Here’s an episode you won’t want to miss: We talk to Matt Durrette, Founder and CEO of Cozi Vacation Rentals, about their journey to success.
Nestled in the beautiful Texas Hill Country in Fredericksburg, Cozi is a premier 24/7 provider of property management and marketing services for its owners and a provider of unforgettable experiences for its guests. Originally founding the business out of Baltimore, MD, in 2014, Matt was able to grow his managed portfolio in this downtown market to 100 homes from 2014 to 2019 while working full-time for Northrop Grumman as a Global Business Development Representative and attending grad school at Saint Joseph’s University, in Philadelphia, where he obtained his MBA in Marketing and Data Analytics in 2018.
Matt was fortunate to meet his beautiful wife, Jenna, who is originally from Austin, Texas. In Summer 2019, Jenna easily convinced Matt to move back to be near her family. Upon moving, Matt left his full-time job at Northrop and pursued Cozi Vacation Rental full-time. In March 2020, COVID ultimately shut down Cozi’s Baltimore City Market, and from this point, Matt chose to solely focus Cozi's growth on the drive-to tourism markets of the Texas Hill Country just south of Austin. Since April 2020, Matt has organically grown and scaled the Cozi Vacation Rentals unit portfolio in Texas from 0 to 250 units within two years.
Tune in to our latest episode to find out how Cozi continues to thrive and learn a few secrets on how they do it as a team!
Highlights of the Episode:
02:25 - Guest Background: Matt Durrette, Founder and CEO of Cozi Vacation Rentals
04:02 – Hill Country vs. Big Urban Area
07:03 – High quality partners for high quality service
10:37 – Bringing the EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) to Cozi
14:20 – What the EOS does for company culture
24:30 – The impact of EOS on company meetings
33:14 – Predictive Index and Culture Index
40:10 – Keystone Retreat
45:58 – What’s next for Cozi?
This episode is brought to you byCasago,Guest Ranger, andGood Neighbor Tech.
VisitAlexAndAnniesList.comto view our top picks for the best suppliers in vacation rental technology and services.
Special thanks toRev & Researchfor being the presenting sponsor of Alex & Annie’s List.
Connect with Matt:
Connect with Alex and Annie:
Alex Husner|Annie Holcombe
If you enjoyed this episode ofALEX & ANNIE: The Real Women Of Vacation Rentals, make sure to visit our socials, leave us a like, a comment, or share our content with the crowd! Don’t forget to subscribe!
[00:00:00] Welcome to Alex and Annie, the Real Women of Vacation Rentals. I'm Alex. And I'm Annie. And we are here today with Matt Ette, who is the c e O of Cozy Vacation Reynolds. Matt, welcome to the show. Hey, thank you for having me. Good morning. We've been waiting to have you for quite a while and actually, uh, to go down memory lane here, when we were set up at the Executive summit last May, uh, in O Palm, you were one of the first interviews that we had or one of our first live interviews, I should say, uh, ever and at that conference.
And, um, that was just, that was a fun time to get to know you and chat with you. I think we ended up sitting there for, well, longer than we actually have recorded, but Right. Um, got to learn about you and, and about Texas Hill Country, where you're located and also some of your background. But before we dive in with some questions and, and, uh, warming you up to the audience, can you give us a little bit more background about who you are and your involvement in the space?
Yeah. Yeah. [00:01:00] Somebody you know again, uh, good morning and, and thank you for having me. And uh, name is Matt Tourette. So my wife and I, we founded Cozy Vacation Rentals. Um, uh, the co we've been in park manage since 2013, but found at Cozy in, in 2015. And, uh, originally started in property management, uh, on the East Coast, actually outta Baltimore, Maryland.
And, uh, you know, grew a successful vacation world company, you know, more, more on the urban side there, and a few markets down the east coast. And then we moved to Austin in, uh, in 2019 to be back with, back with family. And we had, uh, some homes in the Texas Hill country, which is now. One of the, one of a, a great Texas, um, uh, wine region and so in Fredericksburg, Texas.
And so we started getting homes there in 2017 and the early, like end of 2017 into 2018 and really saw how, uh, how amazing of a market it was and drive to tourism being the, uh, you're an hour from Austin, you're an hour from San Antonio, three hours from Dallas, [00:02:00] you know, three hours from Houston. And we really knew we wanted to grow.
You know, from our skillset from the East coast and really build something special here, close to family. And that's where we took cozy and made it a Texas brand. You know, over the last three year, three years here in Fredericksburg, Texas, uh, in the Texas Hill country. And in the last two years we've gone from, uh, about 10 properties up to about 270 here, uh, within the Texas Hill country.
Wow. That's incredible. Yeah. So what a, what a change though, like, I mean, I grew up in the DC area, so knowing Baltimore like that you, it couldn't be night and day difference like night between Baltimore and, I mean just the East Coast and Texas overall, but hill country versus big urban, urban area, like so how did you find, I mean that that's kind of a different customer, it's a different style of management.
What did you find maybe were the obstacles. Maybe not obstacles, maybe they were just like, the efficiencies were better or the customers were, be like, what was the differences that you noticed right away The, the differences, you know, really for us, what I [00:03:00] noticed was learning the drive to tourism model versus that urban model.
Yeah. And. The customer expectations in Texas were at such a top notch, higher, and the bar was higher. You know, a lot of our traffic in Baltimore was convention center guests. You know, they want in, they want out, they want, you know, efficiency. They want clean, and they want a nice home that they can stay in from a business perspective.
Right. And that was about 75% of our customers here in Texas. You know, they want, they want wine tours, they want private chefs, they want massages. Mm-hmm. They want. Really high end experience and you need to be able to deliver on that and to have the manpower of doing that. So the big challenges were were, for me, were learning how to properly staff, learning how to properly build out a culture.
And, and when we were on the East coast in Baltimore, we didn't really have to do that. We outsourced so many different things and we had some great local team members, but no offices, no really, you know, footprint, you know, in the cities that we were in. And so really becoming a part of the community, building out a brand, and really [00:04:00] delivering on the high expectations.
And it's a more, you know, high income. Earn a democrat, you know, demographic client who, you know, going from, you know, a thousand to 1500 week long stay to going to $1,015 a night. And really meeting those expectations so that, it was, it was a huge, huge change for me. I'm originally from a small town in Virginia though, and, uh, you know, not a, you know, not, not a city boy by any means.
And I really love being out in the country here, and it kind of feels a lot like home. Yeah. Mm-hmm. Um, and, uh, you know, we, we really enjoyed, enjoyed the growth. Yeah, for the record, we want all of those services when we come, so, oh, we can, we can massage, massage, chef, wine tours. We want all, all, all the above private wine tours.
Yeah. Um, so from a drive to perspective, are they mostly coming from where Austin and Dallas or, I mean all over the state. Yeah. All, all over the state and the main four big hubs of, you know, Dallas, Houston, Austin, San [00:05:00] Antonio. It's about 90% of our business every year, but we're, we're starting to see more and more folks coming from outta state.
Mm-hmm. And, and that's, you know, and that's, that's a beautiful thing so people can really share, you know, in this Texas wine region, which is really, it's been around since about mid, mid eighties, but it's really kind of taken off over the last 10 years. Yeah. Interesting. And so that's where we're really, you know, targeting and pulling our customer base base off.
Yeah. So for the experiences that you offer those, the in in suite massages and chefs and all those things, how did you go about setting that up? I mean, the, those things are outsourced, I'm sure, but do you have one vendor that you use or multiple vendors? How does that work? So I've always gone by the, you know, rule threes.
So we try to set up, you know, three high quality partners that really resonate with our brand as well and, you know, that are gonna provide a great service. So when we set all these relationships up over two years ago, actually going out and experiencing those ourselves, going on [00:06:00] those wine tours, ensuring that they're hitting, you know, really top-notch wineries and that it is a very high-end experience.
And, you know, going out and meeting with all these folks, setting up those vendor relationships and ensuring. They're gonna deliver on the promise that we're promising the guests. Cause we do all the, all the booking and the transactions of those. Mm-hmm. Um, and we, we, where we made a mistake at first is we tried to overextend ourselves into too many services, grocery delivery, and all these different things, firewood delivery.
And what we noticed was it was really taxing our employees and our staff on anything that we would have to, you know, manually do. So then we would partner with all of our vendors, manage those vendors and let them, you know, perform what they're, you know, what they excel at is those wine were right and is the, you know, all the, and we have a great cheeseboard delivery, you know, vendor as well.
And whatever we could do to partner with to really add that extra experience to the guest. And that's something I give back to your last question that I've had to learn is truly. And learning how to provide [00:07:00] that experience to guests. Right. Um, you know, going above and beyond, do they book those services with you directly or with the vendor?
So they, they book 'em with us directly and then we, we feed them over into, into our vendors, through our system. I gotcha. Right, so it's interesting because the model that you have with the location that you're in, I can see why that's super important to be able to offer those offerings and have more of a direct connection within that process.
Because I mean, that's why people are coming there. Versus in a market like I'm in Myrtle Beach, or where Annie is in Panama City Beach, people are coming for the beach. That's the main thing. And I know, you know, in previous. I, we tried to get involved in the attractions business and helping guests with tickets and stuff like that.
And it ended up, it was just a nightmare to be honest. And really it would require having like a full-time concierge or activities department to really at scale when you have that many guests, uh, to be able to, to do it the right way. And so it always ended up that we. You know, gave the guests the [00:08:00] information.
We would send that in pre-arrival emails if these are the things to do, but we kind of kept our hands outside of it. But in your case mm-hmm. I mean, you don't have a beach, so that's, no. The activities are, you know, you're kind of your main bread and and butter there too. Now, do you get, um, do you, do you have partnerships where you're also.
Getting a kickback on those or some sort of mm-hmm. A commission. Yeah. Yeah. We do. We, we, we get, we get, we get a kickback, you know, on those with, with the partner of the vendors with the business that we do, you know, send, send their way. So we've been, yeah, that's great. It's just been, been, it's been great partnerships and, you know, we do on average, um, in, in the high seat, we're in the low seasons now, but, and we, we keep ha, each month continues to be our biggest month in terms of total guess count.
But on average, you know, we're doing well over a thousand reservations each and every single month. Just here in Fredericksburg, for example. Nice. So, mm-hmm. With an, you know, average guest count of 6.2, you know, per stay. So that's, you know, almost 6,000 guests per month that we're bringing here to this market.
Yeah, that's really, I think that's really great. I mean, like, that really is, that's, that's, yeah, that's a lot of [00:09:00] reservations. Wow. Yeah. I wanted to ask you, you, you, you mentioned something, um, talking about, you know, getting set up there and, and one of the things that we had talked to you about previously is the culture that you built at Cozy, and you have a.
Phenomenal reputation within the industry for really have honing in on, you know, what makes a, what makes an organization tick and all the doing all the right things. And I think that, and I may say it wrong, but the e os program was something that you inc say e os is it e o s or, okay. I, yeah. Um, so you, you did that and I, uh, we've talked to a few people that, that have used it, but I think you guys really like took it to the next level.
I'd love to hear more about how you brought that in, why you decided to bring that in, and what it, how it worked out for you and where you're at. with Yeah. And, and, and EOS Singlehandedly, which stands for the Entrepreneurial Operating System. And I originally learned about it from, uh, uh, book bouts of, uh, of inventory and him implementing it.
And I spoke with numerous other proc managers in between 2019 and 2020 who were [00:10:00] implementing it. And just heard how much of a game changer it was for businesses and you hear all these great things, right? And you always have to assess, is this gonna be a good thing for my business? You know, is this worth exactly the investment?
Yeah. You know, is this really gonna be something that we want to do? And if it wasn't e os, it had to be some other type of operating system. And I, I think Steve Trover always explains it best. And sometimes I even fumble on trying to really, how to explain to people. It's not a software, right? Mm-hmm. It's not something physical that you can actually see, but it's, it's a way, and it's a fundamental way for you to run your business and keep it organized and instill accountability all the way down from the top, all the way through the bottom, and ensure that everyone knows what success looks like and everyone in your company, mm-hmm.
They know exactly where you're going. There is no, there's no hidden secrets. They know what your goals are each and every year. Each and every [00:11:00] quarter what we're gonna be working on, what your goals are every quarter, and instills that framework all the way down. And every meeting in your company is run the exact same way.
And so how you run all of your meetings, um, to how everyone has measured their success. And again, every quarter. So making that decision to bring in e o s again, it, it was about a six figure in. For us to, to do this. And we were gonna go down the path to, to do it ourself. And there's what's called self implementing.
Mm-hmm. And the biggest problem that I noticed, even in all of our meetings, including myself, you have an hour meeting schedule and you have this great agenda. Well, suddenly you're 30 minutes in and everyone's off track because other issues presented themselves. And you're down a rabbit hole over here and you're down a rabbit hole over here and you suddenly, okay, you know, we're out at 11, you know, meetings at 10, but we're out at 11.
Right. And so it just, it, our business [00:12:00] wasn't running efficiently and we were playing whacka all over the business. Yeah. Cause decisions were just being made from a reactive and there was no fluid operating system. And all the struggles and all of my experience that I've dealt with proc Manchester, so there has to be a better way.
At the time we were about at 70 homes and I said there has to be a more efficient. To do this, other than trying to manage businesses up through CRM with managers and standard review processes and maybe setting goals and things like that with employees, there has to be a fluid way to do this. And that's when, uh, Scott Hyman, who's our cto and he's the co-owner of, of Coast Vacation Rentals, we said, we're gonna go down this path.
We're gonna make this investment, and we're gonna, we're gonna set our company up the right way and get in a rhythm that everyone buys into. And the big part of eos too, that no one really talks about is what it does for your. culture Because mm-hmm. Everyone wants to be a part of something. Yeah. Including myself.
Yeah, for sure. Yeah. And they wanna be on, they wanna be on that mission together. Yeah. And it's hard to be a part of something if [00:13:00] you don't even know what success looks like, right. Or where your company's going, or what your absolutely. Goals are. Yeah. For the longest time, I made so many mistakes of, you know, proc managers would come in, you know, Hey, what's my, what's my week look like?
Hey, here's the 15 tasks you're supposed to be doing. Here's your checklist of maintenance specs. No, it's we getting in that rhythm, getting in that cadence and giving them and being empowered with the right goals and where the company is going and how does their work in their role help us achieve our one year, three and five year plan, and that it's allowed our entire.
To come together and we've really built a family and yeah, it's over the last two years and, and we just, actually, my wife and I moved here to Fredericksburg about two months ago. Oh, ok. And, uh, we've been commuting, you know, from North Dripping Springs and South Austin for the last, you know, two years. And, um, every time I come in here, just all the new faces we continue to see and every, you know, I would come in here three days a week driving about an hour [00:14:00] each way and being here the last two months just seeing, I mean, I've.
I felt that culture. But we've all just been so thankful together as a team and we acknowledge in our life, guys, look what we've built together. Cause it's not me. Yeah, yeah. It's not just, it's not a me thing, it's a we. And that has been the most successful thing. And I look back, it truly is from implementing us.
And what we did was bring in that consultant, what is called an implement. A part of EOS worldwide, and it's an, it's a really highly, you know, uh, uh, proficient business mind individual who has all those experiences, right? They've failed time and time again. They've been business owners themselves, and they really come with the world, you know, and breadth of knowledge.
And our implementers, Amy Johansen, she's been phenomenal. And should we, we meet every quarter as a leadership team and every quarter as everyone individually to go over all of her goals, and she keeps us all just intact. But you can have very healthy and constructive arguments too, because there's a [00:15:00] lot of difficult conversations to have.
Yes. Yeah, of course. There's so many things where you gotta call out what's called the elephant, the room. Hey. Operations. You're just not doing this and it's causing the ripple effect all the way through. Let's work together and figure it out. And she brings us all together to stay in that team atmosphere.
And it's made us stronger at the same time. Yeah, I can, I, I can only imagine. And I've worked in some organizations that, um, goals and messaging, everything comes from top down. And when you're at the bottom rung, you start to feel it to your point, like you don't know, like you are, you're just waiting for that shoe to drop, you know, to tell you what it is you're supposed to do.
And so it's almost like you said, idle and you're not really honing your skills. So I, mm-hmm. I think that I love. And I feel like the vacation rental industry has really embraced this type of culture in that everybody, you know, you're only as strong as your weakest. And, you know, and, and that I don't, I never saw that in the hotel world to this degree.
I didn't see it in the management companies that I worked for. And I know that I started a [00:16:00] management company with my husband and some other people, and we tried that and, and unfortunately our, um, our president at the time wanted to be. You know, at the top of the wrong and make all the decisions and it mm-hmm.
It, it started to cause so much friction because it, you got to the point where like you brought these people on with a knowledge base for a reason. Let them, let them manage that portion and not micromanage everybody to the point that they just get burnout or not interested and not engaged. And so I, I applaud you for, for taking this step.
I mean, again, it's a cost. What, what would, what would the cost be if you didn't do it? You know what mean? And look at, I mean, the growth that you've had, right? Right. I'm sure a part of it, yeah. You can align your growth right. To those things that you've learned and you, you literally wouldn't have been able to do it.
I mean, one of my biggest failures too I feel like it's been such a rush of companies that employ e o s now within their business.
I just spent time with, um, Melanie from Oak Island Realty, who's on the V r A board with me. Mm-hmm. And she was telling me how they recently have, have gone through e o s in the past year, and [00:17:00] it, same, same response that it just, it has completely changed their business and they're still online and it's working great.
We had Christina on the show, uh, recently who she showed us or told us about before she sold her business, how they had implemented it, and that really set them up to be able to sell the business mm-hmm. In such a magnificent way in price. Right. So it's, it's just interesting that all of a sudden this has become such a thing within vacation rentals, and I know Brooke with inventory is, is a big proponent of it.
As you mentioned, Steve Trover with better talent. Is it because of the two of them, do you think, is that their influence of talking about it, that it's come. I think a lot of it has been, especially, you know, not only Brooke, but Steve with all of his hiring talks, right. And everything that he's had to do and, and how, you know, from the recruiting side of things and, and really how that goes hand in hand sometimes with, with e os.
And I think they, it's kind of been a, you know, uh, kind of, I don't think they've realized how much effect they've had during their talks of, Hey, this is a huge [00:18:00] thing for the industry. Right? And I, I can't imagine. Um, being, if I was to own any type of operational services company, I couldn't imagine ever running an operational services company.
Not on e os. Yeah. It, it really, you know, you know, right now, you know, we had, uh, a big freeze here last three days and looking out right now at the window with ice and everything, all over the trees. We've had a winter rise. All of our properties up. We've had, our staff has been. Handover fist to get all of our homes rise, everything taken care of.
Everything that's happened here the last three days, but it keeps pulse on everyone that's within a 30 mile radius from, from cleaners to product manage inspectors, housekeeping supervisors. And it really allows us to Allstate organized. Cause we're all moving. We're every, we're, we're essentially a logistics company.
We're moving absolutely. Constantly. That's, that's a hundred percent what it's, and it keeps everyone, you know, kind of a pulse on the business and it keeps that organiz. It doesn't mean you're not gonna make mistakes, but allows everything's that link in [00:19:00] the chain and you really can pinpoint, Hey, where, where do we drop the ball here?
And then how can, who can pick it back up and, and run forward? Can you give us an example of when you're running a meeting, what you do now differently so that that doesn't happen? That you were starting at 10 and now it's 1115 and you haven't gotten through half of the agenda. Walk us through what a meeting looks like now.
Yeah, so the two rules of of EOS is, uh, the meetings, they start on time and they end on time no matter what. It doesn't matter if someone's giving this great exorbitant presentation meeting's over at 11, we're gonna respect everyone's. time And then number two is that the only two reasons that you can miss the meeting is if you're on vacation or if you're dead.
And if you abide by, and that's, those are the rules. Wait, I wanna hear those are legit Traveling for business or what, what if, uh, a doctor, you gotta call in. Yeah. And, and you know, and, but if, you know, take, take, take the time off. Right. Take, take that six time, take anything, you know, [00:20:00] and we're all, everyone has has their lives, right?
So Sure. We. Yeah, if you've got Doctor Point, if you're on travel, obviously everyone understands that and it's essentially considered vacation, but you know, it does if you're, if you're, you know, if you're still out in the field and you can't make it back into the office, you know, for your weekly scheduled point for your operations team.
And it's, it's a, it's one meeting, one hour a week. And some companies can do it a little differently and certain departments can maybe have, you know, one meeting, um, you know, every other. week Um, it just depends. But our leadership team, for instance, meets every single Wednesday, 2:00 to 3:30 PM uh, two to 3:30 PM and that meeting starts right at two.
It ends right at 3:30 or earlier. And it's all structured. And so you first start out and, and what I love about it most and what we never do, we would always just hit the ground running in meetings. We never took the time to say, Hey, what, what's, what's amazing today for you? What's a great thing that's happened to you today?
Personally? Celebrate. Yeah. Yeah. And professionally, because so many negatives. We can do a thousand [00:21:00] things right, but the one negative at 1001, that's what. Remems. Sure. Yeah. Yeah. And so you, you kick that meeting off and you just start talking about immediately, Hey, what, what is everyone's personal and professional best from the last time we met last week, but I have learned more about my team.
I love that in those five minutes a week than I ever have. What is important to them as their person? Yeah. Right. And then that's really good. All that. What's something that you can celebrate last week that you accomplished, uh, professionally, and then we go into the data section and you're just spending five minutes with each section.
The data section is all the KPIs that you have agreed to as a leadership group that we're gonna measure as a business. But we can pull that lever and we can talk about it. You measure it every week for every 13 weeks in all four quarters of the year. So you can really start to see improvement, or you can start to see, hey, things are going down.
If it's over the course of three or more weeks where you haven't hit your. Then it becomes what's called an issue and [00:22:00] you bring that into the issues list section and we'll debate it and argue with them. We don't talk about anything other than, Hey, this is our numbers, this is our data, and we leave that B.
Then we go into what's called the headline section. Headlines are things of, Hey, I, um, I'm going on vacation next week. Or Hey, um, you know, we just signed an amazing 12 unit contract or anything that's a shout out. Right? Right. Anything that's really special that anyone needs to. Hey, we just hired this new person.
And then you go into the to-dos section and to-dos. Again, it's a, it's a five minute, is it, you know, is it done or not done? Hey. Mm-hmm. Last week you said you were gonna do this, and what's beautiful is everyone's in the room. So when someone says, I will do that, I'm gonna own it, you have until next week to own it.
Mm-hmm. And so it brings kind of that group together saying, well, You know, John over there said he was gonna own that. And then when John comes to that meeting as another group, no one likes to come to that meeting saying, oh, I didn't get it done. Right. Yeah. And actually think [00:23:00] things will pop up where you obviously can't get everything done, but then that just goes into the next week and once you, you know, go to through the to dos, then you go into the rock section.
Mm-hmm. Rocks are goals and all you state is, am I on. Um, am I, uh, uh, done or am I off track? That's all you state around the room. If anyone's off track, it becomes an issue and we'll debate and we'll argue it in issues. This session let's, you know, you don't need to explain why you're off track right there.
That's not the time for it. And then once we go in into the issues list section, that's the bulk of the. And Okay. And the issues list section that, you know, whoever has an issue can bring it up there, Hey, I have an issue. Mm-hmm. And then you say, who can help me solve it? So as an example of someone in customer service, which is a leadership position in our company, we, we pride ourselves on, they have an issue with, let's say, something in operations that's causing the pickup, Hey, here's my issue.
And I think, you know, Chris, who's a director, operations can solve it. [00:24:00] They're gonna debate and have a healthy argument to solve that issue or whatever, and present a. And whatever that solution is, is ultimately gonna go back to what's called to do. Mm-hmm. That's when things just start driving and pushing for it, and you're never gonna solve every issue.
Sure, yeah. Every, every week there's probably 15 to 20 critical issues, and your goal every week is to solve the top three and then as many others that you can, but at least it lives somewhere. Now what if you don't finish the list for that day? Does this like get carried onto the following week? It would just get carried onto the following week.
Okay. And And you try to prioritize as much as you can with obviously as crazy as lives can be. Yeah. And then the issue will constantly just live there and if an issue doesn't live there until it's solved, if an issue's on there for about three or four weeks and hasn't been solved, you'll usually move that up to one of the top three.
Mm-hmm. To make sure that it gets solved. And then you conclude the meeting and everyone rates. And so if anyone rates it under seven, um, if they don't [00:25:00] rate it an eight or higher, then you have to have a one-on-one with that person. Hey, what, you know, why, why is that? You know, why'd you rate me a seven?
Why'd you rate me a six? You know? Right. Where can I are, are they rating you or who are they rating that leading the meeting or the meeting overall? The meeting. The meeting overall. Okay. And, you know, some, you know, in, in my experience, what I face is sometimes, well, hey, we started the meeting and hey, and.
You know, I've, I've failed numerous times. I've shown up late five minutes. Well, hey, you were five minutes late. We didn't start on time. Oh, they called you out. Yeah. That's fair. They called and, and hey, we, we, we ended five minutes late, you know, or I didn't get to my issue's. Been up there for three weeks and I haven't gotten a chance.
It's a big issue in my department. I need to solve it. And so, you know, it allows them to really understand. And it allows us to understand, okay, what, like where's the disconnect? And let's all get back and align. What a, what a great way to like really instill confidence in each team member. Like one empowerment.
But I think two, when you come up in an organization, sometimes you get stuck in these meetings and you don't, you don't [00:26:00] know. Where your voice belongs in the conversation. Yeah. So keeping it very structured, I think that's really important. I, I'm just thinking about, you know, different meetings that I've been in through my career where there was times where like I wanted to speak up, but I didn't have that confidence to say like, I need help.
Same. So it ended up being a, you know, it ended up being like a bitch session off the side, which is not doing anybody any good. It needs to be in front of everybody. For, so accountability is there, but also that problem solving within the team to make everybody understand like, I can't do my job without you doing your job at vice versa.
Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. And that's the beauty, like when you tie it back to the problem solving, that's the beauty of it. When we're at our leadership team, our, our core pillars, our leadership team is business development, and then we have finance. We have operations, owner relations, and then customer service. Those are the five key leadership positions that we saw are what drives our company daily and what, where we can pull the letters and actually have control of our business.
But then what each leadership team member does is they have their one [00:27:00] hour meeting each week or biweekly with all their team members. Mm-hmm. So now you're empowering all of your. To solve issues. So what really start stops to happen is your leadership team really start in the very beginning. You're gonna be solving a lot of kind of smaller issues of your business.
You're really gonna get it work out the twinks. But then we're, we're over a year and about a month, month and a half in now to doing this program. We're solving critical issues of this business and we, all the issues that we, we used to used to solve as leadership team are being solved in the individual departments leadership.
Their department. Right. So it doesn't have to bubble up to that higher level. Mm-hmm. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And it empowers, it empowers all of them to, you know, really get, you know, do what they were hired to do and, and feel empowered in their role and allows them to be successful so they can't, to Annie's point, speak up.
Yeah. Now, do you use Predictive index or Culture index in We do Personalities. Okay. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Which, which, which one? So we've used both, you know, [00:28:00] we, we use culture, we use Culture Index as a whole company. That's like our mm-hmm. Kinda system of record index. But every time that we use better talent with Steve Trover to, you know, hire on a position, you know, they always do the predictive indexing first.
And we take a look at that and we always, we'll map back to the culture index as well. Once they do come on with us, you know, full-time. That makes sense. A Annie and I took both the predictive index and the culture index test last year, I think between our meetings with Amber, Amber Hurdle and Steve Trover separately.
Yeah. But they both sent it to him, sent it to us, so we just took them. Um, but it's interesting. My predictive index test was much more aligned with who I actually am. Um, the culture index one, it was, it was close, but the predictive VX one was, was, was closer, more spot on. And yeah. And we, we've, we've seen that a little bit a, a little bit.
Yeah. Um, and there was a few things that Predictive Index were like, Nope, that's, that's definitely me. That's, yeah. So I sometimes those things are hard. Oh, sorry. Oh, no, it's okay. [00:29:00] Yeah, he, I, I asked Steve about that, um, actually last week when we were in Miami for Im N Conference, and he said that the cult, the Predictive Index was built after Culture Index.
But I mean, they're based on it, very similar principles, but that culture index is a little bit outdated compared to mm-hmm. How they, how they put. Traits together for predictive index, so mm-hmm. I guess that's kind of the main difference there, but they're both good. Yeah. And, and so helpful. Right. I think when you read that, it's super helpful.
It's like, if you, if everybody, I said this to Steve, I was like, you have such an advantage over anybody that you've take, you've given that test tube because you know how to, you know exactly how to act. Mm-hmm. What to say or what not to say, but it really, even in day-to-day, You know, I think we're, we're just getting into implementing that within Costco.
Mm-hmm. And we're gonna be able to roll that out for our franchisees to help them as they start hiring people within their businesses. Because it really, if you know certain traits of a person, not necessarily bad or good, but I mean, [00:30:00] how they react to certain things. You also, it gives you a better idea of.
That whatever they do is not personal to you. And I think it's really easy to take things personally if somebody sounds short or doesn't get back to you quickly or whatever it is, but knowing some of these things ahead of time just gives you a little bit of a leg up. I, I feel like everybody should have like, Uh, one of those cards and just hand them out when we meet people.
Yeah, yeah. I, um, I, um, I did the test, Steve. I done it, like she said, we did that and when I was starting to look for a new role, cuz I knew Lexicon was gonna be sunsetting, I was like, you know, he was trying to do it kind of on the, you know, download because you didn't wanna talk about the fact that, that a company was gonna go on, you know, go down and, you know, be sold or whatever.
So it was being very careful. So I, I had reached out to Steve and, and Stephanie was the person that really helped me be, but it was just so funny because they would identify roles and they would say like, your predictive index is perfect for this role. And they like, that's how they were assessing the fit.
And this role that I have currently with, uh, homes and villas. I initially was like, that's just not [00:31:00] for me. And they both were like, oh no, this role is absolutely, this was written for you. So funny. And it was funny cuz I just scanned through and I was like, nah, it's just, yeah, it's not me. And then when I finally sat down and read it, it was like literally if I had to put down like 10 things I wanted, it was like nine of them were right there in this job description.
So it was like written for me with the experience and like the weird experiences that I always thought was like W word. Be of no value collectively to somebody. This is exactly the role that it was meant for. And they were like, this is the, trust me. This is completely you. And so I've gotten here and I've just, you know, felt right at home, right at ease.
I mean, big organization. Little different than I, you know, I'm used to in the last few years. But I think for them to have that in their toolkit, and for you as an employer to have that in your toolkit on looking for people, or again, when your staff comes in, it's like you, you know, Things aren't necessarily because someone's a bad person or they're just chaotic.
Some things, skill sets they don't have, and that's where you need to manage them and coach them and help them build [00:32:00] their, again, build their confidence up, build that, mm-hmm. That muscle up for them to be able to manage themselves. And I think, didn't you, you reshuffled your team after going through this too, right?
There's some people that, you know, unfortunately just you've realized the reason things weren't working is because they just weren't a good fit. And probably likewise, it's, it's both ways that you weren't a good fit for them, but mm-hmm. Tell us a little bit about that. And, and that's, I mean, I, we've had, so we started out the leadership team of eight when we first started this.
We're now down to. We've had four people, uh, lead the leadership team, uh, over the last year that we, you know, that we, we've chosen not to, those weren't good fits. They weren't a good fit, right? They're not the right seat on the bus. And, um, it's not that our company values maybe weren't there, it's just, you know, the.
Hey, this is where the company is going and, and we want you to be a part of that. Um, and this is what we've all agreed to and we just, we, we've noticed that hey, these folks weren't gonna be able to get us to that next, next step. And, and they probably didn't want to get us there either. Yeah. You know, at the same time.
[00:33:00] And, and those are some of the, it's been some of the hardest decisions I've had to make for sure as a business owner. Um, but it's. Probably single handed, the biggest lessons learned from me as well, and just helping me grow as a leader at the same time. Mm-hmm. You know, through, through all of this. And, um, you know, w we've had very little turnover as a company, not only since implementing EOS but since doing culture, you know, indexing.
On everyone. And it truly allows you to know what everyone's like, how they tick scientifically in the workplace, and what those weaknesses are. How can you help them succeed? But one of my, one of my biggest failures too, is you used to have, I used to have, Hey, it'll be a great team member over here. We have a new role, right?
We have a new problem and a new leadership role, and you wanna promote somebody. Well, they've done so good over here and they're such a great. person You're actually doing them a disservice by assuming that they're gonna do great over in this role. Right. And I used to make that mistake a lot [00:34:00] and um, oh hey, let's move you over here because you definitely can do that.
Well, You know, maybe that role is more project management based. They're really great with people and sales and, and customer service, but project management is a whole different thing, right? Yeah. Yeah. That's a whole different way of thinking and moving that ball through step by step and staying organized, having the right checklist and the right process for yourself, and you're doing them a disservice and you're actually setting them up for failure.
Unin. Yeah, that is true. Very true. Yeah. Mm-hmm. Yeah. Now, obviously, I mean, professional and personal development has been a key theme for you and your organization in this growth period. Um, which it just really lends itself to see why. Your growth has happened so amazingly too. But I know you attended the Keystone Retreats last year.
Mm-hmm. And I'm curious about your experience in that, because I'm actually, I was supposed to go last year and I wasn't able to make it, but I'm going to be going to it very soon. And for anybody who doesn't know [00:35:00] Keystone Retreats is put on by a Matt Lando and, uh, Steve Schwab, who is my boss, and c e o at casa.
But I'm very excited to go to it. But curious what your experience was and what your takeaways. Yeah. Yeah. And, and shout out definitely to, to Steve and Matt for getting that organized and putting that on last year cuz it was, I think out of every conference, every training, everything that I've been into to be at a farm, you know, it was right after Darm, you know, in August last year.
Yeah. And to be on, they did four different cohorts, you know, each weekend. And I was one on the first coworker the first weekend right after Darn going out, you know, driving 50 miles out to this beautiful farm. Um, on the way out, you know, I had a rental car, Steve actually rode with me first time that I, yeah.
I met, I've known Steve met a couple times, but I had, I've never had 50 minutes like one-on-one with somebody like that. Yeah. And yeah, I think I learned more just in those 50 minutes driving out to the farm and then you get to the farm and then there's all these other amazing company owners out [00:36:00] there who are going through the exact same challenges You.
And going through all the same problems. Right. Might be in a different market, but then for three full days it was, it was more of a think tank. Yeah. You know, if it had a, had a structure, there was an agenda, but it really allowed us to get creative and argue and, and to, you know, Steve's quote is, you know, if you're not here to nerd out for three days on vacation rentals, and you probably just shouldn't be.
Right. That's really what it, yeah. For three full days, just vacation rentals, every problem, what's successful and really getting to know people at that level. Cause at a conference it's really easy right? To, Hey, 30 minutes, Hey, how are you? We're all rushing, we're all busy. We're gonna this meeting that we're speaking here, and then at night, we all have our own dinners planned.
Vendors wanna take you out here and here and here. And so you really can't get a true, authentic connection. Yeah. Mm-hmm. Like we did then. I, I really, really, really enjoyed that and I highly would recommend anyone to [00:37:00] go and spend that money and invest in yourself and invest in your company and, and get, you know, uh, some of the right answers you've been looking for.
Mm-hmm. And also will, you know, uh, and, and something that even Steve and Matt challenge me on you, what is your why? And I've always had a why and why and why, and I thought I knew what my why was. And. I, you know, I love growth and I love building the business, and what it turned out was my why was I not only love doing this for my family, but also my family downstairs here at our office.
Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Really doing it for other people was my why. Yeah. And, and really being able to explore that, but no one's ever really. Asked me those type of questions, and so I Yeah. Pulled it outta you. Yeah. Yeah. So it was, it was a phenomenal retreat. So, yeah. I can't remember who we talked to. Am I, maybe it was Lauren Madwell who, who talked about being there and like, just like crying, like having that, that thing I cri I cried too.[00:38:00]
Okay, so it was like, so Alex is gonna cry when she goes, oh, definitely. It was that, that, that feeling of being heard and being like, okay, you, you understand me and, and where my position is. And it was, it's funny because as someone who started out in vacation rentals and then, you know, moved into the, the.
The, the vendor space, I was like, really installed. I was like, why can't I go? You know, like it's just Right. Yeah. Exactly. On your third world citizen. Yeah. And so Alex always said, Alex always says like, she's like, I'm like, but I'm not a property manager. She's like, but you really are. You're just a special version of, of all of these things.
But I can imagine, I can imagine just the people that we have talked to that have gone to it again, just felt like it was a safe space. Mm-hmm. They created this environment that it was like, you could just say all the things that you've just been wanting to say for so long and didn't have that. Audience to say it too.
Mm-hmm. And, and feel like somebody wasn't gonna come back to you with a instant solution. It was like, let me hear what you're, let's all talk about it. Like, that was what I got from the conversations [00:39:00] we've had with people. So I that's it's wonderful that they're doing that. I think it's so, so needed. It really is.
Yeah. Sorry, go ahead. I just, oh, no, fine. Just having that mastermind, you know what, no matter what industry that you're in, is huge. I mean, having access to the right people, the right information can help you. Avoid missteps that you otherwise would've had to learn through and go through. But it's like if you, if it's not necessary, if you've got other people that can help you, just take advantage of that.
But yeah, and we really all are, no matter where we operate, we all deal with basically the same problems. So whether it's specifically within the business day to day or the. Leadership, um, you know, growth and, and challenges and anxieties and insecurities. We all have, they're very similar. So yeah, I, I'm very excited.
I can't wait to come back and report on it after that, but, uh, yeah, I look forward to hearing hearing. You're have a great time. And the industry is so fragmented that everyone keeps talking about Yeah. It's so fragment. It's so fragment. But Right. To your point, [00:40:00] while we all might, there might be so many different company owners, We're all, maybe inter, we're not as interconnected as we want to be in terms of, you know, not all of us are a franchise, right?
Or not all of us are owned by a Vic Casaa. And, but if you really spend three days there, you're gonna, we're we all deal with the same at the fundamental Sure. It's all the same. It's, it's, that's not fragmented at all. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I think that's why our industry is so close too. Yeah. You know, we talk about that on the show all the time, that our industry is unique, how closely bonded we all are.
And I think that's part of it because Yeah. A lot of same things. Yeah. So what's, what's next for Matt and Cozy? Yeah. Question. So, so yeah. So, uh, excellent question. So, you know, this year we've, we've reset our, uh, going in from last year, you know, going into the US model, we reset our entire marketing strategy, our one.
Three year, five and 10 year goals. And, and this year, you know, what our goal is as, as a company is to be the number one employer in Fredericksburg, Texas. And we've set out how to, yeah, [00:41:00] how to measure all of that and, and what success looks like to do that. Um, and you know, our goal is to be at 350, you know, high quality homes.
And as, as a brand, we're still gonna be called Close Vacation rentals, but we're moving to our slogan and moving everything over to, uh, stay cozy dot. And, and I love that our whole theme is gonna be all surrounding to stay cozy. And, you know, my wife and I, uh, I didn't touch too much on it and I'm very, you know, very thankful for her.
You know, we started this business together and. When we really looked at the fundamentals of why we called Cozy, cozy, our biggest thing that we noticed was people spend the most time right in bed When they're at a vacation, well, it's eight straight hours. Having a really cozy environment, a cozy house where they can experience that.
Mm-hmm. And having high quality sheets, high quality lens. High quality towels and really getting back to that and, and really enforcing that into our brand and everything we do. And so as we move forward from here today, everything we do is gonna be all around staying cozy [00:42:00] for both our owners. I love that for our customers, and that's, that's where we're heading as a, as a cozy family here.
And we've, unfortunately, we've gotten a little bit away from that unintentionally, because all the complexity. All the different owner requirements, what certain owners wants, and some of these owners don't want, and at, at scale, how do you really implement that? But that's gonna be our foundational and our footprint going forward is just all about saying cozy, being authentic to, you know, our Texas customers and mm-hmm.
And becoming that really great Texas brand that people resonate with. And then also really investing and providing into to our owners in the, in their experience. Um, right. That's, that's, that's where we're heading because the guest. It has to be there no matter what. Right? Exceptional customer service.
We've really figured that out in exceptional cleaning. We've got that down, down pat. But we really need to, you know, uh, uh, be there for our owners and, and we always have been. But the industry's moving to more transparency and more education and really wowing [00:43:00] our owners, because without owners, you can't have great employees.
And without great employees, you can't service those. Yep. So true. It all starts with the owners. That's a hundred percent true. Mm-hmm. Wow. Well, I think this is gonna be another year of incredible growth for Cozy and yeah, all these steps that have led you to, to this point, it's, they've all been in the right alignment and this is now gonna be super exciting to watch as you continue to move up and, and I hope that you guys do become the number one employer in Fredericksburg.
I don't know how you possibly couldn't, but that's impressive. Thank y'all. Yeah. Thank you so much and I, and, and congrats to both y'all and I, I'd love watching what y'all are doing and, and Oh, thank you. You're doing so many great things for the industry, so thank you. It's a pleasure. Thank you. Help you guys too.
I appreciate, appreciate that. So if anybody wants to get in touch with you, Matt, what's the best way to reach you? Yeah, so my email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Okay. Um, feel free to email me at, at any time and, and, uh, you know, open Door would love to talk to, to. And that's what's helped me the most industry's amount of people that I've [00:44:00] reached out to in any difficult situation, and they've always been there and so, right.
Yeah. Always make sure I, we'll reciprocated back. We're a very gracious group. Mm-hmm. Yeah, for sure. Mm-hmm. If anybody wants to get in touch with Annie and I, you can go to Alex and annie podcast.com and until next time, thank you for tuning in everybody. Bye. Thanks, Matt. Thank you.
Founder & CEO- Cozi Vacation Rentals
Matt Durrette is the Founder and CEO of Cozi Vacation Rentals, nestled in the beautiful Texas Hill Country in Fredericksburg, TX. Cozi is a premier 24/7 provider of property management and marketing services for its owners and a provider of unforgettable experiences for its guests. Originally founding the business out of Baltimore, MD, in 2014, Matt was able to grow his managed portfolio in this downtown market to 100 homes from 2014 to 2019 while working full-time for Northrop Grumman as a Global Business Development Representative and attending grad school at Saint Joseph’s University, in Philadelphia, where he obtained his MBA in Marketing and Data Analytics in 2018.
Matt was fortunate to meet his beautiful wife, Jenna, who is originally from Austin, Texas. In Summer 2019, Jenna easily convinced Matt to move back to be near her family. Upon moving, Matt left his full-time job at Northrop and pursued Cozi Vacation Rentals full-time. In March 2020, COVID ultimately shut down Cozi’s Baltimore City Market, and from this point, Matt chose to solely focus Cozi's growth on the drive-to tourism markets of the Texas Hill Country just south of Austin. Since April 2020, Matt has organically grown and scaled the Cozi Vacation Rentals unit portfolio in Texas from 0 to 250 units within two years.