Meet Pete Hajjar, owner of Prime Business Advisors. Pete has had an incredible career building 4 successful businesses and selling them, all for a nice profit. Today, Pete is a Business Advisor. Everything he teaches comes from his own experience in
starting, growing, and selling his businesses with combined revenues of over $90,000,000.
Pete developed an entrepreneurial spirit at the age of 12, which started when he wanted to buy himself a bike. He noticed that there was a need in the lawn care marketplace, seeing that none of the lawn care companies pulled weeds for their customers.
A young Pete began offering this service to neighbors, and soon saw great success. Charging $5 an hour (more than double the minimum wage at that time), then hiring his friends at $2.50 an hour, for a 50% profit. He was successful and bought his 10-speed bike after only 3 months.
Pete always knew he wanted to work for himself. His journey, however, was not easy. He struggled throughout school, and later learned it was because of his Dyslexia and ADD. Despite all of this, Pete has had an incredible run with multiple successful businesses and now spends his time helping business owners that desire a true “Lifestyle Business” become a reality.
Can You Describe Your Company and the Value You Bring to Your Customers?
Prime Business Advisors offers a number of different services. One particular service is called “Marketing That Makes Millions”. We’ve perfected a system based on three fundamental areas where business owners can fill their “lead funnel” with quality leads month after month.
We have a vast range of programs that cover everything from how to engage employees for maximum results, low cost marketing, and fantastic customer experience training.
In addition, our company offers one on one consulting and group coaching. When clients are looking to sell their company or get more profitable, my team and I go onsite to take a deep dive into their Five Pillars of Business. These pillars include their Administration, Finance, Operations, Sales, and Marketing. We look at these factors to see where they currently stand, understand where they want to go, and provide a roadmap to get there.
For companies and associations, Prime Business Advisors also offers group seminars.
What’s Your Background? Did You Go to College for Business?
I did not achieve a formal college degree. My entire K through 12 school life was a tremendous struggle and a truly painful period in my life. Imagine being told you’re not trying hard enough, not applying yourself or worse, stupid! I wanted to do well but my dyslexia and ADD stifled my efforts. I barely graduated high school and struggled to maintain a D average. I tried taking college classes on four separate occasions. Each try resulted in failure, which was a dark time in my life. Although my academic scores did not show for it, I felt that I was intelligent. Once I was shown how to do something, I could easily catch onto things. I learned that I was more of a visual learner. That being said, I always seemed to grasp business concepts with ease. God blessed me in the area of business for sure.
When Did You Find Out About Your Learning Disability? How Did You Cope?
I did not discover that I had a learning disability until I was in my mid – thirties. This occurred when my wife and I took one of our kids to be tested for dyslexia. That same day, my wife and I participated in parents testing. We too learned that we both are dyslexic. Who knew! As far as coping? It was easy. We now had answers, which provided relief and an explanation for our past learning struggles.
When Did You First Get Involved with Business?
I started my first business at age 12 by offering a weed pulling service to my neighbors. At the time, lawn care services did not offer weed pulling to their customers. I would show up at a neighbor’s home once a week and charge $5. This occurred back in 1975, when the minimum wage was $2.10 per hour. I learned that I could weed someone’s yard in 30 minutes and get paid $5. I was earning over 2 times the minimum wage. I soon developed a list of customers by going door to door and asking for their business. Just me, my bike, a backpack, some trash bags, and a couple of small hand tools. After a while, I figured out how to scale this service by going to other neighborhoods and performing the same service. I hired my friends to help at $2.50 per hour, .40 cents more than what they would get working anywhere else. That means, I was making a 50% margin on my hourly rate. That was the catalyst that started the desire to own a business and work for myself.
Have You Always Worked for Yourself? What Was Your First Legitimate Business?
I’ve mostly worked for myself over the past 33 years, though I did have a 5 – year stint working for others. I truly knew that it wasn’t for me. (Big smile here.) My first incorporated business, Sunshine Carpet Cleaning, began in October of 1986, when my wife and I were newly married. After having a few “pops” at our wedding, I promised my wife that I would buy her a house in two years. After our honeymoon, the gravity of that commitment sunk in. How could I afford to buy a house while only earning $15,000 a year as a machinery salesman? It was barely enough to survive on my own.
And then inspiration hit me. We hired a company to clean the carpet in our small condominium. The workers finished in 45 minutes and charged us $80. They did a fantastic job, but $80 dollars. I instantly said to myself, “I can do this”. Fast forward to one month later, when I purchased a professional grade carpet cleaning system.
In five years, we grossed a little over $300,000 in revenue, and that was doing so as a part time business. We performed our work at night and on the weekends, cleaning carpets Monday through Thursday night after our day jobs. Friday night was a party night, and then Saturday we cleaned carpets again.
In two years, we had enough money for that down payment plus we were able to put $10,000 in the bank. Three years after that? We had our house paid for.
How Did You Learn About Growing and Running Businesses?
By listening to others that are successful, mentorship, and of course, mistakes. I learned early on in life that it was easier for me to ask for help, than to be stuck and frustrated. After learning this, I started seeking out mentors and asking questions to any successful person that would listen. I focused on what became a lifelong passion of mine, to learn. It helped me develop what I now call the Five Pillars of Business (Admin, Finance, Operations, Sales, and Marketing). I simply paid attention to what the best business owners were doing around me. I asked them questions, received answers, and emulated them. I was very fortunate that Sharon, my mother-in-law, whom I call Mom, did our bookkeeping for our first business. She taught me several life-changing lessons that serve me well to this day.
What is the Most Valuable Lesson You Have Learned?
How to get off the Revenue Rollercoaster by adding consistency to my marketing efforts. In our first business, we were constantly strapped for cash. I was on a horrible rollercoaster of fear, panic, and frustration. It seemed that one month we were doing well and the next month we weren’t.
I shared my frustration with Mom over dinner one night. She asked, “How are you marketing your business?” I said, well, I’m doing, X, Y, and Z. She then asks, “…Are you promoting your business every day?” And that’s when it hit me. I was only promoting once or twice a week. She suggested to do something every day to promote and market the business, and I did exactly that. Our business not only grew, but our revenue became consistent as well. I’m not saying that the rollercoaster went completely away, but I can say that it changed from a ride from hell to a kiddie ride. That simple lesson continues to serve me well and to those that we teach.
Bottom line? You and your team have to be promoting your business every single day. Be relentless with this one principle and you will end up amazing yourself.
What Would You Say Was Your Most Successful Business?
Success can be measured in so many ways. Monetarily, the most successful business was the custom engineered quality control systems that we provided to major automobile companies around the world. I look at success as to how it impacts the lives of our teammates.
My philosophy from day one has always been that you do not hire employees, you hire teammates. Having said that, I believe my most successful business was a water restoration company that a partner and I owned. From 2009 to 2016, we only had 1 employee out of 46 voluntarily leave the company. Our company culture produced outstanding employee engagement that was second to none. It truly was a gift working with so many wonderful and talented people.
What Was Your #1 Challenge? How Did You Overcome It?
Hmmm, there were a lot of challenges. I would say that my biggest, without a doubt, was staying consistent with my marketing and promoting efforts. Keeping that lead funnel filled daily is crucial to growth and survival. That was difficult for me to do, especially with ADD. Some people call it the “shiny object syndrome”. Ha!
Here’s how I keep it in check. I set a personal goal to spend 20 minutes each day reaching out to my warm market. For instance, when we worked for a member of a real estate group, we would also focus our attention on other members of the group by leveraging our relationship to promote our business. In the commercial business space, after we performed work for a particular company, I would tell similar companies that we worked for a peer in their industry. By promoting my company daily, I have very few ups and downs because our funnel stays full of leads that turn into sales, which turns into cash flow.
I also work in micro-bursts of 25 minutes followed by 3 – 5 minutes of getting up, stretching or walking around, then right back at it for another round of 25! This works well for me, and I am the most productive when using this 25 – minute system.
What Three Things Would You Attribute Your Success To?
Perseverance to never, ever give up. Surrounding myself with smart, talented people in areas where I am not as strong. And forming a mentorship circle.
Early on in my first business, a successful business mentor suggested that I put together an informal “board of directors”, consisting of 5 people that I admired and trusted. People that I could really learn from. That sage advice is, without question, the game changer in my business and personal life. I use that method to this day. It allows me to bounce business ideas, challenges, and other questions off a group of people that will be brutally honest with me.
What Were Some of the Biggest Hardships?
Too many to name. I’m a business owner after all. (A big smile here.) Without a doubt, not having enough leads. This always results in cash flow issues which causes fear, panic, and frustration. One of those hardships resulted in having our personal utilities shut off. Unfortunately, we had our utilities at home shut off several times. I had no one to blame but myself. I own it. I also learned from it and never repeated the same mistake.
Many times, a gut-wrenching decision had to be made. Do I feed my family, pay our teammates and suppliers, or pay the utility company? Needless to say, I chose to not pay a utility, hoping I could stretch it out until the following week. Those were hard times, hard lessons, and still sucks thinking about it.
The cure, of course, is through achieving consistency by promoting your business every day without exception.
Who in Your Life has Inspired You the Most?
There are so many. First is Kim, my fantastic and beautiful wife. Her unwavering support is, without question, the reason behind our success both in business and in our family. My mom, Katy, for teaching me to be honest and fair with people. My dad, Teddy, for the work ethic he showed by example and his unwavering encouragement. My mother-in-law Sharon and father-in-law Jack, for their support and guidance that they provided all these years. Last and certainly not least, George Davis and Karl Lundquist. George taught me how to look at a customer’s needs and solve problems for them, while Karl showed me how to grow and operate an organization and to have fun doing so.
What Do You Like Most About Alpharetta?
There are so many things to love about Alpharetta. The beauty, dining options, entertainment, wonderful parks, and without question, the diversity of cultures. I’m proud to say that I am from Alpharetta. Proud, too, of what city leadership has done to make Alpharetta a prosperous, safe, and enjoyable community for its citizens, business owners, and visitors alike.
(If you are interested in learning more about Prime Business Advisors, click here!)