Appleseed Business, Inc.

You Ask The Question...

Al Provides The Answer!

Tim Flynn

Tim Flynn, Owner | Winters Home Services | Cambridge, MA

“Life before Planning Power! was like knowing you need to go to the gym and lose weight or work out, these are the things you KNOW your supposed to do, but don’t. The answers are all the same,“not enough hours in the day” or “I am too busy working to focus on that.” We are all guilty for more reasons than can be listed.”

Subscribe To Our Ezine!

Enter your information to subscribe to our ezine!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Steve Lowry

Steve Lowry, Owner | Lowry Services | Harleysville, PA

“Why do we still pay Al Levi for ongoing consulting three years after we first started working together? Because I know how easy it would be to fall back into our old bad habits.”

The Latest Article

To Spoke Shop or Not To Spoke Shop

Sorry for the hijack of Shakespeare’s line. But, it fits because what I’m often asked.

For those contractors who are looking to grow their company either beyond their existing service area or to better serve their already expansive service area, opening up a spoke shop in addition to the main office is something to consider.

When I work with clients, I share that my family business had as many as one main shop [what we called a hub] and three remote locations [what we called a spoke]. Think wagon wheel.

Long Island is named appropriately. It’s 115 miles tip to tip and traveling east to west or even south shore to north shore in New York suburban traffic is a nightmare at times. The Long Island Expressway [aka L.I.E.] is affectionately known as the world’s longest parking lot.

Our need for a central location and spoke shops was not so much based on geography alone but rather our ability to serve our existing customer base and those we were hoping to entice to become our customers better and faster. We were and still are a 24/7/365 responsive shop. And to do that effectively and minimize windshield time which is also called drive time or just non-billable hours [think of being stuck in a taxi in traffic and the meter is spinning]. The loss of profits can be huge!

We decided the best way to avoid driving to the edges of our usual service area and then driving back toward our main service area to only turn around a little later in the day to return to the remote edges of our service area was to open up a spoke shop.

A spoke shop is not a carbon copy of the hub shop. At a spoke shop, you normally don’t have accounts receivable, accounts payable, training centers, full warehouse and possibly not even a customer service representative or dispatcher there. Most highly effective shops who employ this scenario of hub and spoke shops successfully did as we did and elect to maximize control and profitability by keeping those activities all centralized at the hub.

The spoke shop in our case was managed by one of our highly-trained Field Supervisors who typically had arrived as an Apprentice and worked themselves up the Organizational Chart. They embodied the culture we wanted at our spokes. This also was where they, the Field Supervisor, could go and grow. This allowed us to give them a place to grow and a reason to stay with the company. All this minimized what I call the brain drain. Brain drain is when an employee gets to a point where they feel stuck and there’s no more upward movement. At that point, they can easily succumb to the lure of leaving and starting their own business and find out just how hard that can be. Bad for them and bad for us. Or, they can kick in the other side of the brain drain which is they can keep coming to work by bringing their body but not their heart and soul.

The trick we found in running successful spoke shops beyond having them managed by one of our Field Supervisors is to link it to an acquisition so we could create a beachhead. A place that had a ringing phone from the start mixed in with our own calls from our customers ensured we could afford to make more Techs work there and they’d be on money-making calls vs. sitting in their truck driving [or, just sitting in traffic].

The other trick we found to having and maintaining successful spoke shops is to have ownership [in our case, me, my two brothers and my dad] rotate out to the spoke on a regular basis [never less than one visit per week] unannounced. It did a couple of positive things. It made the people out there not feel like they were outcast from the main organization and it let them know that we’re keeping them accountable to the same high standards we had in the main shop.

Many companies can’t open up a spoke shop across the street let alone the desired 30 minute to 1 hour drive time circle form the hub shop. That’s because they don’t have the ability to build managers from the ground up and they don’t have their systems down pat. Their companies can’t be stretched beyond the owners’ and managers’ ability to micromanage everything and everyone.

So, should you spoke shop or not spoke shop?

Don’t hate me….it depends.

It depends if you need to expand beyond your current service area because:

  1. There isn’t enough population
  2. There isn’t enough of the right type of customers
  3. There are greater opportunities beyond the hub location

Then, if it’s a good idea to open up a spoke anywhere between 30 minutes to 1 hour drive circle away, you’ll be well-served to have the following:

  1. Documented policies and procedures
  2. A manager ready to take this next step because they can repeat your culture away from the main shop
  3. A company acquired in the spoke location so you can come out of the gate with enough calls to warrant the investment to create a profitable spoke shop
  4. The ability to do remote call-taking, dispatching, accounts receivable and accounts payable work at the main shop. All of which is greatly enhanced with today’s technology.

There’s a ton of upside to having a hub and spoke shop network if you’re ready to get your resources lined up and commit the time, effort and money to make it work and work well.

Ready To Take Action? Click Here For Your Free 30-Minute Consultation with Al

Dave Judd of Master Plumbing-Heating-Cooling

June 27th, 2015|

Dave talks about his background in the contracting business and how he’s continuing to transform his business for the better by implementing Al’s systems for trucks, warehouse, training center, training room, manuals and more.

Checking In vs. Snooping

June 9th, 2015|

In a bunch of management articles and blogs I’ve read in the last few years, there is more and more discussion about the ever-growing amount of time being wasted in the office by personnel and […]

Garold Gipman of Gipman Millwork & Design

May 18th, 2015|

Garold talks about how his family's kitchen, bath and laundry cabinetry design, build and install business would encounter more reworks than they'd like.

Kevin Dyer of High Point Plumbing & Heating, Ltd.

May 11th, 2015|

Kevin talks about the chaos and lack of control before starting work with Al. Now things are running smoothly.

Changing the DIY Landscape

May 5th, 2015|

DIY means Do it Yourself.

Was a time in my life I liked the challenge of doing home repairs myself. I worked as a Tech and didn’t want to have to pay someone to do what […]

Jim Harper of Plumbing Systems Inc

April 27th, 2015|

Jim talks about how the work with Al has helped the whole company get more organized and be more effective in the work they do.


  • I can’t seem to find and keep good people.
  • There just aren’t enough hours in the day.
  • We are delivering an inconsistent level of service.
  • I feel like I’m answering the same questions over and over.
  • I spend more time as an employee than as a manager.
  • Call-backs keep me from moving on to new calls/sales.
  • We have no real system in place for training.
  • This business just isn’t fun for me anymore.


Contact Al

Phone: (480) 205-5164

Fax: 212-202-6275

(using a coversheet)

Click Here to Email Al

Traditional Mail:

Appleseed Business, Inc.

c/o Al Levi

10632 N Scottsdale Road


Scottsdale, AZ 85254