Today we’d like to introduce you to John Andrew.
John, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I was born and raised in Seattle, WA. I went on to earn my Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management and Operations from Washington State University. After working a few jobs in sales for seven plus years, I decided I needed a career change. I ended up getting a Warranty Representative position with Toll Brothers. Part of the requirement was to go back to school to earn my Construction Management Certificate, which would allow me to move up within the company. With Toll Brothers, I handled the warranty claims that came through during the homeowner’s first few years of owning the house. I managed many types of jobs, from as simple as drywall repairs to as complex as flooring replacements and multiple story leaks. Some of these warranty jobs were very complex and draining on the homeowners who purchased a new home. With these more complex jobs, I found it extremely rewarding to take a poorly constructed house and ensuring it was built to the appropriate standards and seeing the homeowner be extremely happy the work was done right.
In the summer of 2018, my wife and I decided to move to San Diego. Once in San Diego, I got on with a commercial electrical contractor and was put in their estimating department. It was here and during COVID that I realized I wanted to branch out to start my own business in residential home remodeling. With the estimating knowledge I had recently gained and the warranty experience I got at Toll Brothers, I opted to take the chance by leaving my job and starting my own company, Level-Up Home Improvement. Since starting my own company, I may be working longer days, however, taking a customer’s vision of what they want done, helping them see the reality of it while having full control of my schedule has been more rewarding than I could have ever hoped for.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Level-Up Home Improvement has been around for 8+ months now and the road has not been smooth. I originally started the company with a partner, but after five months together, we realized we had different visions of where the company was to go, so we decided to split up. Though the partnership did not work out, I wish her the best in what she does.
The other difficult part has been getting an equal work-life balance. Since starting the company, I do find myself working 80-90 hours per week, 6-7 days a week. This would typically put a strain on a relationship, however, I have a very supportive wife (who started her own company), and she has been very understanding of my busy work schedule.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Level-Up Home Improvement is currently run by myself. As the owner, I run jobs as the Project Manager while subcontracting out the work to my trusted subcontractors. Some jobs I look to take on are drywall, painting, tile, flooring replacements, bathroom remodels, kitchen remodels, etc., through leads on Houzz and Thumbtack as well as referrals. From there, I reach out to a customer’s job request to schedule an on-site job walk with the customer to get a better idea of what they are looking to accomplish, take pictures, and take any necessary measurements. From there, I send the information I collect to my subcontractors and suppliers to price out the labor and materials. Once I have all of the needed information, I then create an estimate and send it over to the customer. If the customer approves of the estimate, I move forward with ordering the materials and scheduling the subcontractors. On the workdays, I meet my subcontractors on-site to get them going with their scope. I then check in on the job at least one other time during the day and throughout the time the job is going on. Once the job is complete, I then meet up with the customer to complete a final job walk to ensure the job was completed to their satisfaction. I do not collect the final payment until the work is 100% complete.
For my jobs, I do strive quality and customer service. To show this, I do one simple thing – communication. I believe this is the most important part of the job. Whether it is with good or bad news, I am always talking to my customers about what is going on with their job. I have found my jobs run a lot smoother when I am honest and upfront with what is going on with their job. Customers are more receptive and appreciate great communication for what is happening with their job.
When it comes to the subcontractors I use, I am very picky. I have tested all of them out on my mother-in-law’s house with their quality of work and how they talked to her. In order for me to use them for future work, they needed to have quality work, great communication skills with me regarding what was going on, and most importantly, had the personality to work while the homeowner was around.
If customers take the chance on my company to complete their work, I want them to know that no matter how small or how large, I am very focused on ensuring the completion of their job to their satisfaction. I do not collect make the final payment until everyone is happy with the work and believe it cannot be done any better.
Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
My insurance broker was great at helping me network when I decided to start my own company. She provided me the contact information of another general contractor to help me understand how they have become successful in San Diego’s remodeling industry. The GC started out small and now takes on larger projects. If she does run across jobs that are not within her scope, she sends them over to me, and if I run into jobs that are not within my scope, I send them to her. Having this connection has helped me gain some business through referrals.
My broker also got me linked up with a group called NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry). I did attend one meeting as a guest. However, they do ask for you to be fully involved in order to be a member. Since my company hit the ground running, I have found it difficult to keep myself involved. NARI did not work for me, but it will definitely help someone who is brand new to the industry and looking to find a mentor or network.
- Email: John.LevelUpSD@gmail.com
- Website: https://levelupsd.com
- Instagram: leveluphomeimprovement_sd
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/leveluphomeimprovementsandiego