Houston tile installer uses social media in multiple ways to improve her business
Schannon Yodice (who uses the name Schannon Violet on social media) is also known on the internet as ThatTileChick (www.instagram.com/ThatTileChick). She and her boyfriend Chris Ortega own and operate Atlantis Construction in Houston, Texas, and are members of the National Tile Contractors Association. Schannon is originally from New York, and grew up in the construction industry, learning much from her father, who was a stonemason. She helped him often in her youth, and always had a desire to be in the trade but opted for a college degree in accounting for a variety of reasons. She quickly found that sitting at a desk was not for her.
Schannon and Chris moved to Houston in 2017 to pursue real estate investing, and while exploring these opportunities realized that shower renovation and construction utilizing tile and stone offered real opportunity for them. They started Atlantis Construction while Schannon was still working in accounting. This soon led to so much work that she was able to quit her job and join Chris full time in the business. Tile and stone installers were hard to find and the quality in the area was not up to their standards, which led them to pursue this specialization in their business.
Through online networking with social media, they formed a relationship with Paul Luccia, owner of Cabot & Rowe in Houston. Paul has been a mentor for them in many ways and has had a positive impact on their business. Schannon has an extremely large following on social media, and I was excited to sit down with her to gain her unique perspective on our industry and the opportunities that are there for her as young professional.
How have you been able to transition your career from accounting into being a partner with your boyfriend Chris in a tile and stone installation company?
Accounting has helped me because it taught me to put processes in place. We spend a lot of time in the field and in bidding jobs and meeting with clients. Having an accounting background is one advantage I have in setting up the jobs to be profitable and to track that process throughout the duration of the project. I feel fortunate for this, and someday hope to be able to share some of this with others in our industry.
How has social media involvement and engagement positively impacted your business?
In 2017 when we started doing research, we joined several of these tile groups. In these groups we met Paul Luccia with Cabot & Rowe, and he became a big influence on us as a friend and mentor. When he started his company (Built with Foam), he gave us opportunities to install for him and this led to more jobs in the area. Social media and networking have helped us to gain a reputation both locally and nationally. I post educational information in the towns and cities around us, which has led to a lot of clients in this area. We talk about waterproofing, installation best practices, shower installations and more. We use video to show people we are serious about what we do and that we follow industry standards. Social media is a powerful tool when used in this way. I believe if you put good out there, good will come back to you. This has always worked for me. I have learned a lot from others who are willing to share with me by putting myself out there with my ideas and my questions.
What opportunities do you see for yourself in our industry that go beyond installation?
I love to work with my hands and I love installing tile, but I also see a glaring need in the trades with people needing help running their businesses. This involves accounting, estimating, project management, and setting up a business model and a business plan and sticking to it. I hope to be able to explore this in more detail as I progress in our industry.
As a young woman in our industry, what advice would you give to people who might be considering the tile industry or who might not be aware of the opportunities that are out there?
If they have an interest I would encourage them to go for it. I went the college path. I am not saying it is bad to do what I did. But often I think we are forced to go to college, and we are forced to take on debt, and if we don’t, we are made to feel like we are a failure. If you are mature enough to handle college, great. But I had to take on $40,000 in college loans in order to get my degree. And then I realized I really didn’t want to do that for a living for the rest of my life. I wish I had entered the trade right away because I knew I was interested in this. Society puts this pressure on you to go to college. I wish I had done it differently. I should have worked with my dad, learned the business, made money, and then taken business classes with the resources I had earned through hard work without taking on this massive student loan debt which has hampered me for years. So my advice is if you have the itch to get into our industry, do it!
You have used social media to gain a large following and to network with peers in order to share ideas and discuss best practices. In doing so, it is evident that you receive both positive and negative feedback related to your approach and style. How do you handle the responses and not let them affect you as a person or have it impact your strategy?
The tile industry, like the construction industry, is predominantly male. When I jumped into social media, I didn’t even think about what type of response I would get. Chris and Paul sat down with me and we discussed it, and I just decided that I was all in. I was done with accounting and I felt that marketing myself and our business was the right approach. I started my own page on Instagram. I joined all the social media tile groups and we joined NTCA. Social media has been so positive for me because I was able to meet people like Paul. Through social media, I sell jobs and communicate with clients. I get to learn about new products and techniques. I talk to people from all over the world who share a passion for tile. The networking possibilities are endless.
But on the other side of that, by putting yourself out there, you have to understand that people are going to pick you apart. They will judge everything you do. They interpret what you do in their own manner and they don’t know anything about you really. They criticize your job without knowing all the details surrounding the decisions you make. At first, it was really hard to deal with that because people would pick me apart to no end. Tears were shed because some people were really cruel to me. But I thought to myself, “Either stop posting on the internet or just buck up and don’t let them bother me.” I changed my perception and it is really all about how you view your situation. I decided I am going 150 miles down a highway and these people judging me are stuck in my rearview mirror. I don’t let this negative energy ruin me or my day because I know in my heart I am trying to do something positive. Fortunately, there is so much positive energy that far outweighs the criticism I sometimes receive. I am learning every day from the people I interact with and I am so glad I chose tile as my profession. There is no looking back and there are so many possibilities for me moving forward.
Bart Bettiga is the Executive Director of the National Tile Contractors Association and Publisher of TileLetter. Bettiga is a member of the Board of Governors of Coverings, one the largest tradeshows in North America. He has over 30 years of experience in the tile and stone industry and has served as the NTCA Executive Director since 2002. He is a well known speaker and author on ceramic tile and natural stone distribution and installation. He oversees the financial operations of the NTCA, TileLetter and the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation.