Brett Trembly | Creating Virtual Teams

Attorney Brett Trembly is passionate about working with business owners. 

As founder of franchise and business law firm Trembly Law, which was recently listed on the Inc. 5000 as one of America’s fastest growing private companies, and co-founder of virtual staffing firm Get Staffed Up, Brett is well-suited to helping entrepreneurs navigate both the practical and legal sides of running a business.

One of the major problems he sees is entrepreneurs trying to do it all themselves, from accounting to marketing, which limits their company’s growth. He advocates going “offshore” and bringing virtual staff on your team to fulfill certain roles so you can get things done at a lower cost.

  • How one decision doubled revenues at his law firm
  • Why a boom of the franchise business model is on the horizon
  • An increasingly popular way to cut your business’s expenses
  • The first step for anybody thinking about starting a business right now
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:

Transcript

Giuseppe Grammatico: Welcome to the Franchise Freedom Podcast. I’m your host, Giuseppe Grammatico, your franchise guide, and today we have a very special guest. Today we are speaking with Brett Trembly. Brett is the founder of the Trembley Law Firm, a franchise and business law firm in Miami. The firm has grown from one attorney in 2011 to 10 attorneys and 20 employees representing some of the largest businesses in the eastern US as well as many local small businesses.

The company made law firm 500 lists with over 400% growth, and this year, they qualified and expect to receive the Inc 5000 Award as well. Brett is also the founder of Get Staffed Up which is a virtual assistant staffing company that liberates lawyers with incredible offshore talent. Brett, I wanted to welcome you to the Franchise Freedom Podcast.

Brett Trembly: Giuseppe, thanks so much for having me. And just a quick note, the official list on the Inc 5000 came out two days ago and we were on the list. So very proud of that accomplishment.

Giuseppe: Very nice. Congratulations. That’s awesome news.

Brett: Yeah, thank you so much.

Giuseppe: Yeah, so I am very excited today. And as we were talking before, we had to delay the show due to that crazy storm that came through last week. But if you can fill in the audience, our audience is, we have a lot of employees that have been looking at entrepreneurship. And we have a lot of business owners that have looked at other businesses, I should say, as far as an exit strategy or to diversify their investments. So that’s kind of our audience. But if you could fill us in on a little bit about your background. How did you get started in the business and what does that journey look like?

Brett’s Entrepreneurial Journey

Brett: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I love working with business owners and entrepreneurs. It’s what we do at my law firm. Our mission is to protect the economy one business at a time. You know, sometimes people ask the question, what advice would you give to young entrepreneurs? But, you know, it’s not even young entrepreneurs anymore. Just new entrepreneurs. It’s really fun when you see somebody get out of the corporate world, whether they’re, you know, 35, 45 or 55 and decide to be an entrepreneur.

You know, it’s an interesting lifestyle. It can be a lot of fun, but there’s a lot to learn. There’s a lot of ups and downs. The school system is designed to create good employees, right? Learn how to get good grades, learn how to pass tests, learn how to pad your resume so you can go apply to work for somebody else. Even business school is geared towards sort of setting you up, you know, to land high-end corporate jobs.

There’s really not a lot of programs widely known that teach you how to be an entrepreneur. So a lot of people go into business and then they kind of stumble along. And I was one of those people. I started my own firm back in very late 2011. And because I had fancied myself an entrepreneur my whole life, you know, selling pencils and candy in the first grade without even asking my parents. You know, I was just kind of one of those kids and I always had different ways of making money and having businesses.

I thought, well, this will be easy. You know, I’ve done this my whole life and I know how to lead teams. And what I didn’t connect was being a business owner, you can’t be a technician and you have to run the business, not be a lawyer. And, you know, why not try to grow a team instead of do everything yourself? It’s like here I am a huge advocate of leadership but yet I was so afraid to take a risk and grow my own team. And so the first two years I really struggled, just frankly.

And if people, you know, who started a firm, if they never struggled, you know, good for them. If other people don’t admit they struggled because of, you know, ego or whatever, I’m not afraid to admit it because there’s a lot of entrepreneurs that one once the adrenaline wears off, it can really be daunting and confusing and where do you go next. And so, I finally started reading books and I hired some coaches, You know, it’s like, what is the education?

Well, hard knocks but that’s gonna take a long time. So why not get a coach and get mentors and get guides? You know, Michael Jordan never said I won a few championships. I don’t need a coach anymore. I’m good. You know, and so that changed my trajectory. I finally hired my first staff person in 2014 and I doubled revenues. You know, imagine that, because now I had more time to do the actual parts of the business that brought in the work and paid the bills. And so I followed that method. I just kept hiring and hiring and, you know, the law firm is 10 attorneys today, like you mentioned, just named on the Inc 5000.

Very proud of all that. But, you know, what I’m doing with Get Staffed Up, me and my co-founder is, we’re helping who I was back in 2011, 12 and 13, the people that are just, you don’t want to, there’s some people that try to do everything themselves, Giuseppe, and then there’s other people that know they can’t do everything themselves, but they’re so afraid like I was of hiring someone because of the fear of failure and the fear of not being able to pay that person or hire someone.

So when you discover that you can hire really amazing, competent, friendly, hardworking people that just happened to be born in a different country but now with technology, they can be your full-time team members for a fraction of the cost. It’s not so overwhelming to add to your payroll. So you can get an assistant full time to do everything for you for, I mean, let’s be honest, if we’re talking about lawyers here, you know, a measly 1850 a month through us through Get Staffed Up and you’re off and running and you keep repeating that system and suddenly you have a business that’s working for you and not the other way around.

Giuseppe: Right. Yeah, very well put. And I think a lot of first-time business owners, they’re just uncertain. They’re just looking at sometimes the savings because for many of them, it’s their first business. So they’re like, Well, why am I gonna hire someone and pay them when I could save it? But now you’re the owner and your profession is just say you’re an attorney, but you’re doing the accounting and you’re doing the customer service and the mailings and checking email. It’s just not a good use of your time.

And at the end of the day, yes, you do save some money on some expenses. I know I went through the same process 15 years ago. But it’s like Alright, well, what did, and what did that cost me in growth? And then I looked and said, wow, you know, that’s, I saved 10,000 to, you know, to lose 100,000 because now I’m not able to grow my business. I’m just maintaining it. So yes, I, and to your point, you don’t learn this in school.

Undergrad, graduate, you name it, and I’ve interviewed quite a few people on the show and that’s just, that’s the common theme. It’s, you know, it’s the, you learn it out there in the real world but there’s cost to that and it’s obviously, you fail, you get back up on your feet. So hiring that coach kind of bypasses a lot of that, a coach with some real experience. So definitely, you know, find a good coach that’s owned some businesses and that were successful.

But I think that’s some really, really good advice that I personally took. So definitely look at coaching and would love to chat or, I’m sure they can chat with you if people are kind of stuck in that spot. So I opened the, put an open invite to anyone that wants to discuss that in a little bit more detail. You covered a lot actually, you covered quite a bit in that intro and you answered a lot of my questions. And I know you got the couple of business. So, you know, it’s interesting to me, so Get Staffed Up, so talk to us a little bit more about that.

So, obviously having staff, COVID, there’s a lot of stuff going on. And real estate, although from what I’m hearing, you know, definitely some great opportunities. I mean, I’ve heard things of rents being offered at just a fraction of what they’ve been offered in the past. But people are hesitant with their businesses to bring on a full-time staff, both I guess, during the pandemic and then, you know, what’s to bring after. So, talk to us a little bit about the type of person that may come to you and, you know, that’s looking for staffing.

Alleviate Your Number One Headache

Brett: Well, okay, so what’s every employer’s number one headache? Employees. I mean, you know, you’re not going to get around that fact, right? Because you’re dealing with human beings so you’ve got people show up late or, you know, their kid’s sick and all these human issues that you can’t, you know, you can’t just get frustrated and say, I’m gonna find the perfect people and never have issues because we all do. We’re all humans and so what you have at your entry-level administrative positions is high turnover because these are your lowest-paid positions.

If you’re honest with yourself, people are not put on this earth to serve you and make your life great and be the perfect employee for you. While they’re gonna want to make $10 an hour as a receptionist entire lives, they have a right to go out and look for better opportunities for themselves and their families. So those positions are, you know, people always just complain and complain about, you know, their receptionists and their staff.

And, you know, and then yeah, millennials this and that. It’s like, Look, maybe what you’ve designed as a business owner is not an ideal situation to foster good working relationships. And, again, that goes back to nobody teaches business owners how to be good employers and managers and create the type of business that people want to work for. So there’s just so many, you know, leadership and team development issues that we could talk through, but you’re really not going to get around the fact that your administrative level positions are designed for high turnover.

So if you take that and you take all the people issues and you kind of say, what’s a better way to do it? It doesn’t matter, Giuseppe, if you’re in an office or not, part-time, full time virtual, adding virtual staff members to your team is a smart, phenomenal way to do it. You know, like my law firm, for example, we’re on two floors now. And, you know, pre-COVID everything was great, but we’ve been, we don’t use 7000 square feet at our offices right now. So we’re basically wasting about $18,000 in rent every month because we’re 100% remote.

And that’s us, right? I didn’t know what was gonna happen. You know, it’s not like I’m prescient and, you know, I saw this coming. And so I look back and I say, what if at my own law firm I had been a little more serious about doing the digital or virtual team building and why not have remote team members so you can take on less space and have less turnover and let’s be honest, pay them less. So I had a marketing coordinator who I really still love to this day.

She was great. I wish she was still a team member, but I couldn’t justify the money that we were paying her. It was $60,000 a year. And with marketing, you know, you throw things at a wall and you see what sticks. And I could never trace back to that position. So it was a constant is it working. And I’m paying this person and you give them a one-week project and it basically cost you $1,000 of their time that week. Not to mention that stateside employees, whatever the salary is that you’re paying them, it costs you 1.3.

You have to add 30% when you, the overhead and the practice withholding and the insurances and the parking and just, you know, all the good stuff. So, and I think 30% is a conservative estimate from what I read. But anyhow, so we learned about offshore staff and I hired one myself. And I went ahead and I made the switch, you know, we’re not advocating fire bunch of people and hire a bunch of virtual employees from another country.

But adding that overhead to small business is tough. And so what a lot of small business owners do is they don’t hire and they remain miserable. And that’s not fun for everybody or good for the economy. So what I do now is I have three people in my office through Get Staffed Up and cost savings is tremendous. They’re making a very good living for where they live in the world. It’s called economic arbitrage. And, you know, it’s just factual. Is what it is in terms of, you know, economies of scale and different economies.

And the $60,000 employee is now a $20,000 employee. So what does that do for me? I’m not as stressed, I’m not as worried about tackling projects. I have somebody to delegate to all day long when marketing things come my way and ideas happen. There’s nothing worse than having a bunch of good ideas and nobody to give them to. So then you’re like, you know, I’ll do it myself, which we all know is not true. You’re too busy. And so we took this concept, me and my business partner who is a lawyer and said, How can we help other people do this?

And we created Get Staffed Up back in January of 2018. We spent about six months working really hard on the back end systems and processes and procedures because this was a side hustle for us. And we basically didn’t start even trying to market this thing or make it make sales until the summer of 2018, like late July, So we’re only two years in and it has grown so much and so fast that my business partner is now full time. He sold his law firm and now he’s full time in this business.

And it is growing like gangbusters because people have that aha moment. Like, wait a minute, I can hire a receptionist or I can hire an intake coordinator. I can hire a marketing coordinator. I can hire a client happiness director, a personal assistant, an executive assistant or a legal assistant for, you know, again, a third of what I would pay someone here. I’m not going to have all the overhead because you pay Get Staffed Up a monthly flat fee and we take care of all the rest.

And they’re going to be my full-time employee so there’s no split loyalty or paying for hours here and there. It’s a no brainer. And I hate to sound like, you know, we have the greatest idea since sliced bread but at the same time, you know, we kind of knew what we were getting into is good. And as we keep going, we’re amazed like, why didn’t this exist earlier? Where was it when I needed it back in 2013? And I think our growth is proof.

Giuseppe: That’s great. Yeah. I mean, it’s been around. It’s just, you know, finding the right talent, right? I mean, there’s still interviewing so that’s all being done on your end, and finding the right people. So that definitely takes work. And to your point, yes, employees, you know, good employees help you run that business. I mean, it’s, without good employees, you’re in trouble.

And that’s an issue I think a lot of entrepreneurs have with you find the employee then the employee leaves then you’re interviewing to replace so there’s a lot of moving parts. So Brett, what advice would you give to someone that’s looking to make the transition from entrepreneurship to, I’m sorry, from employment to entrepreneurship, someone that’s, you know, right now we have a lot of people furloughed, have always thought about owning a business, what advice would you give to those people?

Don’t Wait for Reality to Change Your Decision

Brett: Just make the leap. And I don’t mean, you know, walk into the office today and say goodbye, but make the plan. So the decision comes first, and then whether it’s a month or three months, make the decision and start taking actions consistent with that decision. I heard a good quote recently, which was, you can’t wait for reality to change your decision. Your decision changes reality. So once you make the decision, then things are different for you. But if you wait around for a quote-unquote good day, I mean, you know, I was talking to my father about this the other day.

He, early in his I think like mid-20s, he bought a jewelry store for my grandfather who had had the jewelry store a long time, ran it himself for I don’t know, 10 or so years, and then he sold it and he went into teaching. He was just tired of it. He grew up in the family business. And, you know, it turned out it wasn’t for him. So, you know, he’s a teacher, and, or he was, and every year, you know, are they going to get their 3% raise or their 2% raise?

And what is that for a teacher? $1,000, you know, spread out over a year? $2,000? That’s, you know, $100 a paycheck, sometimes even less than that. You’re never going to just like, save up enough money, you know, to make it happen. It just doesn’t work that way unless you own your own business and you can control your financial destiny. So you just got to go for it. Really, I mean, life’s short. That’s the way I look at it. I try to grow with a sense of urgency.

Giuseppe: Absolutely. No, I couldn’t agree more. Last question, what’s new, exciting, I know, you know, the business is at the start in 2018. But what’s new and exciting? What do you, what kind of, what do you see in the very near future for your company?

A Surge in Remote Business

Brett: So for the law firm, as, you know, as you mentioned, we do franchise law, There’s a lot of unique franchise opportunities coming up that you probably are more aware of, than I am, Giuseppe. But it’s an interesting world right now because I think the, people kind of considered purchasing of businesses or buying into franchises to slow down, but I think certain businesses that you can run remotely, that’s going to pick up.

And so I think it’s going to be an interesting sort of mergers and acquisitions world and you’re going to see a lot of people getting into entrepreneurship through the franchise model. And I think that what we’re doing at Get Staffed Up with the full-time virtual employees from other countries is we’re just the tip of the iceberg. You know, the sort of big boy players, you know, the big companies have had this model for a long time. And I did want to mention people usually think of like, well, there’s going to be an accent and there’s some building in the Philippines and they squeeze people in like sardines.

All of our people are from this hemisphere. They’re in Mexico, Central and South America. And they all work from home and they only work for you full time. It’s just a different model. And I think people are going to start to realize when you can grow your firm and then eventually provide a lot more jobs here in the US by really staffing up and getting a lot more bandwidth that you can actually afford that doesn’t crush you in terms of your overhead.

Giuseppe: Right. I like that. So anyone listening in, you know, you have two companies, our audience is, we have a lot of franchisees as well that are looking to expand, always looking for suggestions as far as, you know, who do I contact for franchise, you know, FDD Franchise Disclosure Document. Reviews and expansion, setting up private equity groups, things like that. Who should contact you in both companies and what’s the best way to contact you?

Delegate Your Way to Freedom

Brett: Absolutely. So if you’re looking to buy into a franchise or to franchise your business, we’d love to chat with you. That’s tremblylaw.com spelled just like to see here TREMBLYlaw.com. And for Get Staffed Up, you know, if, look, if you don’t have an assistant, you are an assistant, and that’s just a fact, right? If you don’t have a receptionist, you are a receptionist. You don’t have a secretary, you are a secretary.

So we love to help, you know, educate you on how you can really just make your life better by having someone to delegate to. We call it delegate your way to freedom. And people listening to this podcast can go to getstaffedup.com/vip, If they pop in the name of this podcast, Giuseppe, or your name, then we have a $250 discount on our startup fee. It’s no charge to set up a call and talk with us but when you’re ready to pull the trigger, we will go ahead and extend that offer to anyone that heard about us through this podcast or through you.

Giuseppe: Awesome, I appreciate that. And we will include all of that in the show notes, the discount code, the website and everything. So, Brett, I wanted to thank you again for being on the show. Learned a lot, gained a lot of information. Makes me think about my business as well. But thanks again for being on the show and hope to talk to you soon.

Brett: I loved it. Thanks so much for having me, Giuseppe. Appreciate it.