Hands-Off CEO Podcast

HOCEO Episode 101 - Jeff Ennis

How to Double Profits With a Fraction of the Clients With Jeff Ennis – E101

What do you do when your business hits a ceiling and struggles to scale? In this episode of Hands-Off CEO, Jeff Ennis tells me how he transformed his company’s operations, revamped his mindset, and added more value to his clients. From expanding their services, hiring the right team, standardizing their processes, to automating their systems, Jeff shares how he has doubled profits and reduced the number of jobs in his business from 250 to 25, all while working towards serving only 10% of their current clients. Jeff also reveals what he learned from taking part in the Hands-Off CEO program and how it has helped him become a growth partner that adds millions of dollars in profit to his client companies.


Jeff Ennis is the CEO of a specialized construction surveying company based in Canada. He has over 25 years of experience in civil engineering and land surveying, and he has managed to turn his company around in just one year, doubling its workforce and winning a million-dollar project.


You’ll hear Jeff and me discuss these key ideas:

  • Jeff’s company provides heavy civil sector surveying services that are a hybrid between civil engineering and land surveying. The unique nature of these services makes it difficult to scale the business. [01:40]
  • Jeff’s company has added value by offering other services such as drone surveying. “That’s just come from us thinking bigger and showing up differently,” Jeff tells me. [03:07]
  • “We charge a higher dollar value and we usually get the work because we’re more economical than somebody else,” Jeff remarks, “but we’re way more profitable because of how productive we are and how efficient we are on site. So that’s what it’s all about. We’re providing really good value.” They also try to stay away from hourly work and focus on providing more value for their clients. [07:05]
  • Your client’s success ultimately makes you more successful. This is why Jeff focuses on nurturing a long-term relationship with his clients by helping them to be more efficient and profitable. “We’re making them more efficient and profitable. …That’s another big mindset: nurture your clients. Don’t just look at the one transaction, look at them as being lifetime clients. In our case, we can do that, which is great because as they scale, we’re going to help them get successful. They’re going to get more successful and they’re going to keep making us more successful. So, it’s a whole loop.” [07:21]
  • The CEO’s job is to create the vision for the company and manage the team while delegating other tasks to others. [10:46]
  • Hiring Lisa, a skilled operations manager, helped standardize the sales process and elevated the company’s communication systems. Lisa helped with capacity issues and created systems and standard operating procedures. She also helped Jeff’s wife to see herself as the CFO of the company, and they are working on creating SOPs to delegate her tasks. “You get that person in here to bring order to that chaos, and that changes everything,” Jeff tells me. [12:05]
  • The Kolbe score was used to find an operations manager that complemented Jeff’s strengths and weaknesses. In addition, their project management system allows the company to hire staff from anywhere in Canada and operate from anywhere. [18:47]
  • Jeff’s company has expanded from being a surveying company to being a growth partner that adds millions of dollars of profit to its client companies by providing a turnkey solution for automating construction sites and a construction survey technician program. They have also partnered with a distributor of equipment and developed an apprenticeship program that can rapidly train surveyors. They’re moving through the Hands-Off CEO exits, the last exit being finding additional profit streams. [26:30]
  • The company is looking to reduce the number of projects it takes on per year while focusing on more significant and more meaningful projects. Jeff reduced the number of jobs in his business from 250 to 25, with the goal of working with only 10% of the clients they currently have. This has already led to a doubling of profits and made scaling easier. By simplifying their business model and focusing on high lifetime client value, they have fewer moving parts and less liability. [33:26]
  • Jeff’s biggest mindset shift was realizing that he couldn’t do everything himself and that there were many things he could delegate or automate. [36:52]
  • Being around like-minded people, coaches, and mentors can help reset your mindset and pick you up when things go wrong. [38:13]



“We’re showing up in these meetings differently, going after the big long-term projects with the big clients and not being afraid to do that. So, we did that successfully. We beat out every other company in our area to get this work with one of the biggest clients from one of the biggest developers. So that’s very exciting. That’s just come from us thinking bigger and showing up differently.” – Jeff Ennis



Jeff Ennis on LinkedIn

Okanagan Survey & Design

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