Why Not A Woman?

By Vicki LaPlant

Having been in this industry for over 30 years, I have seen many amazing changes. There have been technological improvements in equipment – furnaces and air conditioners that will tell a technician the last 20 faults that occurred. Technological improvements have enhanced interactions with the customers – instant billing of customers from a hand-held tablet, programs that allow a customer to schedule a service call on-line. Improvements in business processes – recognition of the value of maintenance agreements for the customer and the business, the importance of maximizing the return from labor through pricing methodology and pay for performance systems.

So with all these innovative changes, why are there still as few women in the industry as there were when I got in it 30 years ago, especially in the field? Whenever, I ask this question, I am often told:  “I want to hire a woman, but I can’t find one who has the technical expertise.” My answer:  “So all the men you hire for the field have technical expertise or technical experience?”

The best companies in our industry find young people and provide them the technical expertise they need. So while looking for a bright, clean-cut, well-spoken young person with technical aptitude to add to your technical ranks, why not look specifically for a woman?

I recently had a conversation with Mary Kennedy Thompson, president of Mr. Rooter, a U.S. marine for eight years who says the marines taught her there are two kinds of leaders: “those that are people users and those that are people builders.” She chooses to be the latter as I hope you do. I asked Mary what women bring to an industry dominated by men. She said, “Women bring a different perspective to a company. Without women in its ranks, a company doesn’t have a complete point of view. It doesn’t have the benefit of the full picture.” Men and women approach things differently and we see and hear things differently. Without women in the field, your company is missing half the picture.

Mary Thompson also said, “Our customer is generally a woman and if you have a woman technician interacting with her, the dynamics are different.” Whether nature or nurture, women do listen differently than men. We generally seem to be better at hearing the underlying connotation behind what others are saying. We seem to ask more questions and are better at clarifying what the customer is saying. Isn’t that one of the most important characteristics of a field person? So why wouldn’t you want someone more naturally inclined to use those skills in the field?

Another reason that I am given about not hiring a woman for the field is that “women don’t want the dirty part of the job – attics and crawl spaces.”  My answer:  “And men do?”

Meet Siobhan, an installer for a heating and air conditioning contractor in San Antonio, TX. She recently attended our class on how to educate the customer – not sell the customer. She could have taught the class. Presently, she is a lead installer for her company. We asked her to describe how she approaches an installation and how she interacts with the customer.

First, when she arrives at the home for an installation, she introduces herself and her helper to Mrs. Homeowner. While her helper is setting up for the installation, Siobhan sits down and describes the process of the installation to Mrs. Homeowner. Siobhan makes sure that the homeowner understands what access to the house the installers will need and determines how the installers should enter the home – knocking or not, and verifies the location of all new equipment and new thermostats. Most importantly, she once again offers the homeowner any accessories such as indoor air quality upgrades, humidifiers, line hides, maintenance agreements, etc. that the homeowner did not opt for at the time of the sale.

Next, Siobhan goes outside, puts on her overalls for the installation, and gets to work. Half-way through the installation, she stops, finds the homeowner, and informs her of progress on the job and reassures the customer about the installation.

At the completion of the job, Siobhan reviews her company’s checklist of installation procedures with the customer to demonstrate that all steps have been followed. She shows the customer the new equipment, on her camera phone if necessary, and has the homeowner demonstrate how to change the filter in a new furnaceIn other words, Siobhan doesn’t just show the customer how to do it; she actually has the customer do it. And she has the customer program her new thermostat.

Siobhan is young, tiny, and wiry. I asked her how homeowners react when she shows up at the door.   She said that at first, the customer is somewhat taken aback, but shortly after she interacts with them as described above, the customer is reassured and knows that Siobhan has the technical expertise needed to complete the installation correctly and professionally.

Siobhan has recently been asked to conduct customer service training for all her male counterparts in the installation and service department. And if the men follow Siobhan’s processes, systems, and advice, her company will be a company to be reckoned with.

Okay, no more excuses.  A woman should be the next addition made to your field force. Prove to me that in 30 years, innovation hasn’t just happened in equipment, technology, and processes. Show me that innovation and out of the box thinking is happening in the minds and attitudes of our male-dominated industry.

 

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These group of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area!

Are You Three Feet From Gold?

By Rodney Koop

During the gold rush, cirque 1848 when 300,000 men and women ventured across North America, when heading west to become rich in the California Gold Rush, do you think that the gold in them there hills had just appeared over night? Absolutely not. It had been there for thousands of years, waiting to be found. It wasn’t a question of if the gold existed long before it was unearthed, it was a question of who was going to find it. At some point, someone was three feet from gold and had no idea. Being a contractor for over 40 years, the gold laden service calls have always been there, but it took me knowing what to look for and the process it takes to retrieve the gold. After decades of struggle and doing calls for less than what I was worth, I learned to maximize each call that rang through my business line, working smarter, not harder. I found the glimmer that pays big bucks.


Panning for Gold

One of the main ways gold was found during the many gold rushes North America had was using the art of panning. It’s the multiple sifting process that uses a metal pan, your hands, and patience. It didn’t take fancy tools or state of the art materials to accomplish, it just took skill and the willingness to sift through the muck until you saw the golden nugget peak through the dirt and rock. Have you taken a step back, looked at your jam-packed dispatch board and said, “Are all these calls really worth my time?” Seriously, if you try and take every call that comes through, there will be a homeowner that suffers, whether it be through rushed work, or cancellation because the wait was too long. And in the pan of those customers not pleased with you, do you think you passed up some golden nuggets? I guarantee you have. Why? Because there’s still gold in California, 169 years later.

 

Sift It

The art of sifting has made its way from the gold rush and into present day business genius. I admit it, it’s hard to turn potential profit away. But, when your potential customers are compromising your potential well-developed bottom line – sift it! So, how do we sift when it comes to service calls coming down the pike? The best way to get the information or the map to the gold is a call taker script. Having it spelled out for your dispatcher is not micromanaging – it’s goldmine managing. Now you’ll need to formulate your own version, but here’s a good start to get you on your way and two questions that answer more than you think.

“Thank you for calling (Company Name), my name is ______, how may I help you? Well, you called the right place; we’ll help you get that resolved as soon as possible. Is the issue you’re having upstairs or down stairs? Have you ever used our company services before? And how were you referred to our company? May I have your last name? And your first? May I have your phone number? Is there another number where you can be reached? May I have your address please?

 

  1. “Is the issue you’re having upstairs or downstairs?” This question is imperative to helping you determine if there are other working facilities in the home. Emergencies happen and there are times when your service company will act immediately for a customer. However, their emergency doesn’t mean it’s your emergency. Especially in summer or winter months when your team is slammed, if there are other facilities in the house that can be used, it’s helpful for you to draw attention to it. It’s also a question that unveils whether or not this home could have multiple repairs currently or in the future. The more bathrooms, sinks, air conditioners, etc. the home has, the more potential gold. Allow your questions to determine the priority of the call not your customer.
  2. “May I have your address please?” Most communities have the coveted neighborhood in which service companies blanket mail boxes and doorknobs with marketing material. If you haven’t scouted out where the money is, you need to back up, hang you a local map of your service area up in your shop, and do some reconnaissance. This is crucial to your sifting success. If you don’t have a general idea of where the gold is, you’ll end up panning for it in Florida. Which by the way, there are no known occurrences of gold in Florida.

There is an art to finding gold. Some did stumble upon it, but most had to plot their way to their fortune. There is no question that you know what to do with the gold once you have it in your hands. You are experts who find solutions to problems in the home. However, finding the gold takes another skillset that must be strategically put in place so you aren’t panning for gravel day in and day out. Recently, one of my employees had her driveway graveled and the cost was over a grand for two truckloads. It makes you wonder why panning for gravel wouldn’t eventually pay off right? It would. But, compare two tons of gravel to the worth of five ounces of gold. It boils down to prioritizing your willingness to push through the business of sifting, because you truly are at any given time three feet from gold.

 

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These group of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area!

Nine Guaranteed Takeaways From Service World Expo

By Matt Michel

Are you vacillating about Service World? Do you wonder if it’s worth it? Do you think you cannot afford the cost or time away from the shop? Here are nine takeaways you will benefit from if you attend Service World.

  1. You will learn something unexpected that will change your business or your life.

Whenever I attend a conference, seminar, or trade show, I find myself, my business, or both changed. It used to surprise me. At the end of the event, I would find myself pondering the unexpected something I learned and realize that the event was totally worth it just for that one nugget.

I don’t know what your unexpected nugget will be. I just know that you will come across one or more. I no longer doubt. I will go to Service World expecting to learn something unexpected that will make a big impact and I will.

 

  1. You will learn new industry best practices by the sharpest residential/light commercial contractors in the world.

Service World is like the Navy’s Top Gun School for contractors. The best of the best will be there. True, there will be a great contractor here and there who won’t attend, but more top contractors will be crowded into one space at Service World than anywhere else this entire year.

These are the best because they execute well. Execution is the difference between being good and being great. However, they do more than execute well. They push the envelope. They try new things. They create the new best practices that supplant the old way of doing things because they are superior.  These contractors come to Service World to share what they’ve learned and to pick the brains of other top contractors. When you come to Service World you will get a chance to learn the new best practices years before your competitors even realize they are out there.

 

  1. You will return to the shop refreshed, recharged, and remotivated.

It’s not easy doing what you do. Your opportunities are other people’s problems. They don’t think of them as opportunities and get snippy if they think that’s how you see them. They just want the problems to get fixed right, fast, and affordably. Since most contracting solutions can be any two of:  good, quick, and cheap, your customers can get a tad grouchy when they discover they cannot have it all. Thus, the more opportunities you get, the more beat up you start to feel. Service World can change all of that.

There is an outstanding line up of top motivational speakers. These speakers are not cheap because they are at the top of their game. Fellow contractors speaking will also motivate, as will consultants and exhibitors. Zig Ziglar said motivation is like taking a shower. It wears off, so you need repeat treatments regularly.

Plus, there’s something downright therapeutic about talking with other contractors who face the same challenges you face. It’s even better when they faced and overcame the problems you’re wrestling with. In “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey’s last habit was “sharpening the saw” by taking time away from the day-to-day to rejuvenate yourself. Take time to sharpen your personal saw at Service World. You will return refreshed and ready to take on the world again.

 

  1. You will find products and services that solve unmet needs.

Contractor Ken Goodrich used to post in the Service Roundtable how much money he made from attending Service Roundtable meetings because of a new product or service he discovered. Inevitably, someone would challenge his figure because it seemed so preposterous. Ken would be ready, sharing his calculations. His logic was well reasoned and the point was made. There are plenty of opportunities for an excellent, near term return on your attendance investment if you will just spend time on the show floor and be open to what the different exhibitors are offering.

Exhibitors make substantive investments to come to Service World. Do you know why? It’s because they believe they have products and services that can help contractors’ businesses and that the case for their products and services is powerful and compelling. They believe enough contractors will recognize the opportunity and start buying to make the investment in the show is covered by the gross profit from their new sales. Think about that for a second. Odds are that there is something really good you will want to learn about in the exhibit hall.

 

  1. You will find products and services that will save you time, money, and aggravation over what you buy today.

Contracting Business Hall of Fame member Steve Saunders says that when he goes to a trade show, he treats it as a series of mini-seminars. Saunders stops by each booth and asks the exhibitor how he or she can help his business. It is amazing what you can learn.

All contractors struggle with the shortage of labor. All contractors want to make the phone ring. All contractors are trying to figure out how to survive in the world of Google, Amazon, and your friendly utility monopoly. All contractors want to motivate their people. All contractors offer some form of training. All contractors feel saddled with excessive amounts of inventory. All contractors have overhead. All contractors want to boost marketing conversion and sales close rates. All contractors have fleets of expensive vehicles that must stay on the road to make the company money. All contractors hate government paperwork, regulations, and red tape. All contractors have too few hours every day.

This is not news. You know it. I know it. Every exhibitor knows it. But while you are working on a multiplicity of problems, there will be exhibitors who focus on just one or two. And, they get really, really good in their area of expertise. These specialists can make your life easier, more profitable, and free up time for important things (like fishing).

 

  1. You demonstrate to your team the importance of training.

Do you tell your team that training is important? You should.  It is. Yet, even if you stress its importance, do you demonstrate it? Do you walk your talk? Moreover, do you truly believe that training is important? If you do, you will come to Service World.

The best way to get a technician or plumber to sell a new product is to put one in the tech’s or plumber’s home. Once they experience it, they understand the benefits and become much more effective communicating those benefits to your customers. When you come to Service World, you become better at convincing your team of the need for training in your shop.

 

  1. You will have networking opportunities with the best contractors and consultants in the industry.

In addition to the seminars, the breaks, and the show, Service World has networking time built in and encourages it. There are after hour events where the atmosphere is relaxed and conducive to meeting new people. Even if you’re shy and networking is not your strength, there are enough contractors and consultants present who are the opposite to guarantee you will make new friends and new connections, who can help your business throughout the year.

Canadian contractor, Joe Gerolami posted a message on Facebook asking for people to share how they met him. I was stunned at the number of people who met Joe at a contractor meeting. Joe is certainly not shy, but neither is he a guy who enters a room and calculates how much time he can spend with each person if he wants to shake hands with everyone. You will make connections. Moreover, you will make connections across the United States, Canada, and Australia.

 

  1. You don’t know what you don’t know.

People ask me what they will learn at Service World. I don’t know. But I know they will learn something to make it worthwhile.

I never know what I’m going to learn at a conference or trade show. If I knew, I might not attend. I go because I don’t know what I don’t know. As a curious person, I’m compelled to find out. This is why I’ve gone to and continue to attend industry trade shows in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. I don’t know what I don’t know and I want to find out what that is.

Today, it’s more important than ever to discover what you do not know. Because of the Internet, the world seems to be changing all around us every day. You have to keep up. You have to stay on top of it.  Sometimes the only way to know what to pay attention to is to attend an event like Service World where there will be thoughtful people who have waded through the sea of noise and identified the real threats and opportunities that can affect your business going forward.

 

  1. You will have fun.

Finally, you will have fun. It’s fun to hang out with other contractors and industry leaders. It’s fun to be in Las Vegas. Even if you don’t gamble (I don’t), there are fun things to do. I like Red Rock Canyon, Valley of the Fire, Mt Charleston, and the Lee Canyon Ski Area. If you do not have fun… well, it’s your own fault. After all, it’s Vegas baby!

 

You can register for Service World Expo 2018 by following the link to the Service World Expo homepage. You will be asked to list information such as name, company, title, area, etc. You can also add other attendees and finish with summary and billing. Once registered, download our Service World Expo app where you can explore, play our game to win the Augustus suite, and schedule meetings with consultants, other attendees, and exhibitors. This opportunity is too good to miss! We’ll see you in Las Vegas!

How to Make Facebook Work for You!

By Chris Hunter

Try Facebook with your business they say, it’ll work great! So you try it and it stinks. You post and get three likes. One was you, your mom, and someone who accidentally hit the like button while scrolling.

What are you doing wrong? Why can some have great results and you try it and nothing happens? Facebook has an algorithm that can make or break your page. I put together some best practice tips based on information from Facebook for my team recently and decided to share with you!

Page likes

First, you have to get people to like the page. You can’t have 10 people who are fans of your page and expect to get reach. Facebook has a paid promotion you can do to target people who are in your area and likely to “like” your page. It’s extremely effective. Also, encourage all your team members to go on and like your page and “invite friends”. The invite friends function is something I encourage everyone to do often.

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It’s about engagement

You can have what you think is the best content in the world or the funniest meme ever, but whenever you post content that doesn’t get much social interaction, Facebook essentially lowers your rating. Every time you have something that isn’t interacted with, your algorithm score goes down. You can even get your score so low that it’s very hard to organically crawl back out of it. When this happens, you will have to pay to promote your post to get anyone to see it. If you wouldn’t walk up to someone and say what you post on your page, then it’s not being social! Ask questions and post content that engages with your audience. It’s a two-way conversation between you and your customers. What an opportunity to talk with the people who do business with you every day! In the business manager section, you can see statistics on engagement for your posts, plus who is engaging so you can better craft future posts toward your target audience. For example, I can see that women between the age of 35-44 in Ardmore, Oklahoma are the most engaged with our page. If I was doing a paid ad, I may want to only target women in that age group to get the most return on my advertising investment.

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Be Authentic

The key to earning customer’s trust is being social with them and show the human side of your business. It’s a chance to showcase how hard you work at all hours, all of the nice compliments you receive, your families, your funny faults, specials exclusively for Facebook customers, charity work, your real-life situations that they can relate to, any continuing education and how much, how you keep customer’s comfortable, and how you save them money.  Once trust is earned, they will have you top of mind the next time they are in need. The more they see you going above and beyond, the stronger the bond becomes. People want to do business with people they trust and know! Don’t be afraid to cross your personal posts with your business posts either. People will associate you with your business, so be mindful of what you are posting. Be authentic!

 

VIDEO

Video is where it’s at! Adam Mosseri, head of News Feed with Facebook recently wrote, “Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos.”

Use live video and be sure to interact with your audience. Show them what you are working on, what’s going on at the office, ask questions, interact, and make it fun! It is SOCIAL media! How about taking a live video as one of your technicians goes into an attic? It’s something your customers don’t see every day and it will generate interest! I also think you should utilize video to tell your brand’s story. What’s your mission for being in business and what do your customers need to know about you and the company? Tell it on video!

Here is a recent sample showing the types of post that get the most engagement for one of our Hunter Super Techs pages. Video is the clear winner!

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Frequency & Time

How much should you post and when? According to a best practice study by NULOU, posting a minimum of three times a week and no more than ten times per week is acceptable. How often do you post with your personal page? Think about that as well. Just be social without being annoying. The best time to post is when your audience is available. Using the Facebook business manager, it shows me that my audience is most engaged between 7:00 – 9:00 PM. By no surprise, it shows almost all are engaged daily. Very few people take a day off of social media. Try interacting and posting when your customers are available. It will pay off.

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Things to Avoid

Don’t use ‘engagement-bait’ to goad people into interacting. Facebook has said they will demote these in Newsfeeds. “Like this page and share it” are sayings you should not do. Don’t post things that could damage the company’s reputation! If it doesn’t line up with the company’s core values, don’t share it with the world! It never goes away.

Don’t use the same text over and over or share content that has been circulated.

Don’t make a lot of text only posts.

Don’t argue with customers on posts or bash a competitor! That actually is engagement so it will start to show up on more newsfeeds. Not what you want.

 

Boosted Posts & Ads

Boosting and targeting ads are extremely effective. This is how you can be in front of your customer day and night. You can even create custom audiences by uploading your customer list. Facebook will find them, plus find people who have the same demographic as your list. It’s very powerful. I do believe you should work with a professional to make sure they are done correctly and targeting the audience you want. Otherwise, you could spend lots of money with little to no return. Promoted posts and ads are not only an awesome way to target your audience, but also target and engage potential people to join your team! If you aren’t spending some of your advertising budget on social media marketing, you need to rethink your strategy. There are numerous tools you can use including promote local business, creating offers, publish job posts, get phone calls, bookings, page likes and website visits, create events, start a survey poll, and much more! Take the time to invest in learning or partner with an expert to help take your local marketing to the next level!  Facebook can work for you!

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Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These group of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area!

Profit First: Taming Your Money-Gobbling Monster

By Lynn Wise

Are you familiar with Profit First? It’s something I explored in my previous article, but even if you didn’t read it, you may have heard of this revolutionary approach to cash flow. Based on the best-selling book by Mike Michalowicz, Profit First presents a simple way to rethink your business accounting. While the conventional cash flow formula is revenues minus expenses equals profit, Profit First offers a subtle tweak: Revenues minus profits equals expenses.

In other words, it’s an accounting paradigm in which you set aside profits from each bank deposit you make, and only then do you pay the bills. It forces entrepreneurs to proactively set aside real cash earnings, and it can transform any business from a money-gobbling monster into a profit-generating machine.

In short, it’s all about taming the beast that is your business—but where to start, exactly?

 

Understanding the Problem

It’s probably fair to say that most business owners review their income statements infrequently. Chances are, you simply don’t have the time to review your important financial documents every single day, and that’s okay! But you probably do check your bank account daily—if only to make sure you’ve still got enough in the reserves to cover the day’s operational expenses.

This is human nature: We want to know what’s happening now, at this very moment, and to make our decisions based on that snapshot of information. There’s actually a psychological term for this tendency; it’s called the Recency Effect. This is the human inclination to overemphasize the right now. This practice of making financial decisions based solely on the current account statements is also called Bank Balance Accounting.

Bank Balance Accounting is common, but also problematic. It’s all but impossible to make real long-term plans or to prepare our companies for growth when all we’re looking at is today’s balance. Business owners who rely on Bank Balance Accounting tend to fall into the Survival Trap—not necessarily working toward a vision or a long-term goal, but simply doing whatever’s required to keep their business afloat in the here-and-now.

The other piece of the puzzle is GAAP, or Generally Accepted Accounting Practices. It is the paradigm that most small businesses use, and the one that often goes hand-in-hand with Bank Balance Accounting. GAAP simply refers to that conventional formula discussed earlier—Sales minus expenses equals profits.

GAAP makes logical sense. What it suggests is that we should sell as much as possible, spend as little as possible, then pocket the difference. The math checks out! The problem here is human nature. We’re not logical creatures and GAAP may make numerical sense, but it hardly makes “human sense.” All too often, GAAP manifests as an obsessive desire to sell more and more, to make your company bigger and bigger, improving top-line revenues and hoping that translates into a big increase in profit. Again, it’s not really a visionary approach. It’s all about doing something now to keep the company afloat. But the real problem is that, as we grow our businesses and making them bigger and better, it causes operational expenses to balloon. The more we make, the more we spend. Essentially, there’s nothing left to claim as profit.

 

A New Way to Consider Your Business’s Financial Health

In short, what business owners need is a way to monitor the financial health of their business while also working toward real, long-term growth solutions. Profit First provides exactly that, and it does so in a way that uses our natural human behaviors advantageously. In fact, Profit First actually encourages business owners to continue with their Bank Balance Accounting habits!

Maybe you’re ready to get started with Profit First and learn how you can actually be smart about generating business profits. I can recommend a few action steps: Draw a line in the sand today and commit to taming your money-gobbling monster. No more paycheck-to-paycheck living. No more survival mode. Make real growth your goal!

A Certified Profit First Professional that is knowledgeable about home services businesses can coach you on the best approach—how to tame your beast and turn into a cash generator. Ask your Profit First Professional about taking an Instant Assessment, which can provide you with some specific numbers and calculations as you rethink your business accounting practices.

Your company may seem untamable, but Profit First can work for any business—assuming you pursue it with the right coaching. Take a minute to seek a Certified Profit First Professional today!

 

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These group of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area!