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Roofing Road Trip S1: E4 with Ken Kelly - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

Blog on Podcast with Ken Kelly
October 31, 2019 at 6:00 a.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an interview with Ken Kelly. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast here

Karen Edwards: Hey everybody, this is Karen Edwards, I'm the editor here at Roofers Coffee Shop and I am at the AEC BuildTech conference in Chicago with Ken Kelly, president of Kelly Roofing and one of the RCS influencers. How you doing Ken?

Ken Kelly: I'm doing well, Karen. Great event.

Karen Edwards: Yeah, yeah. So, you participated in a panel at the event, along with one of our industry influencers, Trent [Cotney 00:00:32], he was speaking as well from Cotney Construction Law, and I heard that you actually are a client of Trent's as well. Is that correct?

Ken Kelly: That's correct. Yes. We are part of his monthly program where you pay a flat fee and you get certain legal services covered in that fee, and what's great about Trent is he focuses solely on the construction industry, namely roofing. He's a real big advocate for us in the industry and it's great to have a partner who understands not only the law side of things, but also what we as roofing contractors deal with on a regular basis because his expertise really helps us in cases. We're not paying hourly fees for someone to learn our industry, he already knows it. So, what you pay for is really only the services that you absolutely need. So he's a great value to our industry for sure.

Karen Edwards: And that model, you said a subscription service, that's not something that you typically think of when you think of attorneys. You just typically think of, oh I've got to call my attorney and how much is this going to cost me? How has this helped you in planning out your budgeting for legal fees?

Ken Kelly: Yeah. You're absolutely right, it's certainly not anything we would normally associate with attorneys. The other thing that you ... Before I answer that question, the other thing you wouldn't associate with attorneys is somebody who gives selflessly to the industry on Boards and associations, to help us better ourselves as a total industry and represent us to customers and insurance companies and manufacturers and clients and whatnot. He really does a great job and I want to personally recognize him for that, because he just gives so much time, his own expense and everything, to be almost everywhere. Whether it's [NRCA 00:02:12] or [FRSA 00:02:13] or Western States, wherever he happens to be.

Karen Edwards: Ken you are so right when you talk about how Trent Cotney has given back to the industry and being involved in all the associations, you and I are both involved in the roofing technology think tank and from day one, Trent was onboard donating his time to get that set up and to help us put bylaws in place and structure. He continues to work with us and still has never charged us for that. Really appreciate those kind of folks working to make the industry just that much better.

Ken Kelly:Agree.

Karen Edwards: So talk to me a little bit about this budget, the monthly plan and how that helps you budget for legal expenses.

Ken Kelly: Sure, yeah, absolutely. And that's a good point because that's exactly what it is. It allows us to predict exactly what our cost is going to be for the attorney side of things. I'll just give you a little insight into myself; prior to my relationship with Trent, which started maybe about a decade ago, I was deathly scared of attorneys. I thought that all they were going to do were take your money and they were going to draw out cases, they maybe would represent you in a way you would hope, but they were certainly also trying to make as much money as possible. And it wasn't until my relationship with Trent before I finally got to realize that there's another side. And maybe it's just him, but there's definitely another side to attorneys and they are not only a valuable resource for your organization, they're absolutely critical. In order for you to grow and grow sustainably, and run a well-organized system, you really need to have solid, legal representation. So, when Trent came to me with this concept, it was kind of funny because internally I was thinking about this subscription model and how well it works on the software side of things, and thought, "My gosh how cool would it be if we had our attorney representing us in such a way." And it just coincidentally worked out that while I'm thinking about this, Trent is setting up a meeting with me to discuss a program that he had rolled out and it just fell right in line. So when you think about, from a contractor's standpoint, the areas that we would typically need representation, the first thing that comes to mind is contract review. And we are constantly working with, whether it's specifiers like architects, engineers, contractors, general contractors that want us to engage in their contract and that is a ton of liability that you're potentially opening yourself up to. And your organization up to. And it's really great to have a resource that you trust that can look that over, but being business owners, we also have to do this little wait and balance to say, "Gosh is the couple of hours I'm going to pay at three or 400 bucks an hour, is it worth reviewing this small contract for only, say a $5000 job that I'm doing for this general contractor?" Well having this subscription plan with Cotney Construction Law, I don't have that thought process anymore. I know it's the right thing to do, it doesn't cost me any extra, I'm going to throw over that contract and they're going to review it and they're going to protect us in the best way possible. That may be, "Don't sign it," or that may be, "Hey just see if you can strike this one provision and you should be good to go." They looked at all of our internal terms and conditions, the things that we offer our clients to sign. If we have negotiated work, and they put us in a favorable position. But it's not favorable to where it's one-sided, it's really favorable to where it's fair. It would put us in the right venue, it would provide for attorney's fees, it would allow us to be in a venue that's closer to us so that it's less expensive if we ever have to fight and ultimately what that does is it keeps us safe. So, my father had this expression, I think it's a great expression, it was, "I'd rather have a good contract ... I'd rather have a bad contract with a good person than a good contract with a bad person." And essentially what he was saying is, there are million dollar deals that are still being made over the hood of a Ford pickup truck, and those handshake deals are the ones we all would love to enter into and wish that world was that way. We have all this optimism when we first start to work for a client, potential client, but in the real world there are people out there who will take advantage of us. And having a resource behind you, that you don't have to worry about an extra expense, is very, very comforting. My little slogan is something that I've borrowed that's very well known, it's good fences make great neighbors. Even the most handshake deals, to follow it up with an agreement that's written and has your terms and conditions and it just keeps everyone honest from the very beginning, and provides that backhand shall you ever need it. So that's one thing that the subscription service provides. The other thing [crosstalk 00:07:40] ... sorry, go ahead.

Karen Edwards: Well that's fantastic. I'll let you finish your other point, I'd love to hear it. Please.

Ken Kelly: Sure. So another thing is collections. So, you have customers that, for whatever reason may hold back money because you did something during construction and they just don't think it's right. It could be a delay, it could be the roof doesn't look like it used to, what is that extra piece on the wall? And you try to explain to them that it's flashing that wasn't there before, and that's why the roof leaked and you need this, and they're like it's ugly and it doesn't match my neighbor. Those type of things you get drawn into, all of a sudden you're over 90 days and your supplier is yelling at you for money to pay the job account off and you want to get this thing collected and you're wondering where should I go with this? Well, we have found that having this subscription plan allows us to simply send those clients that we think are headed in that direction off to the legal team with a little synopsis, copy of the contract and maybe some photos, a brief description of what the customer's issue or complaint is. And just having them send an attorney demand letter, it's not necessarily formal, it's just a letter, but it says, "Hey listen, we represent X-Y-Z company. We've been asked to step in on their behalf. We understand that these are the particulars of the situation, but please understand that legally, punch-out work or a timing delay had no provision in the contract," or something along those lines, "is not a reason to withhold payment. And we are here now demanding payment to be made within the next, let's say, 10 or 14 days." Whatever it happens to be. That is really great to put a barrier in front of you and the client and say, "Listen I hear you. I understand that you think that's a valid concern. According to statues, state statutes, that's not. And it's not a reason to withhold payment, you will now accrue attorney's fees, interest, legal and collection fees, if this continues. Let's work something out. That's really great too, if you've lost communication. It's kind of a way to bring them back to the bargaining table because they might be ignoring your calls, but they're certainly not going to ignore an attorney's calls. So, anyways, having that resource, to send as many times as you need to, is fantastic. Along the collection lines as well, notice to owners, lien files, all of those things that help keep us honest. We need somebody to help ensure that we're doing it the right way, that we're doing it on a right owner, in the right venue like a municipality. That it's done timely. To preserve our rights down the road, shall we ever need them. It's a no brainer. I don't want to have to think about this. I want to just know that that resource is there and available for us. So, there's a couple of examples. There's absolutely a lot more that's available on the subscription plan, but those are the things that, when I first thought of this and was first introduced to it, I said, "You know what, that alone pays for this." And I'm happy to enter into that agreement and we've not looked back. We've been very, very pleased with what Cotney's provided so far.

Karen Edwards: Wow. That's fantastic. It sounds like it is definitely sharing, as a business owner, because you have to pick up the phone or send that email over and have that service available. And I can see the advantage of bringing in that third party who's not necessarily involved, between a home owner or building owner and you, as the contractor. Where things can get to that point, they help smooth things over. Wow sounds like you are very pleased with that, and I'm happy to hear that. I think the team over at Cotney Construction Law has ... They have a great team of attorneys and they do great work. So, I really appreciate your time today, Ken, and sharing your experiences. We're going to share that with the rest of the audience here at the Coffee Shop. Hopefully, try get the word out about this neat thing that he's doing for business owners.

Ken Kelly: Great. I'm happy to help and, if there's anyone that has a follow up and would like to reach out to me directly I'd be happy to answer any questions. The best way to get me is through email, Ken@kellyroofing.com.

Karen Edwards: Thank you Ken.

Ken Kelly: You're welcome.



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