanny, RIP Sean Coffee, RIP Bonus Dad John.
Our world was turned upside down.
By now the entire planet was in a different spot. In addition to all of our personal difficulties, the real estate market was a freight train coming. Looking back on that time, it was the opportunities found in my GÜD life that gave me an outlet. 2020 through early 2022 is a blur unlike anything I have survived. Somewhere in the mix of it all I figured out how to leverage both specialties of handyman and real estate like pizza and beer. What started out as cautious incite by keeping them quiet between each other, now, shit?! utilizing them together made everyone very comfortable having both hats. My days at the time were 150% all handyman Tuesday-Friday, and 150% real estate Friday-Monday. The phone might as well have been the hub of a call center. It was an overwhelming time! Considering the vulnerability our family was surviving, it was a hell of a demand on me to keep up. Leave it to my weird over achieving ass to find therapy in building more shit. I found relaxation in being able to work on my house with countless highly involved projects - of which also took place on Saturdays and Sundays... haha..
Somehow, my publicly educated mind created an extra 8 hours in a 24 hour work day. lol!
There was a problem looming in the background however. The tires were starting to fall off of the life I had built. For the first time in my life I could feel what burnout was. Gosh damn was it an incredibly deep level! Just before Summer of 2022, I took some time off to prepare for another certification. I stopped answering the phone so I could breathe and study. I should have stopped and not done anything so I could recover. However, all I did was put more pressure on me. By the time summer was over, I was quietly in worse shape than I was when I paused. People still needed servicing, food still needed to be bought, I had to go back to it even though I was completely smoked! In the haze of the smoke I was also trying to plan for the future. The momentum I had created for the business was so significant, that it was obvious I was at the point of needing to scale. In the eyes of business, this is a great thing. However, this is not what I wanted. Come the middle of the Fall 2022, I was in deep burnout. I couldn't have a conversation with anyone about anything important without wanting to emotionally break down. The tires were all but gone. My handyman business was now a truck with rims only, wheels spinning, shit for traction, but we were going downhill and all I could do was steer. For the first time in my life, wearing tools did not bring me joy. I still did a quality job, but my personal tank was on fumes. It came to mind that I should just put the truck in park while driving, fuck it! I thought! It felt like the boat had holes in it and I no longer had the ability or desire to fix the holes. Meanwhile the opportunities continued to come, all only sinking the boat further.
I was drowning
This was no way to treat something that I loved so much. Nor was this a way to treat customers who I also loved so much. So... I mustered what little bit of energy I had and slid the truck into the guardrail and progressively slowed. In the midst of all the momentum I created, I had find the courage to call existing customers, customers who've already been waiting for weeks, some months, to say, I'm sorry, I cannot serve you right now. Reluctantly, I need to cancel our appointment. In addition, I do not know when I will be back. I kindly suggest you find someone else.
Damn dude, I was toast!
It was like I had a compound fracture in my bicep arm, meanwhile the same shoulder was dislocated. I was in a ton of pain! But before the healing could start I needed to align the bone and reset the joint... By myself. Like a thief in the night, I took the truck wrap off and went into ghost mode. 100% incognito civilian status. Man did that hurt.
Fuck I was a mess inside.
In life there is no reset button. There is no valve to turn off. Father Time does not care; the seconds keep coming. Like water, given enough pressure and seconds, time too can wear out anything. My humble handyman business was built on a solid foundation before it ever started. I believe in my heart it was that level of intentionality that allowed it to blossom and survive an era of time we've not seen before. Compound my willingness to find an extra 8 hours in a work day, time wears on me quickly. My GÜD idea was no exception. What makes me feel special in the service I provide to my community is my level of care. I care a lot about what I do and how I do it. They're easy words to say, but if your North Star is authentic, they are demanding words that require full embodiment if they are to stand for anything. I am happy that leaning on that philosophy gave me the resolve to park the truck, to dock the boat and not destroy something that I cared for so deeply. So rather than obliterate all that had been made, rather than continue to duct tape the holes and sails, I did a soft, conscious demolition of the entire business, bringing it back down to the foundation. This was a physical and mental detox of all things I had created.
With a level of self-inflicted detoxification, I recalibrated time.
Turns out my foundation didn't suffer at all. What appeared as things falling apart was not that... Exhaustion had simply knocked me down. The world wasn't falling apart, it was my perspective. As soon as I collected myself and sat up I could see what was happening.
In reality, it was opportunities falling down from the sky - not away from me.
For over a year I had been fighting a three dimensional Tetris cube controlled by the rules of a Chess game, and I was losing. Almost instantly, as if the power cord had been ripped from the wall, it clicked.
Blinded by the darkness I could see through the confusion. I could feel where the pieces needed to go. Like music playing in my head that only I could hear, I needed to orchestrate pieces together.
My brain was on fire!
A lot can change in four years! There was no way I could have ever imagined what laid ahead after buying that Chicken Coop! Changes and evolving is what makes business so fun! - especially when it's backed with clarity! Beyond the significant emotional growth and on a lighter side, I have changed my uniform countless times trying to find the right shirt quality, the right screening and perfect fit! I've gone through two trucks, two vehicle wraps and about 10 pairs of work boots! I think I'm on my third set of 6 work pants! With all the changes, I've never once touched or changed my website or business card. When I launched my Chicken Coop idea that early February of 2019 I was fortunate to have 9 customers. With that I had completed 9 different jobs, having flagged a total 41 hours. (I know... I'm a data junky!) Fast forward to February of 2023, I served my 345th customer, Thursday :) :) and over this time I have completed 785 different projects, and I've flagged 2,963 hours. (nerd on nerd level! lol) These hours do not include my therapy building projects at home hahah! :) With so many opportunities over these four years, it was undoubtedly the right time to do a serious overhaul! Similar to my needing to wear tools for therapy, telling stories, making artwork, creating a visual image conveyed through emotional capital...
THAT! Is therapy! And lord did my spirit need it!
As if the universe carved out the time for me, just as it was when I started the business, there was no better time than doing web design, branding during the month of December! The fire inside burned so intensely that I created another 8 hours in a 24 hour day! With that extra time I figured it'd also be a great opportunity to rebrand GratefulMan.com, rebrand my truck, AND rebrand-revamp The GÜD Handyman simultaneously! It should come as no crazy surprise that there's also a fourth branded development in there too... but one thing at a time Josh. LOL! It wasn't until I started digging deep into the details of the businesses that I discovered that during this four year ride of The GÜD Handyman, we also sold a little more than $18,000,000 in real estate?!
I have been blessed with 785 opportunities throughout these four years. This moment has taken me months of methodical preparation to rope them together and through the execution of hundreds of hours of creative effort I have cleared my head, healed my heart, and rebuilt.
In celebration of The GÜD Handyman's fourth year in service, I'm super excited to welcome you to the new GudHand.com!
I cannot imagine the joy and excitement I would have if I really had a storefront!
But this digital storefront will have to do :)
So please! Take a tour with me! :)
Check out the before and after! Home Page BEFORE:
Home Page AFTER:
Business Cards BEFORE: Front and Back
Business Cards AFTER: Front and Back
Once I became more confident in wearing my real estate hat with handyman, I created an 8.5" x 11" folded handout that nicely held my multiple business cards, blog info, and nonprofit interests all together. Each time I met a new customer they would always receive this handout. *There's something about creating an experience when you meet someone for the first time. This idea made a big impact beyond handing a potential customer just a business card. This idea was well received :) Folded Handout BEFORE:
Folded Handout AFTER:
There has been a high level of creative momentum backed by recalling the almost 800 jobs. This brought a clearer vision of the business, one of which is how we serve beyond handyman and real estate, it's about also giving back.
Giving Back and Google Reviews
Google changed their features regarding reviews, so I can no longer link to a page, instead now, it takes you to the google page itself. There's something about your reviews being authentic. Although a bit of a dance, I'm happy with the authenticity as that's super important. Although silly in the update, I was even able to update the "favicon" :) This kind of website feature is a nice attention to detail.
Other notable changes :) My services expanded greatly!
Services BEFORE: Just three!
Services AFTER: Now sixteen!
A HUGE THANKS to my customers for making these services even possible! :) Over the course of four years, technology on the website functionality changes a lot too. Here a rollover action BEFORE:
Portfolio BEFORE: Six total
Portfolio AFTER: Today TWENTY-ONE! :) :)
Gallery Layout BEORE: Centralized
Gallery Layout AFTER:
One of my favorite website additions was in the Contact info!
There's something about asking a "bonus question" that brings out the awesomeness in people inquiring! *Again! you've got to make the first contact an "experience"
I need help selling my home
I want to follow GratefulMan.com blog posts
I love the smell of sawdust and wood!
I just wanted you to know I'm feeling awesome!
I'm more of a dog person
Cold weather bothers me
Sides of ranch with my pizza please
Barkeep, may I have another?
Better yet, make it a double!
Taco Bell over McDonalds
Any team but the Raiders!... or Cowboys!
It's like a surprise PS note in the message. Sure makes it fun on my end to know who my people are before they reach out. :) Another unique detail that was important to me was bringing in the GratefulMan blog posts. The years of opportunities has given me so much to share. There are many business that purchase blog systems from outside providers. They're oftentimes general and rob what feels like a great opportunity to leverage trust. So throughout the site I have sprinkled in blog links that are relevant to a past project completed. :)
Over this four year journey, technology has really gotten better! The site is now also very "mobile friendly". When doing the web development it's literally building two websites in one that both function completely different from each other.
If you can pull this off correctly, this feature will also create the effective utilization of QR codes. To capitalize on the technological functionality of print, when I rebranded the business cards, truck and fold handouts I leveraged this a lot. :)
That pretty much wraps up the tour of hot button changes. :) But please do me a favor, please go to my site and walk around and let me know what you think :)
There is A TON! of neat stuff in there. Although there are not exactly this many pictures on the site, however you can see the depth of content needed to pull this rebuild off: 1,274 Files, 64 Folders
Before I close, I need to thank my customers again for trusting me with such a gifted opportunity to serve them. The data shows that I have 345 customers, however, I have completed almost 800 projects. That means that the large part of my business is from past clients. I do not take that for granted. :) And lastly, none of this would be even possible without the support of my sweet bride, Chas. She gives me so much freedom to run as hard as I can while being there to support me as my personal pit crew when I'm exhausted to the bone. Thank you love. :) I appreciate you taking the time to hear my untold story of struggle and go with me on my digital tour. Your support means a lot. Have a grateful weekend!