By Ethen Kim Lieser
Joshua Waxman is surely getting a lot of attention these days — but for all the wrong reasons. Although this particular piece isn’t meant to be negative, Dmitry and Roofing Insights want Waxman’s name fully in the spotlight, so that all of you hardworking contractors and roofers out there can be aware of him. Waxman, of Claim Nerds LLC, has been known to scam many business owners for tens of thousands of dollars all across the country. He has also been known to allegedly engage in prostitution and abuse illegal substances. Here are 10 important lessons to take away from this.
Lesson No. 1: Don’t trust every affiliate program out there
Many people first saw Waxman and his company on a certain affiliate page, so at first glance it seemed the company was legit. However, in blindly trusting any affiliate program, you can easily get burned — such as in this particular case. Dmitry says even if Roofing Insights goes out of its way to recommend you a vendor, it’s still your job to do your due diligence and directly see for yourself if it is a good match. In the end, you’ll surely protect yourself from many headaches.
Lesson No. 2: Do your own research and ask for references
As we have witnessed with Waxman’s shady operation, running a lead-generation business can easily turn into a Ponzi scheme, in which the collection of money never stops because previous orders need to be funded continuously. After fully vetting the person and company, ask for the necessary references. Then call up your references and really check up on their strengths and weaknesses. Just keep in mind that a good business owner will never be offended if you ask him or her for references. Moreover, there should be red flags popping up anytime someone tells you about their personal problems. As we have seen with Waxman, he was constantly complaining about how expensive it was to live in California, and obviously this has nothing to do with providing great service or products.
Lesson No. 3: If you don’t understand the business model, don’t do it
Dmitry has spoken with Waxman and many other contractors who used him, such as Justin Woodruff, the owner of Ready Roofing. And from all of the information gathered, no one could understand the business model. When this happens, you must stay away. For a time, Waxman operated like a telemarketing service, selling leads by cold-calling individuals. Then it transformed into a canvassing company that made people fork over thousands of dollars. Then it was selling leads for $50, $60, $70 — it all became very confusing. So, if you find yourself not fully understanding a business, take a step back and walk away.
Lesson No. 4: Your business isn’t what you think it is, it’s what Google thinks it is
If your business is stuck with a one-star rating, people just won’t take the risk to do business with you. That was the case with Claim Nerds. There wasn’t a single positive review or recommendation in sight. Roofing Insights was able to get a hold of a guy who did business with Waxman, and what he said was that out of the five leads he was given, four of them were bogus. He wasn’t totally unhappy because that one lead turned out to be a $40K job, but still he would never recommend Waxman and his company to anyone. For Dmitry, he wouldn’t even give Claim Nerds one star, more like a zero or negative star, if that were possible. For you as a business owner, try to maintain a rating of mid-4s or higher. Even the best of us gets complaints but focus on keeping your rating strong.
Lesson No. 5: When someone leaves you a bad review, don’t start a war with them
Even the best businesses out there will occasionally receive bad reviews. So, according to Dmitry, always try to respond in a reasonable and professional manner. In fact, you could find ways to improve your business if you have open ears and take each criticism to heart. Never start a war by commenting negatively, as that will only end up being terrible PR for your business. Take a quick look at Waxman’s past comments, and you will see that he is only hurting himself and his business. It’s all negative 24/7. You need to stop the name-calling and personal attacks. Dmitry says the best thing you can do is just to be polite and say something like, “Thank you for your feedback and we’re working hard on this matter.” As a business owner, you should expect negative feedback, even though you might think it’s not your fault. This is what successful companies deal with, and if you can keep a level head, you will only become better because of it.
Lesson No. 6: It takes 20 years to build a reputation, and 5 minutes to destroy it
Legendary investor Warren Buffett once famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” It’s pretty clear that Waxman did not heed this particular advice. He had a hard time managing his anger and then his business, or perhaps Ponzi scheme, started to unravel as news about his shady business practices started to come out. The nail in the coffin was the Facebook Live video that received so much negativity from the entire roofing/contractor community. In the video, he showed to the world the person who he really was, and after that, no one in his or her right mind wanted to do business with him. There was no turning back from this moment, and the chance to recover and gain back trust evaporated just like that.
Lesson No. 7: Never lie online
Dmitry didn’t set out to bash Waxman, but it seemed like he had no choice because someone who he respected was ultimately hurt. Waxman ended up working for Woodruff for only two days before he was fired. Woodruff, though, had to endure vicious comments by Waxman, from that he was addicted to porn to cheating on his wife. Dmitry tried to get to the facts, and he quickly found out that they were lies. In his investigation, Dmitry saw actual videos from a concerned homeowner of Waxman using the company vehicle while allegedly seeing a prostitute at 3 o’clock in the morning. The video evidence is there and it is hard to turn away from that. Waxman denies that this ever took place, but his continuous lies have totally eroded what’s left of his reputation. In the end, lies will always come back tenfold to bite you, and all you’ll have is regret.
Lesson No. 8: Never bring politics into your social media posts
Yes, America is a fractured country right now, but Dmitry says never bring politics into your social media posts. If you go on social media platforms and say that America has failed because health insurance is so darn expensive, Dmitry will take exception because he feels offended and it downplays the great contributions of all immigrants in the country. Dmitry is so confident in his business acumen that if you drop him off in California with $100 and a cell phone, he knows that he will make it. He will eventually open up a successful new business. Waxman, however, couldn’t keep his mouth shut when it came to politics, and some of his comments took a lot of heat. Not many people who cut you down on social media will suddenly want to work with you. Dmitry says put your focus on working hard and leave the divisive political talk to others.
Lesson No. 9: Don’t bring religion or faith into your social media posts
Dmitry is seeing these types of posts quite often these days, but you would be better off staying away from these. If you dip your toes in religion, you’ll surely never get everyone to agree with you. You’re only inciting people to seek information about others’ religious affiliations and then they will make rash and unfair judgments against them. Any arguments related to religion will likely just become shouting matches. Dmitry says try to keep your focus on intelligent conversations in which two people can talk to each other in a civilized manner. In today’s world, remember that always being professional will go a long way in achieving lasting tangible success.
Lesson No. 10: Sometimes it’s better to work for someone else than to run your own business
Yes, you read that right — running a business is indeed not for everyone. Take Waxman, for example. He definitely has a personality that would make him a good sales rep, no question about it. But his shortcomings are in creating great products and providing amazing service. Waxman should focus on his strengths, and if he does that, Dmitry thinks that he can eventually become a success story, even in an expensive state like California. Waxman needs to understand that he doesn’t have to scam people to attain personal success and wealth. If that’s his mindset, maybe it is better for him to work for someone else and then he can solely focus on his sales strategies. Dmitry doesn’t like to hold grudges, and he wholeheartedly believes that Waxman deserves another chance. Whether he gets that second chance remains to be seen, but Dmitry will be there to root him on.
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