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EPISODE 187: JK Moving Residential Sales Veep Brian McGuinness Tells How 212 – The Extra Degree – Inspires Extra Effort and Care from His Team Members
BRIAN’S FINAL TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Don’t look back, look forward. Do the right thing each and every day and lead by example. Have an attitude of gratitude. “
Brian McGuinness is the VP of Residential Sales at JK Moving.
Prior to coming over to JK he held sales leadership roles at the North American Housing Corporation.
He was an infantry officer with the US Army for 10 years.
We also interviewed Vince Burruano from JK Moving for this podcast.
Find Brian on LinkedIn!
Fred Diamond: Why don’t you tell us a little more about you that we need to know?
Brian McGuinness: Like my friend Vince Burruano, I too am a New Yorker who transplanted down to Norther Virginia 30 years ago this month, as a matter of fact. This is also the 30th anniversary that I’m enjoying at the moment, too. Interesting story about that was when I left the military I went back east to go to graduate school and my lovely bride-to-be from Alabama then came from New York and we had to relocate down south.
Fred Diamond: This is halfway there, sort of.
Brian McGuinness: That’s correct.
Fred Diamond: Where are you from in New York?
Brian McGuinness: I was born and raised in Queens, New York. My family is from the Bronx and we moved out to Long Island when we were youngsters after my dad returned back from the Korean War.
Fred Diamond: What do you sell today? Tell us a little more about what you sell at JK Moving and tell us a little bit about why that excites you.
Brian McGuinness: As the VP of Residential Sales, I do just that. I like to think that I sell worry-free moves and helping families navigate through the moving process is very important to me. I continuously ask my team, “What matters most to the customer? Let’s see if we can exceed those expectations.” It’s rewarding, I enjoy it very much and every day is a challenge.
Fred Diamond: People who listen to the podcast like to know who our Sales Game Changers sell to. You sell to families, would that be the mother of the family or do you sell to other partners that help you get the sale? How does that typically work?
Brian McGuinness: I’d say about 17 thousand relocations last year, half of those were residential COD so the majority of time we’re selling to the housewife who’s at home. We do that through a network of realtors and builders with model homes and networking agencies. That’s pretty much our clientele.
Fred Diamond: Just curiously, I know obviously it’s a competitive space but when you’re at that point of speaking to the housewife or whomever, are you competing with someone else or is it pretty much you’re just trying to sell JK Moving?
Brian McGuinness: We have competition obviously each day but our goal as a leader in the industry is selling these services in the quality and the value of JK.
Fred Diamond: Tell us a little bit about how you got into sales as a career.
Brian McGuinness: I came from a sales professional family. My 5 brothers and my sister Kathleen were all into sales and my dad was in the transmission franchise business out on Long Island, so we learned from a young age what it was like to sell. Besides that, my PIR, the predictive behavior index said that I had DNA sales blood [Laughs] I was destined for sales and I enjoy it.
Fred Diamond: Again, just curiously I mentioned that you were in the US Army for 10 years. What are some of the takeaways you had from being in the army that have helped you become a leading sales professional?
Brian McGuinness: I went to a military academy and I learned very early on that as a future leader you have to lead by example. I remember as a young lad working at my dad’s shops on Long Island he used to say to me, “Brian, you have to commit on Saturdays and Sundays to clean up the shop, you have to learn to take orders before you can give them” but also always lead by example and integrity. That’s what I try to do.
Fred Diamond: What are some of the other key lessons you took away from some of your first few sales jobs?
Brian McGuinness: I knew that taking a sales team that was rather young and trying to make them as successful as they possibly could be, that we had to be creatures of education. Always learning continuously and this is what we do each and every day. We set task condition standards and we try to solve problems and promote the product. We do it every day.
Fred Diamond: You talked about continuous learning, what are some of the things that you’re trying to learn today that you’re focusing your energies on?
Brian McGuinness: One of the things I’m trying to do is to take a sales force that I have and continue to enjoy the double digit growth we’ve had in the eleven years I’ve been here. In order to do that, we do that through continued education, we participate in chamber events, in networking events and everybody’s responsible for their territory in growing that by double digit growth each year.
Fred Diamond: Just curiously, what makes a good professional selling residential moving services?
Brian McGuinness: Product knowledge and bringing customers into our place of business. Showing them our two story home, our trucks mounted to the floor, our training room, educating them on what we do each and every day and showing them how we differentiate from all other competitions out there. Our 80 hours of training before we hit the pavement selling from the product. The average tenure of an employee at JK is 8.5 years, we’re not out there putting a uniform on a daily labor employee and calling him a JK representative, not the case.
Fred Diamond: What do customers want when they purchase residential moving services? Is it the cost, is it security, is it the fact that nothing’s going to get broken?
Brian McGuinness: All of the above, quite frankly. We want to educate them on our training and how we do that and we want to share with them the process by which we go through, we want to invite them to our facilities, see firsthand how we do things and of course quality and value are a priority. We are the largest independent mover in America and we’re very proud of that. As a leader in the industry, often times you have a target on your back and you have to be not only as good as the competition but better.
Fred Diamond: Tell us a little more about you, tell us what you’re an expert in. Tell us a little more about your specific area of brilliance.
Brian McGuinness: I believe that managers spend more time managing their people than any other process and we should. I believe that as a leader you need to be a motivator, a communicator, a negotiator and I try to be all those things. I teach my team that what works for me when I’m in a home is to inquire what matters the most, ask for permission when you take notes and what concerns customers and that seems to be very helpful building trust.
Fred Diamond: You also mentioned that you get referrals from real estate agents and things like that. How does that sales process typically work? What do you recommend to your people?
Brian McGuinness: We gather our referrals from realtors and from property managers and concierge services in the town house and condominiums in Arlington and DC. We work with a network of people every day and we go out and do breakfasts of champions and lunch & learns and shows and sponsorships. We participate in open houses on the weekends, we really are building that trust and that relationship every day.
Fred Diamond: You’ve been a sales leader for about 30 somewhat years now, why don’t you tell us about an impactful sales career mentor and how they impacted your career?
Brian McGuinness: Fred, I would have to say with any degree of hesitation at all, my father was my mentor. He was a power of example and he led every day by doing the right things. It was interesting, his mom passed away when he was two, he was an orphan raised by the Christian Brothers and he went off to fight in the war, came back, met the love of his life, raised a family of 6 children and became the New York Times Long Island businessman of the year. It was an amazing thing. During the mid-70’s, Ralph Nader, consumer advocate and presidential hopeful at one time led an investigation – a sting, if you will – on automobile repair shops, car dealerships all across the east coast of the United States going in with transmission issues and repair issues.
When this opportunity presented itself, unbeknownst to him he did what he always does, the right thing. Small and minor repairs were done for free, loaner cars were given to customers so they could be on their way quickly. I remember as a youngster in 10th grade pulling up one day in my used Chevy Nova, my dad saying to me, “Brian, give your car up to a customer, they need it and you have to wait until the job is done today before I can take you home.” Those things he did and the honesty and the integrity and the core values that he displayed to us every day as kids growing up, he was definitely a power of example and my mentor, Fred.
Fred Diamond: Again, you’re managing a lot of people, you’re working for a great brand right now but there’s obviously challenges that you face. What are the two biggest challenges you face today as a sales leader?
Brian McGuinness: I would say the first one would be recruiting the right people and getting the word out there, and keeping that bullpen lining established so if you have any turnover, you’re prepared to drive on with the mission. I’d say the second one is the quality employee retention. Recruiting and keeping them, that’s big for any company out there and I read recently that in the year 2020 there’ll be a shortage of a million commercial drivers throughout our country. We have to be able to deal with that and prepare for that as best we possibly can.
Fred Diamond: We’ve also interviewed Kristina Bouweiri who runs a company called Reston Limousine.
Brian McGuinness: Yes, I know.
Fred Diamond: She was a great episode as well and she mentioned that was one of the big challenges. Just curiously, recruiting and retention, that comes up obviously not infrequently in the Sales Game Changers podcast. What are some things that you all are doing to solve those two challenges?
Brian McGuinness: We’ve got training going on, we have a professional team of recruiters on staff here at JK, we offer driver training as well, we have some of the best senior representatives at JK to help us with the training. As a matter of fact, just this past week Johnny Harris just celebrated 31 years with JK. You can’t ask for a better coach, mentor and trainer than Johnny and I’ll tell you something, Fred I participate in all the new recruits coming through. Particularly the summer when it’s our busy season, we bring in hundreds of young men and women from college coming home to help us with the peak season and I share with them our core values and our 212 The Extra Degree and I see there’s some great talent out there. We hope that we can keep as many of them as possible.
Fred Diamond: What does that mean, 212 – The Extra Degree?
Brian McGuinness: There’s a philosophy I believe in and I’ve studied for years, it’s called 212 The Extra Degree. Quite frankly, at 211 degrees the water’s hot, that’s all it is. You can’t cook with it, you can’t boil an egg with it. One more degree, it’s then 212 and at 212 the water boils and when it boils it generates steam, and with steam you can power an engine. One degree makes a difference and to my sales team every day I ask them to give me that one degree. It’s quantifiable, it’s measurable. Make that call, talk to that realtor, set up that appointment, get back to people with that proposal you have for them and your life will change.
I do triathlons and marathons for kids for cancer and I tell them each and every day, I coach Golden Glove Boxing, I’ve been doing so for 27 years and I tell the kids when they come and say, “Coach, I won a spar today.” I say, “Before we hit the bags and hit the gloves, tell me what you did at home, tell me how you helped your mom empty the dishwasher and how you took out the trash and you helped your sibling with homework. What’s the extra degree that you did that made you special today?” and it really pays off.
Fred Diamond: Take us back to the #1 specific sale success or win from your career you’re most proud of.
Brian McGuinness: It would have to be when the CEO and President of JK, Chuck Kuhn came up to me and said, “Brian, proud of your double digit growth each year you’ve been here.” That, I love. I love the autonomy that Mr. Kuhn gives to me, the freedom to lead as I see fit. There’s no micromanaging here at JK Moving and I love that, I love being able to keep within the core values of JK and there’s so many to mention but that’s just one or two that comes to mind, Fred.
Fred Diamond: Your company has done a lot of good things in the community as well. I know your company is also into things like sustainable farming as well. Can you talk a little bit about how that helps you in the sales process? What exactly are you doing from a company perspective and how does that help you as a VP of sales?
Brian McGuinness: Yes, sir. You’ve brought to attention JK’s outreach program, our commitment to community and that’s what matters most to us. We’re a company that gives back and I’m proud to be working for such a company doing that. In our community farm last year alone we provided approximately 52,500 pounds of fresh produce to families in need and food banks and I just love that. I love the fact that there’s opportunities for volunteering and educational classes at our farm and helps the students who have to give community time before they can graduate, that counts towards that. What matters most to us through our outreach program matters most to me as well.
Fred Diamond: Did you ever think to yourself, “It’s too hard, it’s just not for me”?
Brian McGuinness: Negative. I have never doubted my ability and competency as a sales leader, I love to lead by example, I love to help young sales reps become successful and have careers at JK Moving. I could tell you, Fred that the average tenure of a sales consultant at JK is 12 years and up. One of my senior sales reps just celebrated 26 last week as well, so no. I love what I do, believe in it and lead by example.
Fred Diamond: Before we go to the break, what are some of the things that a great sales rep selling residential moving services, what are some characteristics of that type of a person?
Brian McGuinness: They’re hunters, they go out and they make things happen and they are passionate and they believe that each and every day is a new opportunity. As we say, if you have a tough day, go out and sell something and it’ll turn bright for you. Each day we meet as a group and we talk about, “What are your priorities for the day? What was your victory from yesterday? What road blocks do you face currently that we can help you with and keep that morale, teamwork and core values up each and every day?”
Fred Diamond: What’s the most important thing you want to get across to the junior selling professionals listening around the globe to help them take their career to the next level?
Brian McGuinness: I would say, Fred that it would have to be “be a lifelong student.” The more you know, the more you earn and the more self-confidence you gather from that. I believe in that, I believe in participating in educational training. The Institute for Excellence in Sales, we’re very much involve with that and we believe in it, it’s helped us and I convey and pass that information down through the ranks. Never stop learning, embrace authenticity and integrity, look at customers as people, as human beings, find a way to connect with them, I tell my team. Look beyond the monetary gain and focus on building relationships.
Fred Diamond: Tell us about one of your sales habits that has led to your continued success.
Brian McGuinness: I go back to the 212 philosophy, go the extra degree making a difference in people’s lives. I believe very much in a new sales training we’re using right now called the Four Disciplines of Execution. These are opportunities that we have at JK to talk about new principles, new goals, new objectives that we have every day and the Four Disciplines of Execution, I believe it’s by Chris McChesney and Sean Covey, it’s a simple, repeatable formula for success on educating and executing on strategic plans. It’s focusing on just one or two goals that are important, it’s acting on lead measures, it’s keeping that compelling score board and creating a cadence of accountability. I got to tell you, it’s all about setting goals and execution and we love it, it’s worked great for us.
Fred Diamond: Is that the major initiative you’re working on today to ensure your continued success or is there something else you’re working on?
Brian McGuinness: That is it. It’s working for us, I’m very excited about it and there’s also another one. Through you we met John Asher on Closing Deals Faster, and Brian Tracy and other motivational people that I love reading about. The education, the training, the selling habits never end.
Fred Diamond: You’ve got to keep going after it. Sales is hard, you’re in a very competitive space, people don’t return your calls, they don’t return your emails. Why have you continued? What is it about sales as a career that has kept you going?
Brian McGuinness: I love the new opportunities, I love the challenges, I truly love the interaction with others. I’m at my best, Fred when I’m in front of other people. I sit on the Board of Directors for Chamber of Commerce and Leadership Loudoun Youth and Big Brother with the United Way. I just love getting out there and sharing with the people what we do, and I must say that some people might say sales is hard, I don’t. I love it, I live for it every day and I think that optimism is contagious.
One of the things that I do when I meet with people, part of that 212 The Extra Degree is every person I meet with, I try to send out a thank you card with either a Starbucks or Subway card in it. It’s the little extra things to say thank you for that, the differentiators out there that take place. It’s just an opportunity to excel every day and I truly love it. We have a program on self-improvement and it’s called Commit to Growth, and it’s a self-paced course training program. We’re conducting business online with video surveys right now, we have a unique new customer application to make the ordering process simple for customers, they can do it online. Our new 24/7 phone coverage live every day, there’s so much going on just making it easier, not harder.
Fred Diamond: Actually, you just gave us a lot of great examples. Before we ask you for your final tip, again you mentioned that the two biggest challenges you face are recruiting and then retaining great people. Why don’t you give us one final pitch here about why somebody would want to come work on your sales team at JK Moving.
Brian McGuinness: I believe that leadership and doing the right thing and motivation is contagious. I believe and I share this: lead by example, first impressions count, nothing is impossible. I believe that outstanding people have one thing in common and that’s an absolute sense of mission, “Let’s accomplish the mission.” Sales professionals are reminded for what we give back, how much we care and speaking of giving back and caring, I go back to our community commitment. I go back to our community farm and I go back to another mentor of mine, the president and CEO of JK, Chuck Kuhn. His getting back not just in the spirit of responsible capitalism but being a good person and a power of example for all of our employees, that to me is inspiration, Fred.
Fred Diamond: Brian, this has been a great interview, I thank you so much. I want to thank JK Moving, again you guys have been a corporate member of the IES and now a sponsor for the last couple of years. We actually have an award event every year, you were one of our recipients probably about 6, 7 years ago so it’s good to get some more insights into you and what you think. Brian, give us one final thought to inspire our listeners around the globe today.
Brian McGuinness: Don’t look back, look forward. Do the right thing each and every day, lead by example. Again, have an attitude of gratitude.