David VS Goliath – S1 – Episode 8 – Chet Hitt – “Great Odin’s Raven!”
In this episode only Adam DeGraide and DVG can talk about death and actually make it fun and educational. Chet Hitt owns several businesses in California including 2 cemeteries, several mortuaries a couple of restaurants, a farmers market and a whisky distillery. Whew…thats a lot going on. Anyway this is a good interview with a lot of valuable information for the DVG watcher and listener. Enjoy!
Adam DeGraide: Coming up today on David Versus Goliath. We’re talking about death, one of the most exciting things that people love to talk about every single day.
Chet Hitt: I used to sell graves door-to-door, and people would laugh at me. Well, I’ll just take a chainsaw and cut my house in half.
Speaker 3: Welcome to today’s episode of David Versus Goliath, a podcast dedicated to helping small businesses leverage technology to not only help them compete against their large competitors, [00:00:30] but win. Your host is currently the CEO of Anthem Business Software, a three time Inc. 500 recipient, and a serial entrepreneur with a passion to help small businesses everywhere find, serve and keep more customers profitably. Please join me in welcoming your host, Adam DeGraide.
Adam DeGraide: Hey everyone, it’s Adam DeGraide with another amazing episode of David Versus Goliath. Thank you so much for joining us today. This is going to be interesting because I know [00:01:00] everyone loves talking about death, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today on David Versus Goliath. We have Chet Hitt, who’s fantastic. Chet, give everyone a thumbs up. It’s so great to have you here. Before we get into the interview, I just want to take a second to cover some housekeeping items. Number one, you can visit us online at DavidVsGoliathPodcast.com. That’s DavidVsGoliathPodcast.com. There, you can subscribe and [00:01:30] apply to be on the podcast. Also, make sure you subscribe to us if you watch podcasts on YouTube, and then if you listen to podcasts anywhere from Spotify to Apple, to Google Podcast, to whatever podcast application, most likely we’re there. We are so grateful to have you.
Anyway, at this point in time let’s get going right away with Chet Hitt. Chet Hitt, welcome to David Versus Goliath.
Chet Hitt: Glad to be here. It’s going to be a great day I think.
Adam DeGraide: It is going to be a great day. One of the things I always said when I [00:02:00] was younger raising my first set of children, I read a book by Zig Ziglar called “See You at the Top,” Chet, and one of his ideas that he had in the book was every morning you wake up, you clap twice and you say “It’s going to be a great day.” I remember for years I would run around the house, and I’d wake up in the morning like 6:00 in the morning and I’d go “It’s going to be a great day.” My kids would be like, “What on earth are you doing, dad? That is crazy.” But it’s always been a really important thing. I think people don’t realize that how you [00:02:30] start the day from an attitude perspective affects the rest of the day, right?
Chet Hitt: Absolutely.
Adam DeGraide: If you wake up with a bad attitude, you’re in no danger of having a good day. But if you wake up with a great attitude, you get a chance at it. Speaking of great attitudes, tell the listeners all of the different businesses right now that you’re juggling and managing. I think they’d find it fascinating.
Chet Hitt: I run three different companies, but the crazy about it is, it’s all about the team that we have on staff. They’re the ones who get the results. [00:03:00] Every great entrepreneur can have great ideas, but if they don’t have the team behind them to get stuff done, they’re not going to get to where they need to go. So, it takes a team effort to get there. With that being said, I actually started off kind of a crazy game that I played. I worked for a family business for years. My father started it, and my brother took over, so I worked for him for years. Then I was wanting to be a partner, and he was promising me a partnership and didn’t deliver. Long story [00:03:30] short, I was playing racquetball when I was 26 years old with a buddy of mine in Victorville, California and he said “What a shame,” that my mother couldn’t be buried in our home town of Apple Valley.
I said, “Dude, we should build a cemetery.” Literally, the next day we looked at a contract. I drove down to LA to Forest Lawn, the granddaddy of all cemeteries, and I started measuring graves. Then when I realized I measured these graves, I figured what [00:04:00] the heck. You can get about 1,600 graves per acre. So, I turned around and started this little cemetery with a buddy of mine. After a few years, he took off with his other business. So, I took him out and here we are. Right now, we are the largest privately held cemetery company in Southern California.
Adam DeGraide: That is amazing. How many cemeteries are there right now? I think there’s a handful, right?
Chet Hitt: I have two cemeteries and six mortuaries.
Adam DeGraide: [00:04:30] Wow, that is… On David Versus Goliath, we don’t typically talk to cemetery owners and mortuaries, but this is a real business. I would imagine that… Is it referred to as the “Death Industry”? How do they refer to it as the actual industry itself?
Chet Hitt: Death Industry. The crazy thing is, is when I started, what was funny about it is, I used to sell graves door-to-door and people would laugh at me. I knocked on doors and told [00:05:00] them my story. One led to another, to a referral, to a referral, to another, to another to the point now we do about $1 million a month in gross sales.
Adam DeGraide: That’s unbelievable. For the listeners listening to David Versus Goliath, think about this, 26 years old, Chet’s out there having a conversation, recognizes a need and then he doesn’t wait to figure it out. The very next day he goes out… This is the thing, Chet, that people don’t really appreciate about [00:05:30] entrepreneurship/business people, is if you hesitate on an idea your most likely never to do it. If you see something and you have an idea, strike hard, strike fast. As the Dojo leader from Cobra Kai says, “Show no mercy” on the idea. You got to get out there and do it. To start that and to now all these years later having such an amazing business like this, it’s inspiring for people that are listening to the show.
When you think about those early days [00:06:00] in buying and building up your first cemetery, I would imagine everything was kind of hodge-podged together. You were learning new things, you really weren’t organized. But now that you have so many and that you’re actually further along in the industry, do you actually take time to have plans and goals on how you’re going to expand that business and communicate more effectively to the bereaved as well as the people that you need to reach that don’t even realize that they’re going to have that need at some point?
Chet Hitt: You know what’s crazy, is the pandemic opened [00:06:30] up a whole new avenue for that. We’ve never seen what we saw this last year. We had more deaths than literally all my competitors in the Valley where I live, literally quit taking bodies and people’s loved ones. We were picking up close to 25 on average a day. We had to put in containers and coolers, and stuff to make sure we give every family the respect that they deserved. [00:07:00] It was an interesting process. We as a company, I literally had to shut most of my operations that I would do on a personal level with the other companies down and we worked it for almost 90 days.
I was literally in the prep room, which people don’t like to talk about, but I was literally there every evening having a management meeting with my manager. While he was embalming we would talk about how we’re going to get through this crisis. It was a very humbling experience, but it was also [00:07:30] very gratifying because we serve families that people just wouldn’t serve. They were staying in the hospitals and the hospitals didn’t have spots for them. So, we did everything we could. We got through it. It was a crisis, but at the end of the day our team rose to the occasion and I’m very proud of what they’ve done.
Again, everybody thinks life is easy as entrepreneur because “Oh, you win. You do really well,” and they look at you like you didn’t have to work to get [00:08:00] there. An old movie actress that’s buried at my cemetery by the name of Roy Rodgers and Dell Evans, but Dell Evans said to me one day, she says “Chet, you’re never enjoy the peaks unless you go through the valleys.”
Adam DeGraide: Yeah, it’s so true Chet.
Chet Hitt: If we’re in business and you’re running the team, you have good days and bad days, but you make every day an optimistic move, that you learn from the bad, move to the front.
Adam DeGraide: You know what’s interesting about Chet, for the listeners that are listening to David Versus Goliath, it’s not a pleasant [00:08:30] subject to talk about, but it is a legitimate business. Chet also has other business interests that he’s actually looked at over the years as well too. So, you’re not only owning mortuaries and cemeteries, you own a couple of restaurants, you’re building a hotel or I think you should say condos would be the phrase. Tell the listeners a little bit about the other businesses because it’s not like you’re just hanging out at the cemeteries and mortuaries all the time. You have other things that you’re doing that are also businesses [00:09:00] that are successful in their own right as well.
Chet Hitt: You know what’s crazy is, I believe in the underdog. I think that’s exactly what this podcast is about, David and Goliath. I had a mobile home trailer on the Colorado River in Topock, Arizona, population eight. I go down there and I have a trailer there, I have a nice boat, and then that was my vacation spot. Long story short, a developer came in to buy the [00:09:30] mobile home park, marina, restaurant, bar, gas. When I went down and met with the gentleman I said, “Hey, can I get a longterm lease?” He says, “No. We’re going to buy this company. We’re going to put in condos. We’re going to kick everybody out, and then at that point you’re going to have to leave.”
So I thought oh, crap man, I just put a lot of money in trailer. It’s my vacation home. I’ve got my own private dock. I thought life was good. Next thing I know, I’m on the lease but I’m going to get kicked out. [00:10:00] The next morning I went down and saw the guy in the restaurant having breakfast. I said to him again, “Hey buddy, you sure we can’t work something out on a longterm lease?” He says, “Hey buddy, didn’t you effing hear me? I said yesterday I’m kicking everybody effing out of here and I’m going to move in your effing house.”
Adam DeGraide: This guy-
Chet Hitt: [crosstalk 00:10:19]. Yeah, being frustrated I figured okay, after three or four days I thought well I’ll just take a chainsaw and cut my house in half because he’s not going to move into it, [00:10:30] because he pissed me off so bad. I’m not used to people talking that way to me. So about 10 days into it, I called the people up and says, “If this guy doesn’t close escrow by the end of the month, eff him. I’ll just go ahead and buy it myself.” Next thing I know, ego, testosterone and everything that men do and entrepreneurs do, the next thing I know I own a restaurant and bar on the Colorado River.
Adam DeGraide: It’s pretty cool, man. It’s pretty cool. For the listeners-
Chet Hitt: Yeah, it is kind of cool. The stories are great.
Adam DeGraide: The stories are great. [00:11:00] Topock66.com is where they can go check it out. It’s fascinating to see that story of… Your hand was really forced in a lot of ways, but you took advantage of it and turned what could have been lemons into lemonade as they say. Then back in the high desert, you’ve also started a new thing called Town’s End, which is going to be a restaurant. It’s currently a farmer’s market. You’re also work on a distillery of your own. Tell the listeners a little bit about that.
Chet Hitt: This is probably [00:11:30] the coolest project I’ve ever built. Obviously, we’re not totally open, but we ended up with a building that we were stuck with, and again back to your lemonade versus lemons, we turned around and took this building… I didn’t want to go into the brewery business because there’s another micro brewery in the village there, so I though well let’s go into the [inaudible 00:11:51] business. I was in a little town called Comfort, Texas. This guy gave me a little tour of a little distillery. I said, “Man, we can do this.”
Adam DeGraide: That’s cool.
Chet Hitt: We have [00:12:00] taken this building, it’s taken us a couple of years, but just literally this week we were installing our still. We will produce about 60,000 bottles of whiskey, bourbon, vodka or gin a year. We added a restaurant to it, so we will be doing a lot of our higher end beef… Our aged beef and different things like that. We’re going to take that project to another level, but because of needing barrel storage, right next to this piece of property was an old lumberyard [00:12:30] that was closed for about eight-10 years. I bought the lumberyard because it has high buildings in it to store our whiskey, and at the same time we made it into an event center/farmer’s market, and booths and stuff like that.
It’s been a fun project. It’s every day something new and exciting. A lot of moving parts, but I believe you got to look at every single day. It’s going to be a challenge no matter what we do. The question is, is how you handle the challenge. Believe me, I’ve had my weak moments. I had one just a couple [00:13:00] of weeks ago. I got pretty frustrated. The positives always outweigh the negatives.
Adam DeGraide: Everybody has weak moments, man, as an entrepreneur, no matter where you’re at. Especially one like of yourself that you see these opportunities, you see these things that other people can’t see, and you move into them and you have vision for it that’s beyond it. That’s really what entrepreneurship really is about. It’s seeing something that could be, or something that exists somewhere else and saying either “I can [00:13:30] do it. I can do it better,” and you go out and you take that chance. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come with, like you said, the peaks and the valleys. Everything that ends up being successful ultimately has challenges, and that includes everything I’ve ever done in my life business-wise and professional as well too.
Nothing is ever a straight line. It’s always jagged and all over the place. For the people that are listening-
Chet Hitt: That’s exactly why you… every day to make it positive day.
Adam DeGraide: Think about it, you run a mortuary and a cemetery. [00:14:00] You’re surrounded by death, and you have a great attitude. That’s not easy to do. If Chet can do it, we all can do it. Before we transition on a quick break, I wanted to ask you to go back a little bit just to close the chapter on plans and goals. You were talking about how you do plans and goals, but one of the things that has been very helpful to you is your people. You said you can’t do it without people, good people. Tell us a little bit about your team right now, and then some of the things that you’ve done to attract great people, keep them, and then incentivize them [00:14:30] to help you grow your businesses.
Chet Hitt: One of the big things that we’ve done, we tried to grow within. Have we had to go to outside sources here and there? Yeah. I believe that if somebody doesn’t have the passion for the job, we’re not going to get where we want to go. So, they got to believe in it and know that we’re going to the next level. Again, not easy. We struggle a lot. We beat each other up a lot, but at the end of the day we got to roll up our sleeves and get the results and get the job done. I think that’s the key [00:15:00] to my management style, is I keep thinking I’m getting too old and probably not have the best management style in the future.
The reality of it is, is now we’re at the point of letting the next generation take over. When I look at people that work for me now, if I died tomorrow being in the death business, can they take this dream, fulfill, maybe not dream as much as I do, but can they fulfill it, maintain it and [00:15:30] serve the community on every aspect of what we believe our dream would be?
Adam DeGraide: It’s a great point, and I think about that every day. You want to leave a legacy. You want to equip people and empower them, and that is a good question for all of us as business owners to say, “If we roll a seven and we’re no longer on planet earth, are we doing a good enough job with the people that God has entrusted us with in our businesses right now [00:16:00] to mentor them, develop them so in the event that that does happen,” because eventually it will happen to all of us, in the event that that does happen, our business can continue, the community can continue to be served, our clientele can continued to be served, and everyone wins.
Chet, hold on with me a sec. We’re going to take a quick break. This is David Versus Goliath. I’m your host, Adam DeGraide. A quick message from our sponsor, Anthem Software.
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Adam DeGraide: [00:17:00] We’re back with Chet, and we’re talking about death, one of the most exciting things that people love to talk about every single day. Every one of us loves to be reminded that we are… Matter of fact Chet, the last time I checked the death rate is one per person. So, that means that all of us are going to roll a seven. Staying positive, [00:17:30] thinking about your multiple businesses you have, the amazing people you have in those businesses, how do you stay positive? How do you work on helping your people with the process of running all the complexities of your business? When you think about a cemetery and a mortuary, there’s a lot of processes that are involved in that. When you think about running a restaurant and a new project that you’re going to be building, ownership, condos or apartments that people can own on the river, that’s process [00:18:00] involved in that.
When you think about the farmer’s market and the distillery, there’s going to be people and there’s going to be process surrounding that. How are you right now, Chet, working with your team to try to make sure that they’re saying and doing all the right things based on the right business and then obviously having something that can sustain beyond yourself in just a few key people?
Chet Hitt: That’s what exciting about the future, is it’s all about the future and where we’re going with this. The future really boils down to is, we [00:18:30] feel like we’ve sustained. We feel like we’re there. But the question is, is how we’re going to the next level, and what items are we going to bring into our companies that’s going to take us to the next level. For example, working out with you guys, coming up with a plan with how we’re going to grow our business. We are reaching out with you to take us to the next level, and we’re going to market, how we’re going to showcase it because marketing has changed so much. In the old days, it was TV, newspaper, [00:19:00] radio. All of those are dead items now-
Adam DeGraide: Yeah, they are. It’s [crosstalk 00:19:04].
Chet Hitt: If you don’t change with the times, how are you going to get where you want to go? I think that’s the one thing that over time is, how do we change our management style to accommodate the community, what’s going on not just in our community but in our country, and how things can affect what we do, and even the politics side of how things can affect what we do. [00:19:30] To me, you just got to hit every problem head on and see how you can come out, and hopefully you win, and hopefully your batting average is really good. I think right now with our companies and the goals that we’ve set for our company, I think everything is obtainable. The problem that some people run into when they set a goal, they overthink it.
Adam DeGraide: Why don’t you [crosstalk 00:19:53] by that? What do you mean by they overthink it?
Chet Hitt: I run into people sometimes that will just sit there [00:20:00] and think that they have to analyze and solve all the problems that may come before you even start. Part of the thing that I’ve found over the years is, I don’t know what problems are out there so why think about them? Let’s just hit it as much as you can head on now. Do it. As the problems come, you can manage yourself through it.
Adam DeGraide: It’s interesting you say that because we have a slogan and I train my sales people, the worst thing that can happen to a business owner or during a sales process, [00:20:30] is what I call “Paralysis Through Analysis”. It’s where we literally get locked up in making a decision and moving forward because we’re trying to be perfect in that decision. I used to tell people, “Listen, you can’t get locked in through paralysis through analysis. At some point, progress is perfection. You’re never going to be perfect. You’ll run into different obstacles. But if we’re making progress every day that is perfection.”
When you’re talking about marketing and tools, [00:21:00] obviously for your restaurant and Town’s Inn, all of those things are going to be social media, digital marketing. I bet you the listeners would find it fascinating, that’s even changed even in the mortuary business, right? In the cemetery business, right? Everything has moved online. When they have a crisis at home with a loved one who is recently deceased or deceased quickly, the very first place we all go to is Google. That’s probably the same even in the death business, isn’t it?
Chet Hitt: It’s growing more and more. During the pandemic, we actually were able [00:21:30] to do a lot of stuff with DocuSign. It’s amazing, if you go back 25 years ago when I started the cemetery business, everybody mailed it… You sent out a statement and you mailed in a check. Now, everything is autopay. Now, everything is credit card. A few years ago, you didn’t have DocuSign that you can send to a family. A lot of arrangements that we’re doing is like through what we’re doing here today. You got to Zoom meet with the family, go online and try to do the best you can [00:22:00] to help that family through the process. You still have the personal touch, but yeah the technology game has changed tremendously.
Adam DeGraide: It really has. It really has changed so much. In some ways, I think it’s been good for us a society. In other ways, I wonder and question. We don’t want to lose our souls in this aspect either. I love it when I get a chance to see you when I’m up visiting my in laws up there in the desert. I get to give you a high five. You and I [00:22:30] can give ourselves a virtual high five right now, but there’s nothing like pressing the flesh or seeing someone face-to-face and smiling at them, and putting your hand on their shoulder if they just lost a loved one and they’re mourning, and just letting them know that they’re loved and that they’re cared for.
But technology also gives us the ability to serve more people with as much humanity as we possibly can. I think as long as a society we continue to embrace the fact that we need each other, connectivity is important. We want to have the blend of the using technology [00:23:00] as well as not forsaking the ability for us to see each other face-to-face, which is critical. From a marketing perspective, I would imagine that it’s even shifted dramatically. I was talking with Bob [Taska 00:23:13], who runs 14 auto dealerships. Back in their day, it was TV, radio, newspaper, Yellow Pages even years ago. All of that dollars have shifted now to where the audience is, which is in this new pond called technology.
[00:23:30] That’s the same with any business that’s listening to this podcast right now. If you don’t have a good digital presence and a really good Internet presence, and a social media presence, you’re dead in the water. However, Chet, you and I have been talking about recently some of the things that you have to have in a business, which is great phone process, and that’s something that is not easy to do. I think we’ve identified even with working with you, that there are some things that we can improve on [00:24:00] in those aspects.
Have you noticed that that is the first point that many businesses touch people, and in some cases one of the weakest parts of their business is how they handle the phone. Tell the people right now what you’re personally doing internally to improve on even the way you answer the phone and handle all of your different businesses.
Chet Hitt: It’s crazy, because being in the funeral business when you were doing that many cases, you were always there to pick up the phone. Now, since the pandemic we’ve realized we need a little bit more automation. We need [00:24:30] to be able to track it. We need to be able to understand how can we make sure each customer gets served and not have stuff fall through the cracks. That’s where the technology side of this is coming. Like my still house, I call it “The House that Relationships Built”. You got to keep that relationship in any business that you have.
Back to your personal touch, the knuckles or whatever, we got to get to the point that that stays there. But if we don’t have the technology to get us through the next level to make sure we’re following up [00:25:00] on every family or every customer to give them the best customer service, again you’re probably too young to remember this, but I remember the days when you went to a gas station and you got full service. They came out and pumped your gas. Then it went to self-service. Who would have ever thought Kodak would be out of business in the Kodak pictures?
Adam DeGraide: It’s crazy.
Chet Hitt: There are so many things that have changed so quickly in time. We served a lady that was 100-something years old not long ago. Can you imagine what she [00:25:30] saw [crosstalk 00:25:31] she’d gone through? Look at what’s changed for us in the last 20 years in business. So, I think we’re ever-changing, and I think it’s all about attitude and being able to accept the change, and move forward and do the best you can with it.
Adam DeGraide: It’s so true. The core principles of loving and serving people on the phone, loving and serving people when they’re in your restaurant or at your cemetery or at your mortuary, in my case loving and serving people when I’m talking to them on the phone or the Internet, [00:26:00] and trying to help them grow their business. Our listeners and our watchers, I hope that David Versus Goliath is giving you valuable information in things that are practical. The three words that I try to use that I’m trying to do here, Chet, are basically very simple.
We want to inspire people, educate people, and activate people, because I think all of us as entrepreneurs need those three things. I need inspiration. I’m inspired with the fact every time I talk to you that [00:26:30] you have that bold personality that sees an opportunity and goes for it. It doesn’t mean that they’re all successful, no, but you’re not afraid to do it. I can learn from that, that’s inspiring. Then there’s the educational component where we can learn from each other. Somebody might have a better of answering the phone. Somebody might have a better process of doing this. We can learn from it.
But the key one in all three of these when you’re looking at inspiration, is actually activation. So, you want inspiration, education and activation. That’s [00:27:00] where most people fail. I call it a “Deficiency of Execution”. There’s only two reasons why I’ve found that businesses are successful or not successful. They either don’t know what to do, which is a deficiency of knowledge. Or they do know what to do, and they just don’t do it, which is a deficiency of execution. Which businesses do you think fail the most? Knowledge or execution, in your mind, Chet?
Chet Hitt: Execution.
Adam DeGraide: Yeah. By the way, isn’t it true even in our own initiative-
Chet Hitt: [crosstalk 00:27:29] if [00:27:30] you don’t execute you’re not going to be able to get where you want to go. You’ve got to… I look at our management team. Are we perfect? No, we’re not. But you know what, if we take the chance and take the risk, then we can sit down and discuss how to solve the problem from there. That’s, to me, a big part of where we’re trying to go. Again, we’re far from perfect. I got 150 employees or something like that. Everybody plays a vital role to the future. We have to execute. [00:28:00] If you don’t execute, then you’re never going to get there.
Adam DeGraide: That’s awesome. Hold on one more second. We’re going to take another quick message from another sponsor here on David Versus Goliath.
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Adam DeGraide: [00:29:00] We’re back for our final segment with Chet Hitt. Chet, you have one of the [00:29:30] coolest names in the world, even for somebody in the death business. Chet Hitt, boom, boom, boom. That’s all I keep thinking about when I actually hear your name. It’s awesome. That’s kind of what you’ve done in life. You’ve woken up every day and you said, “I’m going to punch and fight my way through this. I’m going to build some businesses. I’m going to start them, and I’m going to go after them.” You said you have almost 150 employees. One of the things we talk about David Versus Goliath is courage. It’s the actual stone that I believe that the shepherd boy, David, took out there and slayed [00:30:00] that Goliath with, is the stone called Courage.
It takes a lot of courage to start one business, two businesses, or whatever the case may be. If you look back on the beginning when you were 26 years old, and you found out about this need about someone being buried in the high desert for example, and there wasn’t some place to put that individual, what was it in you that woke up that following morning and said, “I’m going to do this”, because I think people [00:30:30] don’t know what that intangible is.
Chet Hitt: When you start a new business you’re generally broke. So, there’s two reasons to want to do it. One, you want to serve and take care of people. The next thing is, you want to try something. You got to have it in your gut to want to do it, and out-think it, and you got to live and breathe it. Hey, there were times that… I’m 57 years old. I’ve done cholesterol, blood pressure, pills everything because I wanted it so bad. You’re up all [00:31:00] night long. How many people that are an entrepreneur had a little pad next to their bed because they woke up at 2:00 in the morning and wrote the notes down, and keep on going? So, you’re going to want that push and that drive, but I think that’s the biggest difference where I’ve come from is when… There was two needs.
One, make a living, and also take care of your family at the time. So, when I started knocking on doors, people laughed at me. But on a Saturday I’d hit 100 doors and get enough appointments to get me through the week. [00:31:30] I had to work my way backwards to say, “Okay, as an entrepreneur or a sales person, or someone like that, when you’re on commission,” because I didn’t have the money to be on salary, so if didn’t sell a space I didn’t get commission. That was the whole thing. So, I backed my way into the numbers that I had to make, and how many doors I had to hit to get this many appointments, and then what my closing ratio become, and then I started closing more and got better and fine-tuned in my machine, I built a team. [00:32:00] As I built a team, it grew from there.
Adam DeGraide: Awesome.
Chet Hitt: It was all about trying to pay your Edison bill, pay your mortgage and put food on the table.
Adam DeGraide: I think you said it great, and I think for the listeners and the watchers, there’s two reasons why somebody starts their first business: inspiration or desperation, or a little bit of both. There’s no doubt about it. I remember actually when I started my first business, I was just tired of working for somebody else. So, I don’t know if that was desperation. [00:32:30] It was more than inspiration. I think this is important, Chet, and we’ll close on this, you started that out of desperation. You had no money. But that’s led to success over the years, which has given you the ability to start other businesses with money, but that still take courage because the alternative is you keep the money, you’re investing it in the market, or you’re putting over here, but to say “No, I’m going to double down. I’m going to do this again,” that’s a little bit unique.
So, when you first start your first business, [00:33:00] you’re either broke, or you’re inspired, or a blend of the two. Then once you’re successful and you started a business, it’s typically because either A, you want to extend that success, or you want to expand that success. Give us a little win knowing now. It just fell on you? Or is it something that you just can’t help yourself but do?
Chet Hitt: I can’t help it. I’m an over-thinker. I think too much and I look at opportunities, and I think how can you make lemonade out of lemons. So, I’m constantly looking that way. I think for me, the difference [00:33:30] is trying to inspire the uninspired, and try to get them to buy in to my dream and let’s go to the next level. I think to a certain degree over the years the people that I’ve gotten to work with have inspired me just as much as I may have inspired them. Not every idea is going to be perfect. You’re going to fail. I’ve had failures. I have not won anything.
You would think being in the flower business would be great if you’re in the funeral business. [00:34:00] I failed at that business because I couldn’t deal with pennies. In the flower business, there’s not enough margin to take your team out to lunch and buy pizza twice a week if you wanted because there’s no margin in it. So, we got to the point it was like why keep pushing down that? What’d I learn? I learned how to manage it differently. Every failure that I’ve ever had, I’ve learned from it and it’s made me better at what we do.
I think that’s the biggest thing, is keep [00:34:30] an optimistic attitude and saying, “Hey, how do I go to the next level with the right attitude, and to win?” But you got to want to win. You got to wake up every day and say, “I want to win today. How am I going to win? How are we going to get there?”
Adam DeGraide: It has been awesome spending time with you. Who would have thought death, flowers, restaurants, distilleries, all would go together. I did, because I knew Chet Hitt. This has been another amazing episode of David Versus [00:35:00] Goliath. You don’t want to miss next week. It’s going to be fantastic. I’m Adam DeGraide, your host. Once again, thank you for tuning in on David Versus Goliath. Have an awesome day.