20 Questions

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20 Questions

20 Questions with John Akhoian

Owner of Rooter Hero

Originally published
Originally published: 3/2/2024

Publisher Terry Tanker sat down with John Akhoian, owner of Rooter Hero, with ten locations and 500 employees, to discuss learning the trade as a teenager, managing a team and learning from audiobooks, as well as mentors.

1. If you could have an unlimited supply of anything, what would it be? 

It would be mentors, teachers, and experiences. 

2. What do you think you would've grown out of, but haven’t?

Well, one of the things that I still enjoy doing once in a while is grabbing some tools and fixing plumbing or anything around the house. I thought I grew out of it after I got out of the field, but I still enjoy doing it whenever I have time or whenever I need to fix something around the house. 

3. How long were you in the field? 

I was in the field for approximately 15 years. 

4. What three words would best describe you? 

Hungry, humble, and grateful. 

5. What are the three things you've got to do every day? 

The three things I have to do every day, first of all, is look at my goals, I review them and focus on prepping to accomplish whatever I set my vision for. The next one is sharing my vision with my team. And then the last one is just being a great example to those I serve, my team members. 

6. How big is your company? 

We have about 500 employees and 10 locations, and we're 99% residential and 1% light commercial. 

7. What would people be surprised to know about you? 

That I love to learn and I'm not afraid of making mistakes. 

8. What pushed you into plumbing at such a young age? 

Plumbing was a plan B for me, but my dad passed away, and my motivation was I didn't want to move back into a one-bedroom apartment. I grew up sharing a couch with my brother as a teenager. I loved having my own bedroom, and I wanted to be able to sustain that. I dropped out of high school and got a job working with a family friend as a plumber to make extra money to help my mom out with the household bills. 

9. What aspects of running your business do you enjoy the most? 

Just being able to come in and work with my team and be a resource to them and give them the tools they need to be able do their job and do it really well. I love being very resourceful and being somebody who actually encourages and helps rather than holds back. 

10. Can you describe your business philosophy? 

Yes. Our company has clients, and we're here to serve those clients and give them a five-star experience. Internally, we serve each other. My clients are the internal team members, so I look at my team members, and I have to give them a five-star experience. 

11. What's the best business advice you've ever received? 

It's by Zig Ziglar. It's a quote I heard a long time ago, and he said that if you help enough people achieve their goals, you'll achieve yours. So be focused outward, help people achieve what they want to achieve, and if you help enough people get what they want, then you will eventually get what you want.

12. Who were your business mentors early on when you started? 

I love listening to audiobooks, and back then, when I was in my van, I had a tape player, like a cassette player, and I would listen to a lot of Jim Rohn, Zig Ziglar, just a lot of the people that are out there just giving positive information about how to become successful. 

13. What other things did you do to become successful?

I bought into a franchise system, and some business leaders there in the early stages were great mentors to me. And then that's when I started networking with other franchisees, and I just loved learning from those people who knew how to run a business. I would fly out, visit them, and take a lot of notes and apply what I learned. I remember one of them was the largest franchisee at the time, I visited him at least four times, and he said, “I know you're going to do better than I am.” I asked how do you know that? He said, “I've never seen anybody wanting to come back over and over again to learn the same thing.” And I said, “Yeah, but every time I come out, I learn something new.”

14. Are you still part of a franchise?

No, I sold my franchises, and I got out in 2017. I started my own brand after that, and that’s what I’m running right now. 

15. What are your core organizational values? 

Faith, integrity, respect, service, and teamwork. 

16. How do you effectively communicate with your management team? 

One thing I do every day is send the entire company an action quote, and it's a positive message with a daily action connected to it to do something that's related to the quote. Another thing I do is make myself available at any time to both internal and external customers. And finally I meet my management team on a daily basis. We have huddles, and we do them through Zoom.

17. Do you have team-building activities?

We have one tomorrow where everybody will get together for the entire day. Usually, the day before that meeting, we all have dinner together. We typically go out, break bread, interact, and then, yearly, we take vacations together. We go to Cabo, we go places where we basically all get to meet each other's spouses and spend a few days in Mexico together. And then annually also, we have our holiday party where everybody flies in and we give out awards and spend a lot of time just reflecting on the entire year. 

18. Can you describe your company in 20 words or less? 

We're Rooter Hero, plumbing and air, and we're here to save the day. So, when people call us, we respond immediately because they often call us for emergencies. We're the ambulance company of plumbing.

19. What's the most important quality you have to have as a leader? 

Never ask your team members to do something you're not willing to do yourself, and lead by example. 

20. What's the most recent the “Buck Stops Here” moment that you've had? 

There was an organizational change, and someone new reported directly to me. And I found that the person loved to tell White Lies. I mean, I figured that out pretty early because people who lie don't remember what they said. I just have a very low tolerance for liars.

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