Scott Tarcy | The 4-Hour Workweek Mechanical Engineer
Who is Scott Tarcy?
Scott Tarcy is an engineer by trade and now an entrepreneur and business owner who runs CADdesignhelp.com, helping inventors and companies bring their ideas to real parts. He is also the host of the “Engineering Entrepreneur” podcast, about the engineering and technical side of entrepreneurship. His strategy is to interview engineers, designers, and inventors who have created businesses around their inventions and products.
In this episode, we discuss customer satisfaction and how to keep customers happy, as well as ideal work hours and team size. Scott also gives some excellent input on why a bigger company doesn’t necessarily mean more money or more freedom. He also talks about only working the hours you want and still having the lifestyle you desire.
You can contact Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org
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people, job, inventors, design, engineer, product, podcast, run, tropical mba, micromanage, hours, asked, invention, business, big, cad, question, work, book, wrote
Presenter, Scott Tarcy, Aaron Moncur, Rafael Testai
Hi, everyone, we’ve set up this being an engineer podcast as an industry knowledge repository, if you will, we hope it’ll be a tool where engineers can learn about and connect with other companies, technologies, people, resources and opportunities. So make some connections and enjoy the show. The people that I’ve seen that have been successful if they want something, they just do it and they figure it out.
Rafael Testai 00:37
Hello, everyone, welcome to their being an engineer podcast, we are co host Rafael Testai. Today we have a very special guest someone that I’ve been following for years now. And his name is Scott Tarcy. He is an engineer by trade and now an entrepreneur and business owner who runs CAD design help.com. All the links will be in the show notes. Helping inventors and companies bring their ideas to real parts. Host of the engineer, entrepreneur podcast, a podcast specifically about the engineering and technical side of entrepreneurship. His strategy is to interview engineers, designers, inventors, who have created businesses around their inventions and products, you can contact him at info at CAD design help.com. Scott, welcome to the show.
Scott Tarcy 01:25
Hey, thanks for having me on.
Rafael Testai 01:26
So happy to talk to you. And I’ve been following your your podcast and engineering entrepreneurship podcast. Why don’t you tell our audience a little bit more about your podcast and what they could expect to find if they head over there?
Scott Tarcy 01:40
Yeah, I’ve done 110 episodes or so that are so so far, I’ve interviewed people across all types of industries and areas, for example, inventors, designers, engineers, people at the patent office, patent Asians, patent attorneys, software engineers, just entrepreneurs of all different types. A guy from Italy that that has a sheet metal factory and wrote two books on like processing sheet metal. So it’s expanded a large array of topics.
Rafael Testai 02:17
I was always reading your, on your website, why you started the podcast. So I already know why don’t you tell the audience why you started this podcast?
Scott Tarcy 02:25
Yeah, I started that in 2016. Because I couldn’t find a show that for anybody that was doing what I was doing. And so I said, Okay, well, I’ll just go ahead and start it. And that was a good decision.
Rafael Testai 02:38
Absolutely. Okay. What’s something that they you see common trend from the entrepreneurs and business owners that you interviewed, something that they’re doing right, that you may want to share with the audience?
Scott Tarcy 02:53
I think that at least this is the way you want to go, that they’re very self starters. Right? Like, so the people that I’ve seen that have been successful, if they want something, they just do it, and they figure it out. And it’s very easy to overanalyze, it’s been too much time. You know, like, for example, some people like on sort of business, I had to get LLC, and you have to, yeah, I mean, you need to do those things, but you don’t have to do them right away. Like, it’s more important to start getting customers. And, and even like a business plan doesn’t, you don’t really need to sit down and write it out. You just need to have it in your head of like, okay, what is the service or product I’m going to, I’m going to sell? And you know, and how am I going to generate money and like it’s more important, I think, to get started doing that, and figure out all their stuff as you go, because a lot of people just spend way too much time in the planning phases and never never really get going. And I was guilty of that when I first started to I didn’t really take enough action to really get the business running. You know, for a couple of years, honestly.
Rafael Testai 03:52
And if I can I want to ask you, what are some podcasts that you subscribe to that are no your own, but that you enjoy yourself?
Scott Tarcy 03:59
Yeah. The Tropical MBA is a big one is that’s all about location independent entrepreneurship, which I pretty much am I mean, I can pretty much run my business from anywhere.
Rafael Testai 04:08
What is it called again? Nice and slow.
Scott Tarcy 04:10
What is the Tropical MBA podcast? Okay, Tropical MBA. I’m looking that up right now. Just like probably our audience is all linked in the description.
Rafael Testai 04:20
Interesting. Okay, Tropical MBA. What else?
Scott Tarcy 04:24
Tim Ferriss show? Definitely big fan of that. I mean, reading The Four Hour Workweek was a big part of the beginning for me.
Rafael Testai 04:32
Scott Tarcy 04:32
I think, probably those two for entrepreneurship.
Rafael Testai 04:38
What about the four hour workweek guy you started? What’s like, what are five things you remember from that book that stood out to you?
Scott Tarcy 04:46
Yeah, I mean, that’s I get that answer all the time because I really wanted to create a lifestyle business where I was in control and can work when and where I wanted. And so Tim Ferriss back in like 2007 wrote the book but before that, even before that, I guess he kind of just figured it out. He did. He created like some type of supplement company. And he got to the point where he, he outsourced and automated so much of it, that he literally like, he didn’t literally work four hours a week, but like, that was the catchy title. But he, you know, he would, he would work a lot, and then he would take like three months off, but he created the business with processes such that he could pretty much do what he wanted. And I really liked everything I read in there, and I’ve done a lot of my business too. I mean, I can really take a lot of time off, if I want to, in this thing will still run with, you know, I would say minimal effort, I can’t totally take off time, but I’ve got it to where I mean, I have a lot of other people and systems handling what I need to get done. So I took that was my main takeaway from that book was, you know, with the power of the internet and, and putting the right people in place. You don’t have to go and do it all yourself.
Rafael Testai 05:57
Nice. I’m very happy for you. Not a lot of entrepreneurs reach that stage. They’re all and they’re just solopreneurs, they end up doing everything themselves. And they’re busy all the time. And they unfortunately know nothing on anyone, but they can be there for the families because they’re always doing every small little task. So why don’t you tell us? What was one thing that you do in your business that really helped clear up your schedule and automate a lot of processes?
Scott Tarcy 06:22
Yeah, I mean, I hired contractors was the biggest thing because it is the thing a lot of people don’t do is they don’t, they want to be in control so much. And if that’s the way you want to be it, you know, that’s fine. But you have to accept that the reality is you’re going to work 6080 hours a week, if you have enough jobs coming in, because you’re a service business anyways, because how you’re going to get them done. And so I found out early on, because I was doing all the work myself that A, I was spending like a lot of time on it. Not that I hated it, because I liked doing design. But it wasn’t, I didn’t really want to work myself into another job already. I mean, I had a job before that. My point is I wanted to free up a lot of my hand do other things. But even more than that was it was really limited in how much I could make. Because if I if I’m doing all the jobs, there’s really only so much I can take on by bringing out contractors to get a lot of this work done. I could really scale as high as as much, you know, I’ve never put it this way, I’ve never been able to get so many jobs coming in that I couldn’t get, get them finished. You know what I mean? Like I could basically at this point, triple. If I could get that many jobs coming in, I could do that I could do triple the amount or more. And I would hire more people if I needed to. I mean, it would get to a point where it would get a little ridiculous trying to manage you know, like right now I made is three people. But if I had to manage like seven, eight, my get a lot control. But I’ve never had that problem. But you know, for what I want to do and income I want to make three people work on my team is is fine. I keep them fairly busy. And you know, it’s good for me there.
Rafael Testai 07:53
Okay, perfect. And when did you take the leap that you hired your first? Did you hire employers? We have freelancers, how do you work?
Scott Tarcy 08:01
Yeah, they’re pretty much just freelancers, but I mean, they, they, they, it’s not hard to get them, they’re happy to do the work because they’re good. And I can use them continuously. But they get work from other people too. Or they have or some of them have a full time job and Disney Side. I found them on. Probably like Upwork, or one of those sites may actually know the one guy found me directly. And I kind of liked that, because that showed that he was more ambitious, I would say, than me reaching out somebody and, you know, some people didn’t work out, it didn’t do a good job. I mean, it took it definitely took some trial and error to find the people that were reliable, that I could work with. I mean, and also, you know, I like to turn it on and stuff fast to try to keep work, you know, to keep customers happy and, and, you know, get recurring work. So some of the people I’ve I’ve tried in the past were too slow. They they couldn’t get it done fast enough. And so you know, I moved on from them.
Rafael Testai 08:56
Tell me about the moment where you decide, Okay, it’s time to hire my first freelancer, I want to delegate this, what’s a book that helped you in that process or a resource because that’s a completely different skillset, from what you learning engineers. I didn’t read anything about that. I just, I just kind of use common sense. I mean, I was an employee for a long time. So I know what I hated. And what I hated was somebody micromanaging the crap out of me. So when I, when I brought people on, I said, Listen, like I don’t care when you do this, I don’t really care how you do it, minus a few certain things. And I wrote that in a document I wrote, here’s what I want. Like for example, I don’t want any unconstrained lines, I work in SolidWorks to this point. And I said I because I will have to go in and edit this. So at some point, there’s going to be some revisions and I don’t want to have to go to you if it’s going to take five minutes for me to just go in there and do it. So I want you to follow these steps okay. You know, use millimeters or inches depending on the project use ever all the lines need to be constrained. Like I had a certain I can’t remember all but there’s like a document that I wrote. And I said outside of this, I don’t care how you do it. Like I’m not gonna micromanage you, you know, but there are certain things I asked him, you know, that’s it like, and then you can just do what you want. And that’s kind of that’s how I’ve always wanted to be treated. I wasn’t always treated that way. When I was employee, a lot of times I wasn’t micromanaged, being Told Every Little Thing drove me nuts. And so I just kind of used the approach of like, how would I want on the other side of side of the table here? If I was, you know, the employee or the contractor, and the guy was giving me work? Like, how would I want it handled, and then it seemed to work pretty well. So, you know, I don’t think it’s too hard to manage people. I mean, you just gotta give them a, you know, here’s the expectations. You know, and I needed Dumbarton by then. And as long as they’re basically doing that, that works well, for everybody involved. I think that that’s, that speaks volumes. I can relate 100% The way that I work is the same way. I just asked my direct manager, just tell me what you need and what you needed by. And I’ll have it done by you. And yeah, I don’t I don’t really like the micromanagement aspect, either, like people peeking over your shoulder looking at what you’re doing in the computer. I mean, I’m going to get it done. But when you need it, and it’s going to be very well done. That’s, that’s all we need to know. And I work well that way. So but it also takes a certain personality type. Because unfortunately, with with some individuals, it’s almost like you got to touch base with them frequently, or otherwise, they’ll procrastinate all the way and they’ll won’t be able to meet the deadline. Do you agree on that?
Scott Tarcy 11:26
Yeah, I mean, you know, sometimes I try to I try to what I when I asked is that you give me an update every 24 hours, at least when you stop working and say, Where are you at? But like I said, I’ve, you know, narrow I’ve got three guys that pretty much do most of the work? And,you know, they know what to do? I don’t really have to bug him too much about it. I mean, sometimes they go on vacation or something. You know, I have a couple backup people that I’ll use but you know, that’s exactly right. You know, as long as we’re on the same page, there’s really not a lot issues there. It are I just curious, and if there’s too much information, because I’m the kind of person that I keep on digging in more details and details is your team all in the United States. No, just one person here. I mean, because of margins, obviously, it’d be too expensive that have, you know, everybody here, it wouldn’t be too expensive. But I mean, at the end of the day, I’m trying to, you know, have the best profit margin I can. So you know, I have a guy in Brazil, India, a woman from Bulgaria, and one guy, local, a local guy is important too, because a lot of times I gotta physically measure stuff and reverse engineer it. And it’s not practical for me to send something across the world. So it kind of depends on the nature of the project.
Rafael Testai 12:47
Absolutely. Makes sense. All right. Let’s see, do you have a family?
Scott Tarcy 12:54
I’m married, so just a wife, no, kids.
Rafael Testai 12:56
Congratulations. Okay. And yeah, I’m gonna get married in a month. So thank you so much. Yeah, she actually her name is now via and she actually just moved in two days ago, here in Phoenix, Arizona. So we’re very excited. And I like to ask other engineers, how, what’s their routine? Like? And, I mean, there’s a lot of married engineers out there that they may want to hear that what was your routine kind of like?
Scott Tarcy 13:24
Well, I begin to like fitness and go in the gym and playing sports. So you know, I might play golf sometimes, or go on my mountain bike. I like to work three to four hours a day, typically. So outside of that, I you know, I’ll I’ll read or just watch TV or, like I said, like a big big fitness guy. So I do a lot of mental upon doing that. Another side of the business to that I spend some time on that we hadn’t really talked about was like my invention side. So when I started the business and even now like the like the the revenue of the customer of doing design work for a fee, it goes up and down. And when I first started even have any machine any 3d printers, and then I bought one because people would always be like, Oh, you did the invention. You did the design, but I want now I want a prototype and I would outsource that. And I was like, Man, I can make a lot more if I just bring these in house and his machines aren’t that expensive. I mean, I have 3d printers ranging from $400 up to like 6000 So I’ve invested some money, but um, you know, I can do all this stuff from home. And so when I had these printers, I realized that if they’re not operating like there’s an opportunity cost here like I could be making something that someone would buy. So I’ve had come up with all these random things that I saw online. And that’s been a nice boost and it evens out the revenue to where like people might be buying this stuff on my Etsy store and stuff like that. Even if I don’t have any current like, design jobs. But that’s a that’s an important part of the business now for sure.
Rafael Testai 15:31
What’s so hard about getting a 3d printer to work just so that people that want to 3d print the home, they know what’s coming.
Scott Tarcy 15:37
Yeah, I mean, you know, most people, I’m going to assume they’re going to run an FDM printer like me, I do have one SLA machine, which is actually much easier to run. But when it breaks, it’s much harder to fix, because it’s complicated, but it’s just big FDM from it, fused deposition modeling, which is your traditional, take the wire plastic, pull it through the nozzle, heat it up, put it down? Well, when you first start, you don’t realize how precise and I’m talking with like unwell less than a millimeter accuracy that you have to be from this distance from the nozzle to the bed, like if it’s not dead on, it will either not stick to it, which will cause all kinds of problems later, or it will be too close. And it just like will jam up. And that’ll cause a whole bunch of problems to basically we had to disassemble the thing. And like clear it all out. I mean, it takes it’s just hours of extra work if you screw this up at the beginning. And it was so hard to get it right. Outside of that, you know, all kinds of stupid stuff happens like the machine just turns off in the middle, for no reason the power goes out. Something will break randomly. Like I mean, a screw falls out. I’ve seen everything like everything you can patch up software problems, like I proved the other day. Like I’m scrolling down to next file, and it just restarts. And it’s like, I hadn’t found out through just a Facebook group that I had to update the firmware because I don’t know what happened to the firmware, but it went bad. So like, just go on and on and on. It just it’s endless. But I mean, I would say it’s worth it because of how much additional I guess money I could make running them. And you know, the benefit of being able to like make prototypes versus having to always outsource everything.
Rafael Testai 17:15
Okay, so let’s go back a bit. So to my understanding, not only have and thank you for being so open with us that income from the jobs they do for engineering, but also to supplement that income because it’s hard to gauge how much people want this, like feast or famine, I guess sometimes, right? Like a lot more coming in. Okay, so we’re doing that. So then this stability comes from, you’re making money from the 3d prints, because the people that you did the designs for in CAD, they now want to have the tangible part in their hands to prototype so boom, you get to sell them that. But also, you’re saying that you get to sell your own products that you 3d print on Etsy is right.
Scott Tarcy 17:55
That’s right. And that’s honestly the easiest income pretty much because the design is done, right? It’s literally just when somebody orders it, I print it or sometimes because it’s of demand, I know that I will sell it. So I just pre print, you know, a certain quantity of different products. But a lot of times I just make it after they send it because it’s not if it’s not too big of a print, I don’t need the need to pre like pre produce it, which is another nice thing about printing versus molding is like I don’t have to go buy 10,000 At once did a minimum order quantities right? I just make it when it when it’s order. So yeah, I mean, that’s exactly right. That’s the other revenue stream. And I’m looking at other ways to have other revenue streams as well, because like, that’s another big part. If you study entrepreneurship, like the Tim, like Tim Ferriss book four hour workweek is you definitely want to have multiple sources of revenue. You don’t want to put you don’t want to rely entirely one thing because who knows what’s going to happen, right? You’d rather have backups in place in case something drops, you’ve got other options.
Rafael Testai 18:56
Absolutely understood. Let’s see. 3d printers. Well, I really want to have the link to Etsy store if that’s okay, I want to check out some of your products. Or if you want to send it to me via chat while we’re on the on the call, and I’m gonna also think about that see, you’re in the company. Okay, four hours a week. Now, four hours a day is your goal to do maybe one hour a day, if you keep scaling or you want to stay at three to four hours a day of work?
Scott Tarcy 19:29
Well, if I scale the business, I probably have to work more hours. Not not less. Um,so yeah, no, I really only want to um, let’s see here. I found my link here for you. I really want to scale if it’s if it’s gonna have like, minimal impact on my time, my time is my most valuable resource. I don’t want to be free to do what I want to do. I don’t want to have to be too bogged down. So I’m very careful. Like I don’t take on all opportunities Because I don’t want, I don’t want to be too bogged down. So if I can take, if I can take on something that’s going to, let’s say, double the income and only be an extra few hours a week, then that’s something I would do. But I’m not going to I wouldn’t take on an opportunity that would be say, you know, extra 20% For an extra 30 hours a week, that would not be worth it. Like there’s a trade off there.
Rafael Testai 20:26
Okay, understood? How do we find I got your link? We’ll talk about that. Next. How did you find your sweet spot? Did you accept a job? Well, then you realize this is taking too much of my time, maybe I want to scale back Is that what happened?
Scott Tarcy 20:41
Um, I do have a story of this one guy who wanted to some big kind of mining equipment, he wanted to sit with me at the computer for like 40 hours a week. And I said absolutely not. Because I don’t want to physically have to be doing this. I don’t want to work, I basically want to work myself until a job like that would just be like going back to being a salaried employee at that point, like, and on top of that, if I’m spending that much time with this guy, there’s no way I can do taking other jobs. So the minute he decides it’s not worth doing this, I’m left high and dry with nothing in the pipeline. income wise, and I have to go and you know what I mean, it’s gonna be weeks before I’ll find another job like another contract. So I said I would do at most 10 hours a week, and the rates going to be higher, since I had to sit there directly with you. He didn’t want that. So I turned down.
Rafael Testai 21:26
The point now understand is what do you mean by sit next to the guy?
Scott Tarcy 21:30
like literally, we would go to his office or coffee shop or wherever, wherever he wants to go? And he would sit next to me the computer and tell me what he wants done? Basically,
Rafael Testai 21:39
What can he just send it to you via email?
Scott Tarcy 21:41
I guess the complication of it, or I don’t know, he probably just wanted to micromanage me, I guess. But I just I just said I wasn’t willing to do that, for the reasons. I do think it was crazy. I mean, I’ve worked with people all over the world, I learned people in Germany, all kinds of stuff. I mean, it take, I will admit, if you’re not in person, and it’s complicated, it’s a little harder, but it’s not impossible to get it done. You know, it’s really not, um, sometimes I do wonder why people don’t give me all the information. Perfect example, I’m doing this job for Daimler Trucks right now, where they drill holes into the hood to mount some other equipment, right. And so they need, the guy was not very clear in the communication, I thought he wanted me to take the CAD file of the hood of the truck and put the holes in. And they had the coordinates, they had a very good drawing with all the coordinates, that’s what I did. Well, what they wanted was actually like a hand tool that imagine like a handle with the surface of the truck, and in a small area that you’d place over it. And then you simply and then that this temp, they call it a template, this tool essentially has for like four holes, where you’re going to drill through, you’re going to hold that in place, and use that to run the drill through that. And then through the the hood, right? Like this is like pre assembly to have those pre hole drills. Well, he had pictures of a similar tool, and never sent me that. So I thought all he meant was update the CAD file with him put these holes in it, what he really meant create this tool. But never like why wouldn’t you just send me the pictures of the tool that’s very similar to you want me to make like that would be like, if I was gonna hire someone to do that for me, I would 100% do that, like people just, it drives me nuts when people like, don’t understand that I can’t read their brain. And they sent me so little information, even when I desperately tried to drag it out of them. And then I eventually had to just start the job because they won’t give me anything more information. And then it ends up being a miscommunication, because I just don’t know why you wouldn’t think, tell me that. Like, when you communicate, do you? Do it only written? Or do you guys do zoom calls? No, I do calls I do phone calls, Zoom call, however they want to do it?
Rafael Testai 23:47
Yeah, communication is difficult. How do you think things might have been different if you would have met in person with the customer?
Scott Tarcy 23:53
Well, I have met in person with these guys, because they’re local and Charlotte. But he never asked me to come in. And he already had the CAD file. So you know, if he had sent me the picture, everything at the beginning, like here’s an existing tool, we want to make something some of this I would totally get it. It’s just weird to me that the guy never sent me that photo in the first place. Like why would you assume that I would know what you meant when I had never made one of these for you before.
Rafael Testai 24:21
Now now that you know this, how would you what advice would you give to your future self or your current self as to how to handle customer requests, how to do proper communication to get the correct requirements we deliver what they actually want?
Scott Tarcy 24:35
Yeah, I mean, usually ask more, but I was so confident I thought I knew what he wanted. Because it seems super obvious. So it’s just one of those situations where I guess Yeah, I don’t I don’t think from this one. I would really know most of the time. It’s not that clear or didn’t appear to be that clear to me. Where you know, I guess I I have a standard like list of questions. For New Inventors this was a little different because this was like an existing product they just wanted to create this like tool for so it’s kind of different than like a brand new invention from nothing. But I do have a standard list of questions is basically see I have memorized, it’s like, okay, first of all, what is this thing? Like? What is the point of it? Right? What is the purpose that is solving, okay? Because a lot of times people will just send me a picture, some sketch they made, and I have no idea what it’s for, they just assume that I would interpret their hand. They’re, they’re scribbling for, you know, whatever it is. So that’s the first question I asked, then I then I asked the sketch because I need something visual that I asked for some sense of size, you know, is it because a lot of times, they don’t put dimensions on it? So I’m like, okay, is this six inches long or 60 meters, I don’t know. And then asked for like materials, you know, certain material. Um, and then like, any, like, important features, right? So I just looking on my desk here, as I’m talking to you, and I see like a yeti cup. So if I was gonna have someone, if I was gonna hire someone design that, I would probably give a reference photo, because almost every product that people come up with, there’s something similar. So find the similar thing and say that I mean, that’s the that’s the best way to invent something, honestly, you’re gonna communicate it to a designer’s like, Hey, here’s an existing thing. But I think it’d be improved this way. Or the thing I want to create is, is brand new, but it looks like this. So at least I have a starting place to draw it. You know,
Rafael Testai 26:27
I got an idea. You probably already have done this. But what if you put that in your templates? Whenever an inventor contacts us that exactly, we just told me now?
Scott Tarcy 26:36
Oh, that’s part of it. I said a sketch or photo of something similar, you know, and then markup what what is different about like your product? I mean, that’s all in the template. And the person is asking,
Rafael Testai 26:49
you also asked him for dimensions.
Scott Tarcy 26:52
Yeah, I need I don’t you know, it’s funny, one guy actually gave me too many dimensions. He invented this pipe thing. He was what was his job he was laying ever heard this type of job. But there’s guys that lake, they call it laying conduit. So basically, when like a new building is being put in, especially like a sky like like a skyscraper tall building. They have like metal pipes, and they push the wire, so the whole electrical of the building through these pipes. And so he had an invention that had something to do with that. And he gave so many dimensions down to like, such a ridiculous decimal. I was like, nothing can be manufactured to this precision. And even if it could, it would cost you so much money. You don’t need this. So I had to explain to him a little bit like he went too far. But most people don’t give me enough. Like, they just they just give me a picture of something. But they don’t tell me any sizes. So you know, if they drew it the scale, really, I just need one dimension. And then I can scale the image and get the rest of them. But usually, I asked for at least the overall like if I had a cup, like what’s the overall what’s the diameter or the overall height, and then everything from there, I can kind of figure out wall thicknesses based on like industry standard. Other products, you know, the thickness of the lid, and how well how tight it fits, I can figure out from other products, because that really wouldn’t change, you know.
Rafael Testai 28:09
So my question would be, given that you had so many of these conversations, how many? Just the number, this is the prep to my question, how many of these conversations with a founder that has an idea to develop a product have you had in your lifetime? Okay, so you’re someone that that knows this conversation very well, you know, what people are gonna come with their concerns? What do you do with the person that’s overly concerned about you stealing their idea? What do you say?
Scott Tarcy 28:36
Yeah, I mean, I get a lot of those. I mean, I send the NDA immediately. Like, as soon as somebody contacts me, I said, here’s the NDA, because I’m not in the business of taking your thing. Like that would be the worst thing ever. My reputation, I have zero desire to steal your invention. I’ve got plenty of my own. I’ve got a list that I’ve written down that is, I’ll never finish, you know, creating these things. So I don’t feel don’t like worry about, but I sent him the NDA anyways. So like right off the bat, and some people don’t want to do that they want to do their own. That’s fine. I’ll sign their NDA. And you know, I’ve never had a problem really at all, with few people saying that I took their idea.
Rafael Testai 29:15
Understood. Well, I think this is a good time to take a break to tell our listener that being an engineer podcast is brought to you by pipeline design, an engineering pipeline partners with medical device and other device engineering teams who need turnkey equipments, test size choices, cycle test machines, custom test fiction, fixtures, automation, equipment, assembly jigs, inspection stations, and more. You can find us on the web at theme pipeline.us And this is where all of our value business, we need your help getting to 100 podcast reviews, so you’ll have a chance to win a $50 amazon gift card if you leave us a review on Apple podcast. Simply email the screenshot of your five star review and your little blurb to Polycom. cast a team pipeline.us. And the email will be in the show notes, we will announce the five lucky winners at the end of the first quarter in 2022. So we’re here with Scott tarsi of CAD design help.com. So what are some, whenever you have these conversations, the 1000 conversations that over 1000, like you said, with the inventors, let’s say, what is it like a booklet? It sounds like it would be the same conversation repeatedly. It’s like we have to train the the inventor about the basic things they need to understand before they can communicate with us. Do you manually do every time? Or do you give them maybe a PDF to read or video to watch before you continue?
Scott Tarcy 30:48
Well, I have the template questions, right. So I really try to get them to answer that first. And then I mean, I will call him right away. But basically, I need all that in writing anyways. So it’s all documented. I can’t remember every detail, like my talk somebody on the phone. So I just say like these five questions like we need to have that all written down. As a starting point, you know, I would say five 10% of people are really well organized and have like a very good design. I call it a design brief. It’s basically the same thing. As what I said, like what, you know, what are these five standard questions? They answer that in their design brief. And they answer it very well, to where they have all the details. It’s like, it makes my job super easy, like because I know exactly what they want to make. But like I said, that’s probably 10% of people got it. And those are usually the season inventors, the people that have done it before, they got a new idea, they needed a designer to make it. That was my favorite go to work for because, you know, they totally get the process. They understand what can and can’t be done. They understand like how things are made. So they understand how to communicate, those are the, the, you know, the preferred people to get, but I get a lot of new people and then I help them along and tell them you know what to do I give them I actually have some old design briefs that I’ll send to them. I say like, here’s a perfect way to communicate this to me, you can make something like this. It doesn’t have to be as pretty as what some of the other guys have done. But they did it in Photoshop, but like something visual is used to communicate what you want to the person making it.
Rafael Testai 32:18
Yeah, picture’s worth 1000 words, I get it? Well, obviously, you’ve had success giving we are you’ve had your sweet spot of freelancers that you delegate to. So obviously, that’s building on prior success and referrals. But for the times, like any other business, and maybe early in the beginning more than now, when you’ve had because if you have to read somebody’s mind, and you design something for them, this satisfaction is it seems like it’s something that’s it could very well happen. So when there’s dissatisfaction evolved, when you design something that the person actually didn’t want, or they communicate, there was a miscommunication. And we turn something into them. How do you deal with the customer dissatisfaction?
Scott Tarcy 33:02
Oh, yeah, I mean, it’s one to 2% of people every year, it’s inevitable. If you work long enough, it’s impossible make everyone happy. And personally, I feel like these are the people that are just just not reasonable people to work with. And I try to try to just filter them out. Like I’ve turned down jobs, when I could just tell from the way that they communicated. They’re really impolite. I just was like, this is not going to be worth it at the end of the day, and I’ll turn it down, but I’m not perfect at that. And, you know, I’m willing to go back and fix things. But you know, I can’t go be like refunding everybody if they want it. Because, I mean, I’m not only if I don’t spend much time doing that work, I’ve given up our teams for other jobs while doing their job. And so yeah, I mean, it’s just gonna happen sometimes. But most people are not like that. It’s just, you’re just gonna always run into one or like, for me personally, it’s like one or two a year, I do jobs for like, probably 200 people a year on average. And it’s always like one or two, or like that, and they’re just I personally, I mean, my opinion is that they’re just unreasonable. Like, they’re just not they’re not willing to, like, work with you at all. They’re they’re way too particular about it without giving you clear communication of what they wanted anyways, like, there’s basically nobody can make this person happy. You know, there was a job I just did where I personally thought the last engineer did a good job. I looked at what they gave him they gave, assuming they gave them the same information they gave me. I thought he did it more or less correctly, they said it wasn’t right. I thought, well, I could see how it could be different than what he made. So I’ll take it on because I think I can do it. And it was like the same thing with me. Like no matter what I did, for these people, they weren’t happy, like I changed it 10 times over. And they just, I don’t know, it was they couldn’t they could not communicate it in a way that I think anybody would understand. So you know, it didn’t didn’t end well there. That’s that’s not the norm. That’s not the norm. Most people you know, It’s a few revisions back and forth, we conclude on the same, you know, product at the end, and they’re happy and you know, everybody moves forward, they go to production. And I go on to the next thing. You know, but but I’m not gonna sugarcoat, I’m gonna tell you how it is and how it is, is anybody in this industry or any industry, you’re going to run into people that you just cannot make happy? I don’t care if it’s running a hotel or restaurant, or design business, it’s going to happen,
Rafael Testai 35:27
I understand. Yeah, but for the other 99 or 98% of your customers are walking away happy. And that’s what matters. I understand, right? Yeah,
Scott Tarcy 35:35
no one’s gonna have a five, perfect five star review unless you’re somehow finagling the system to avoid those people. Where point nine is 4.9, or 4.8, as good as anybody can
Rafael Testai 35:44
do. Exactly. Let’s look about 200 jobs. He said, What would you say is like the average length of a job
Scott Tarcy 35:51
in terms of like, from when I get it to when it’s completed?
Rafael Testai 35:56
Maybe I need to be more specific on that, like, how many billable engineering hours is the average job? Ah,
Scott Tarcy 36:03
I do a lot of small things. Just I guess, mostly, because the end of the day, an individual inventor just cannot afford a job, that’s going to be like 50 hours of work. Right. So I would say that most things I do are somewhere in the 10 hour range is pretty standard.
Rafael Testai 36:19
Now, and what’s the most frequent service that people come to you for? Um, because you do a whole bunch of things that’s on your website. Yeah,
Scott Tarcy 36:30
it’s let me look at my list this year, just to kind of see what I’ve done recently.
Rafael Testai 36:36
That knows his stats. This is a statistically driven answer.
Scott Tarcy 36:40
Oh, yeah, I mean, I’ve documented every single job I’ve done and thing I’ve sold since 2015. So it’s all written down. You ready down? I’m just curious. I put on Excel I have I thought about doing a CRM or something but it’s just like it’s gonna barely save me time over the system that I have. I mean, I spent 510 minutes a day you know with with my customer, my Excel CRM, if you will. Um, I did get QuickBooks this year because the the taxes side got too complicated keep doing that manually, but I used to do that manually too. But now the customer side I mean, I’m doing you know, let’s let’s see here in November I did 16 jobs. It’s not that hard to keep track of 16 So for example, in November I did this this product for like a bathroom. I obviously NDAs I can’t say too much but I did the bathroom product and 3d printed it. I did a wine decanter handle 3d printed that I did a job just doing a 3d of an electric rotor. Then I did a mid scale down electric engine in 3d and 3d printed that I did a job and sometimes just cats like this exercise equipment for a dog like a dog run on a treadmill. I just did cat that I do like I do like architectural type of work. Nothing that has to be stamped but like anything I can do any kind of floor plan anything it doesn’t have to be like officially stamped because I don’t have like a PE license I got to be a little careful there but as long as it’s something they can submit doesn’t have to have a PA stamp I can do that. So I did this coffee shop layout
Rafael Testai 38:19
tell us about that. What do you mean what kind of jobs need up license?
Scott Tarcy 38:23
Yeah, like if you’re going to go to like the city and you need stamp plans then they needs a P license so you could do it but you would have to have a P stamp it and it’s too complicated for me to to figure that out plus and do work for people all over the country and need to have a license in that state. But the woman who had this coffee shop she just literally needed an AutoCAD drawing of it to show like the health department something like they didn’t need a stamp so it really depends on the situation. So I can do those kinds of jobs. I just can’t do ones it says this was approved by a structural engineer and everything you know, I don’t do those kind of jobs.
Rafael Testai 38:59
So would you say most people come to you to actually do that design in CAD and what’s your Is that correct?
Scott Tarcy 39:06
Well, yeah, and and get it and get a prototype. And once a pen it’s like 50% of the time it’s the prototype as well.
Rafael Testai 39:14
Got it and see when you quote this is one of the most difficult things I will assume that quoting jobs do you the new bill as you go or do you quote in anticipation like full time one up upfront fee How do you do it?
Scott Tarcy 39:33
Yeah, I’ve gone back and forth on the best way to handle this um, it’s gonna be a lot of recurring work. I just I’ll just you know, Bill it by the hour, it’s just easier if it’s just a single invention, and it’s pretty well defined. I’m just gonna give it a fixed price because I don’t think it’s necessary to build it by the hour that in that sense, but I do make it clear in my quotes that I do one revision like one major revision, I guess we could say like a little A small tweak here and there, I don’t even count. But if it’s like, we go and make the thing, or I make it, and then you give me some update, that’s totally different than the original drawing, like, that’s kind of where I say, Okay, we’re gonna have to like the scope has changed, it’s been too big of a change. And most people we can come to an agreement on that’s, that’s what I’m saying. Because at the end of the day, the nature of nature of this is that there’s some back and forth. And we can only do so much of that before it’s, it’s it’s taking too much of my time, based on the original quote. So I guess that’s the best way to answer that question for you.
Rafael Testai 40:35
So I wonder if, by the way billing, it’s a very interesting topic of any business owners listening, because I’ve spoken with other business owners who run engineering companies, and your their response that you just had, that you go back and forth, and that that the breath that you took in the beginning is almost exactly what I’ve heard from other business owners when asking the same question. It’s a struggle known how to quote jobs. And that’s why I asked different people how they do it. So if you said the average job is 10 hours, so when they come to you say, Okay, it’s going to be seven hours for the design, we’re just throwing numbers here arbitrary. And then three hours for the major design review and 10 hours total, something like that. Yeah. And do you factor in communication? Because you got to the emails, you got to pray.
Scott Tarcy 41:23
But that’s usually not more than an hour to max. Okay. Usually, the first calls, like 1520 minutes, maybe have to do that a couple more times.
Rafael Testai 41:34
And when you Bill, like anyone wanting to freelance, like, do you send someone an invoice? Or how do you do that?
Scott Tarcy 41:41
Yeah, I usually take the payment up front, because I learned early on, if they don’t have any skin in the game, they’re not really serious about it. And if they want it, they’re worried about me, taking the money not doing the work, they can go read all the reviews I have, and be sure that’s not going to happen. I don’t do any work, typically, without some type of deposit. If and a lot of times, if it’s just a small job, I just say, Listen, this is a $300 job, I’m not splitting this up, it’s it’s too much processing time to do it. You just got to trust me on it. If they’re not willing to do that, then then I don’t take the job.
Rafael Testai 42:12
I can just hear the confidence. You know, boys, you’ve been through this road, you know, what’s ahead. This is always gonna go
Scott Tarcy 42:18
on. I don’t budge on that at all.
Rafael Testai 42:21
All right. Well, is there anything that I haven’t asked you that I should have asked you?
Scott Tarcy 42:27
Maybe I don’t know. I mean, it’s your audience, people that want to start like a service business or a product business?
Rafael Testai 42:34
I’ve I couldn’t tell you. I do know the statistics like what countries listen to the podcast and from the reviews. I do get messages on LinkedIn that seem to be CAD designers. I haven’t gotten a message from an inventor. By all means, there may be an inventor listening out there to the being engineer podcast. So the answer may be yes, but I don’t know.
Scott Tarcy 42:55
Yeah, I guess isn’t it from the inventor side? Because I actually do one thing that came to mind that you may not know I actually run an inventor’s group, I was just on the board, went to the meetings. It’s called that I NOC excuse me, I got a bit of cold. The i n o TC, I think it’s dot.com. But it stands for inventors network of the Carolinas. So we’ve run out of Charlotte, but it’s basically for anybody that can can make it to Charlotte, we’ve had people drive from two or three hours away, we’ve been running our meetings online because of COVID, we’re gonna try to get back to in person because I feel like there’s a lot of value to talking in person to people a lot more value. But then running that organization. So I’ve met with a lot of vendors done a lot of work for the inventors that go to those meetings. And when it comes to inventing, I think it’s just you need a great and I’ve read books about this like or any product development doesn’t have to be physical products, you got to make your MVP minimum viable product, and you just start testing it, don’t get wrapped up and making it perfect. Because then you’ll just never, never see if anybody even wants it to be to be in with like, you need to get it in front of people enough to even a sale sheet sometimes if it’s too expensive to make a prototype, but you really need to just get like the first revision out there and then and then pivot from there. Otherwise, you’ll just spend a lot of time and money upfront. And then ultimately, maybe maybe nobody wants it. There’s not enough market for it. It’s like a lot of people say it’s the saying fail fast. Right? So so get it out there you’re probably gonna fail or there’s gonna be some issue with it. Just do it quickly so that you can keep moving on iterating and get to your final you know, sellable products.
Rafael Testai 44:35
Well says how can people find you?
Scott Tarcy 44:38
Yeah, go to my website CAD design help com. my email is info at CAD design help calm? I do. I have social media channels all like a CAD design help. I haven’t updated as much as I’d like, but I try to do that more often. And you know, my podcasts 110 episodes or so, so far, approximately at the camera. Tom had the engineering entrepreneur. Check it out.
Rafael Testai 45:04
Alright, Scott, thanks we in the podcast.
Scott Tarcy 45:06
Yeah, enjoyed it.
Aaron Moncur 45:10
I’m Aaron Moncure, founder of pipeline design and engineering. If you liked what you heard today, please share the episode. To learn how your team can leverage our team’s expertise developing turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines and with product design, visit us at Team pipeline.us. Thanks for listening
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