Learn how a high school football coach found success in the floor care industry.
Jim Curtice, Vice President of Specialty Services with Interfinish, isn’t your typical floor care expert. He started with the company 8 years ago as the Operations Manager for their commercial flooring maintenance division, but he didn’t come with any industry experience. Instead, Jim has coached high school football for over 30 years, and before working at Interfinish, he owned a dog grooming business with his now ex-wife. That business was sold after their divorce, and that’s when he got his start in floor care. He explains, “I coached high school football with one of the owners of the company, and he kept trying to get me to come to work for him. After selling my business, I was looking for something new so I told him, ‘Let’s do it! I’m ready to go.’”
Keeping His Eye on the Ball
Although he didn’t have a floor care background, Jim’s coaching experience was a perfect fit for the challenge of building a winning maintenance team at Interfinish. He admits he didn’t fully understand what he was taking on at first. “During my interview, I was asked, ‘What is it you want to do here?’” He laughs, “I replied, ‘I don’t even know what it is you do.’” Once hired, Jim began learning floor care basics by accompanying his technicians on jobs and asking them lots of questions. He did the same thing with his vendors.
“Some may say I’m an expert in carpet cleaning, but it comes from asking questions, listening to what others have to say, and then turning that into what I do best – coaching my employees on how to do things right.”
As the Ops Manager for the maintenance division, Jim quickly increased the department profit margin nearly 30%, and has sustained that percentage throughout his 8 years with the company. He’s also grown the number of players on his team from 2 techs to 10. Now as VP of Specialty Services, Jim oversees multiple departments that he created to meet his customers’ additional needs, including painting, small construction/renovation, and housekeeping.
Jim is also a salesperson who genuinely enjoys developing relationships with his customers by talking with and listening to them. He describes his sales approach. “Whenever someone at Interfinish picks up a new job, I go out, introduce myself, and try to sell them maintenance. But, I’ll also go anywhere and try to build up a new relationship.” The strategy has been very successful for Jim. He notes, “I’ve sold a lot just by going out, speaking with customers, and figuring out what they need. While we’re there cleaning carpet, I’ll ask ‘What else can I do for you while I’m here?’ It really doesn’t matter what their need is.” By going above and beyond, Jim provides a level of value that is unmatched by Interfinish’s competitors. He points out that his customers usually have a never-ending to do list. “I’ll do whatever I can to take a few things off their plate and help get them done.”
Becoming a trusted solution provider is key, but Jim points out, “I call my customers friends and family. They laugh, but they know I mean it. When a family member needs you, you’re there for them all the time. With my customers, I’m the same way.” Whether he’s inspecting jobs or troubleshooting issues, Jim estimates he spends 70% of his time in the field visiting customers. They appreciate his commitment and support and are his biggest champions. Jim notes that at most facilities everyone, from the executives down, know him by name. He explains,
“When you build trust, word gets out.”
Pushing it Across the Goal Line
Great coaches are motivators, and Jim is no exception. He acknowledges, “I like to win at everything I do, but win or lose, I want to be the best that I can be.” That passion is evident in how he coaches on the football field and in the field on a job. Jim inspires his team to strive for their highest goals, and he encourages them to always do try their hardest. His philosophy is to coach them as best he can so that they can succeed in all that they do. When asked what he looks for in job candidates when hiring, Jim jokes, “A warm body.” He continues, “I don’t look for anything specific. Experience? No, I don’t mind if they don’t have experience. We can teach them all that. As long as they have a means to get to work everyday, and can pass the background and drug screens, I give everyone a chance.” His expectations are clear.
“I can only help them get the job. It’s their responsibility to keep it.”
As a certified instructor, Jim is confident in his abilities to train his staff, but he relies on technicians to break in new hires by teaching proper procedures on the job. He rotates the newcomers between different technicians to broaden their floor care experience, and he tells them, “You know best how you work. Learn what you can about the process and make it your own.” Focused on constant learning and improving, Jim relies on vendors like XL North for continuing education for his team and himself. “I wouldn’t be as good as I am if it wasn’t for people like those at XL North. They help me to excel in what I do.”
Educating clients and colleagues is also important to Jim. He regularly schedules demos for customers and peers to better their understanding of the services Interfinish provides. He concludes,
“Floor care is more than machines, chemistry, budgets, and relationships. It’s how they work together. That’s the magic!”
Learn more about Interfinish today!
Interfinish was founded in 1990 by Charlie Hogan to provide superior flooring services to the Baltimore market. Over the years, thanks to our loyal customers, we have expanded our reach to include the State of Ohio as well as the entire Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern States. As we have expanded our reach we have also expanded our services. Today, we specialize in “interior services” that include flooring, painting, mill work, window treatments and specialty furniture. We pride ourselves on helping our customers find solutions to problems. Some companies are deterred by the “impossible”, we embrace it.