Dan Deist is a prolific entrepreneur and a damn good business owner. After graduating from the University of Maryland in business management (he is also a business coach and mentor for the university’s graduate business program), Dan worked as an executive for Fiserv Securities, a Fortune 500 company. For over a decade, Dan worked long hours, traveling all over the United States as vice president and director of operations for Fiserv Securities. However, when they asked him to relocate to Philadelphia, he decided it was time to hang up his suits for an opportunity to own his own business.
He was sitting in a dentist’s office, flipping through an entrepreneur magazine, when he came across an article on upcoming industries for 2003. Home inspections were on that list, and since he put himself through college building decks and finishing basements for Worthy Construction, he figured he could learn. He decided to attend an inspection school in Manassas, Virginia.
Dan opened Top To Bottom Services in September 2003, a residential and commercial inspection company with a complete suite of complementary inspection services, like radon testing, mold sampling, lead testing, water quality, and septic inspection. However, about a year into his new endeavor, Dan was struggling to find enough business. He learned that REALTORS® already had their “guy,” and it was difficult to gain trust.
A close friend and REALTOR®, David Nichols, suggested he start installing real estate signposts for REALTORS® because there wasn’t real loyalty in the sign business, and he would have access to tons of agents. The idea was that once a REALTOR® learned of Dan and tried him out for signs, then they would like him and trust him to complete an inspection. The plan worked perfectly. Dan and one of his older brothers, Doug, worked to create SignTracker Technologies.
SignTracker Technologies is a full-service real estate signpost and REALTOR® panel/rider inventory management company. They store REALTOR® panel/rider inventory and install and remove real estate posts. REALTORS® use their proprietary software to build custom installation requests, order removals, and manage their inventory. SignTrackers, in turn, physically installs the posts as-built online, eliminating errors and increasing efficiency. They make over two thousand stops a month and have 26 other companies sprinkled around the United States that use their propriety software to manage and run their sign businesses. They are also working with companies to move into Canada in 2018.
Dan has now built his inspection business to ten full-time inspectors and a full support staff. He’s also built the sign business to nine full-time installers and several sub-contractors. Three years ago, the owner of the Green Home Solutions franchise approached Dan and wanted him to accept a position as an area rep for the state of Maryland. After declining, he happily accepted the challenge to open the first franchise in the DMV, and thus Green Home Solutions of Maryland was born.
Green Home Solutions of Maryland provides a safe, fast, effective, and affordable mold remediation and odor-treatment services. They use a proprietary enzyme product that is applied using a fine mist (or fogger) and kills mold within seconds, often without having to remove or replace uncompromised substrate (drywall, cabinets, and trim), like in the more out-of-date and familiar remediation method of removal and disposal, which saves time and money.
Dan jumped at the opportunity to provide his REALTOR® customers with a low-cost and extremely effective mold-remediation solution. Over the years, he learned of overpriced mold-remediation solutions that required extensive demolition and rebuild. He hired Jenn Sherwood to run the business, who moved down from Connecticut to take the helm. They have since created strategic partnerships with property managers, commercial and residential REALTORS®, and general contractors to provide a low-cost mold-remediation solution.
“I’ve been blessed throughout my career,” says Dan. “I’ve had tremendous success in three businesses, and I’m thankful for great mentors, excellent coaches, supportive peers, and exceptional employees.” As of February of this year, Dan has accepted a coaching opportunity to help others in the home-inspection industry build multimillion-dollar inspection firms.
Dan governs his business by three basic rules: always tell the truth, do what you say you will, and don’t do drugs. “I like to keep it simple,” says Dan. “It’s all about the people. Get great, trustworthy people with high empathy, teach them how to do their jobs well, and you will find success.”
To maintain their successes, they’ve integrated unique selling points into their companies. For example, they fund home warranties for all their clients, and provide a 200% guarantee — if a client isn’t satisfied and they hire another company that finds something significant that was missed, Dan will not only refund their fee but also pay 100% of the other company’s charge. One of the most important things Dan’s company offers is a $1 million referral insurance to protect agents against a client suing for referring them. They also provide free lifetime consultations, free subscriptions to leading industry service providers, and a year’s guarantee of radon testing and other related services.
When Dan isn’t running one of his three businesses, he decompresses by serving at Church of the Redeemer in Gaithersburg. He loves hanging out with close friends, enjoying a glass of red wine, and watching the big games on TV. He has been married to his wife, Mariken, since 1993. They have two children, Harrison and Chase. Harrison will be attending college this coming semester. Chase is a student at Watkins Mill High School and plans to become an interior designer. As a family, they love traveling, shopping for antiques, and watching movies together as well as having their kids’ friends over because they are the “cool” parents.
Dan says he wants to be remembered as a great father, a loving and supportive husband, and a wonderful brother and for all the good deeds he’s done throughout his life to help others. His business ethic is guided by knowing how hard REALTORS® work and that they need partners who understand their role in the transaction. “We know our role clearly, work hard for our clients, and appreciate the opportunity to serve.”
You can check out Dan’s businesses at www.TTBServices.com; www.RealEstateSignTracker.com; and www.GreenHomeSolutions.com. All three companies are located at 7820E Airpark Road, Gaithersburg, Maryland, 20879.