Employee Social Media Policy to Stay Above the Fray

Online, more and more, you see comments and posts that you may not agree with.

Unfortunately, some of these remarks are made by your employees. You can’t control what your employees say on Facebook or any other social site, but you can help them post wisely. Because what they post can have an impact on your business.

As a company owner, what are the best ways to protect your company’s reputation from the personal beliefs of your employees?

I reached out to Ian Scho-tan-us of Big Picture Consulting. Anyone who has been on any of the myriads of contractor support groups on Facebook knows Ian as ‘The HR Guy’. He has 12+ years of experience in the industry and is considered an expert in the fields of HR, Safety, and Payroll Compliance. What I also like about Ian is he understands what the contractor is going through; he knows the difficulty in retaining good, quality employees, so his insights and suggestions are reflective of those challenges. Ian emphasized that you do not want to limit your employees’ personal freedoms, but you NEED them to realize how their actions can affect your business. He stressed that company culture should be a factor in all aspects of your business, and your company culture should guide your employees in their actions.

Company culture can be defined as the shared values, goals, attitudes, and practices that characterize a business. It is the way people feel about what they do, the principles they believe in, where they see the company going, and what they are doing to get it there.

Company culture is the key for businesses to operate with purpose. They drive the shared culture of you and your employees. However, each employee also has their own values. These may be based on their upbringing, education, and their social environment. Differences between corporate and personal values are not new, but the popularity of social media can make them more obvious.

Outlining basic guidelines that create a level of respect for the company, your customers, and other employees is beneficial. These include:

  • Do not speak negatively about the business, its staff, or customers.
  • Company and customer confidentiality is essential.
  • Do not post harassing, hateful, or illegal content.


It is essential to help employees understand the possible risks associated with the use of social media. The questions below are beneficial to employees if they are questioning what to share on social media.

  • Does this relate to my work?
  • Does this conflict with my company’s values and culture?
  • Is it obvious that I am speaking for myself and not on behalf of my company?
  • Would I be comfortable sharing this with my boss or colleagues in person?
  • Could this have negative effects for myself or my company?


It should also be clear that employees are not evaluated for personal activities or opinions if they do not break the law, are not offensive to others or the company, and do not negatively refer to the company or working conditions.

Yes, your employees are active on Social Media. No, you cannot forbid them from discussing work. However, if you leverage the opportunity correctly, you may find that giving them reason to post the POSITIVE aspects of your company culture will help promote your business, assist in recruiting efforts, increase both employee and customer loyalty, and overall provide real-time validation to your Company Culture efforts!


Lynn Wise is the Founder and CEO of Contractor in Charge.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups 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.

The Market is Red Hot

Some Quick Points Regarding Today’s M&A Frenzy


To say that the first quarter of 2021 M&A activity within the residential service contracting trades is hot is an understatement. In fact, there has never been as much buying and selling going on within our industry! Not even the Consolidation Period of the late 1990’s compares to what is occurring today. HVAC and plumbing service contracting businesses are the thing with private equity investors and have been for a while now. As this trend continues, more and more investors are finding their way into our world.

What has changed in 2021 are the number of buyers jumping in on the action has as well as the flexibility of both the size of the businesses acquired and expansion into secondary markets. Whereas your business better produced $1M in EBITDA to attract a buyer in the past, I am seeing buyers consider businesses that produce less than $1M in EBITDA today. In the past, the less than $1M EBITDA was a no man’s land for finding qualified buyers, not so much today.

No one can predict when the heated interest in our industry will slack up; all we know is that at some point, the activity will morph back into a less frenzied pace. If you are a service contractor and you want to sell your business, now is the right time. Although there has never been a better time to negotiate with a buyer, a business owner should keep the following points in mind:

Although buyers are stretching for premium businesses, the highest offers are going to businesses with consistent double-digit earnings within markets that can facilitate growth. One exception might be smaller acquisition targets in markets that the buyer has already made a commitment (add-ons or tuck-ins).

Buyers may want you to roll a part of the proceeds back in the transaction which would make you a minority owner going forward. Retaining a minority ownership and continuing to grow your business under the support of private equity partners or new owner can be an excellent opportunity for you to enjoy what is referred to as the “second bite of the apple”. The second bite comes when the private equity partners grow and then sell their collection of businesses at a higher multiple than what you would be able to achieve for business alone. In many cases, retaining a minority interest of say 20% can result in a payday equal to or higher than when you sold the original 80%.

Understand the meaning of the word arbitrage. If a buyer has already put together a significant operating group, it is likely that they are able to sell that group for a multiple much higher than what your business, as it stands alone, can demand. What this means is that a buyer can stretch significantly as long as the arbitrage makes sense. The best way to explain this is by example. Assume a buyer pays you 8x for your business, and that buyer is able to then add your business into their group. Now assume their group collectively demands a 15x multiple – the arbitrage here is 7x earnings. The day the buyer purchases your business at 8x, they automatically can sell it for 15x. The magic of arbitrage is what is driving the impressive earnings multiples today.

Despite recent off-the-chart sales prices and other tales of great deals, a business owner must still understand the basic concepts of valuation, what builds value, and how earnings ultimately drive values and purchase prices. Make note there is a big difference between valuation and price, especially today. Understand valuation, but think price when it comes to selling. Consider a formal valuation, but be sure that the professional completing your valuation understands what is occurring in our industry at the moment.

Don’t be fooled into thinking everyone who contacts you via letter or telephone is a buyer or actually represents a buyer. With the interest in our industry, you are being bombarded by every investment banker and business broker who has ever turned down a thermostat. Many clients report they are contacted weekly by buyers, when in fact, the contacts are mostly from people looking to list and sell their business. This does not mean real buyers are not directly contacting business owners because they certainly are.

Don’t waste time on buyers who are not serious or incapable of completing a transaction. There are a lot of qualified buyers out there today. Potential buyers include private equity, strategic buyers, and individuals (to name a few). There are also a lot of time wasters. The quickest verification is to ascertain the capital a would-be buyer has to actually complete a transaction. Does a potential buyer have the capital, and if not, are they working with a lender such as Live Oak Bank (who specializes in lending within the service contracting industry)? Without the capital or without a plan to secure capital, whether conventional or SBA, the would-be buyer is just wasting your time. Another quick verification is whether or not the would-be buyer has a history of completing transactions.

Although you may have been contacted by a buyer and have received an offer, have you negotiated the best offer (counteroffer)? Are you prepared to navigate through due diligence, and have you fully negotiated the entire transaction? Although you may not require a business broker to find a buyer, you will still need a team to ensure that the transaction closes and closes for more money than the original offer. Consider a consultant who understands the M&A process, a good M&A attorney, and of course, your tax CPA. On the surface, nabbing a multi-million-dollar offer may seem simple, but in all actuality, the work has just begun. A good M&A consultant will have gone through the procedure many times before, understands both value and purchase price, and is able to guide you throughout the entire project. Many projects that I have taken part in over the last 24 months begin after the seller has been contacted by a buyer.

Do not discount the chances to sell your business just because it is relatively small or services a smaller market. I have assisted clients in transactions of all sizes over the last year, and I am finding more and more buyers for businesses with less than $4M in revenue. This is especially the case in hot markets where strategic buyers are frantically looking to “add-on” to already purchased businesses. I have even assisted a small HVAC contractor in a rural market recently that, up until now, I would have falsely concluded there was little chance of the business trading at what the buyer proposed. Again, we are in uncharted waters and the nets buyers are casting get wider and wider by the day.

In summary, the service contracting trades are hot today. The trend ends are unclear, but we can be certain that over time the frenzy will lighten up. However, prior to that, the opportunity to sell your business exists today regardless of size and to an extent, your geographic market. If you have been approached by a buyer or if you are considering taking advantage of the market, feel free to reach out to me and I will be able to provide further insight.


Brandon Jacobs is a CPA and operates Contractors Financial Opportunity, LLC. For more information, contact Brandon at Brandon@contractorscfo.com.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups 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.

Customer Experience with the “Wow” Factor

A question, a story, then another question…in a recent Service Roundtable Digest, Saturday Rabbit Hole, Dave Rothacker asked an interesting question: “How does a company like Amazon still continue to WOW its customers?” I think we may all have a story about ordering from Amazon and the ease of doing business with them. Here is an experience that Dave related in that Saturday Rabbit Hole:
“We ordered a $150.00 item that was never delivered, yet their records indicated it had been. I found the area on Amazon’s site to rectify the problem. There were a handful of options. I checked the box that was labeled “Did not receive order”. The next screen gave me two options: A refund or replacement. I chose replacement. Boom! Done. I had the item the next day. Talk about taking the friction out of your business!” Then another question from Dave: “Do you look for ways to take the friction out of your business?”

Great question, Dave! Now granted, running a contracting business is a lot different than buying something from Amazon, but there are still ways of making it easier for consumers to do business with us and take the friction out of the transactions. With internet research and online reviews, today’s consumer is well informed and very savvy. So, once you get a customer on board, you must meet, or better yet, exceed their expectations. Mediocre customer service, in many cases, is still the norm. That’s just doing enough to get by and finish the transaction. Good customer service may reach a customer’s expectations, but it’s not the unexpected WOW factor. That rare, yet welcomed, over-the-top customer service that blows away your expectations of mediocre or just good. The WOW factor is a warm, friendly feeling that makes it a joy to do business with.


The WOW factor starts with a basic understanding of the role of customer service. Contrary to some of the customer service experiences that I have had, the customer is not the enemy! They should be considered partners in a transaction where everyone wins. Customer service is the activity that we engage in to help our customers succeed in the process. The in-person interaction with our field people, over the phone with our call takers, office staff, and online activity should all be involved in delivering great customer service. Some companies focus on providing service after an initial transaction is made, while others believe that customer service is an essential element of the entire customer experience. Internal opinions aside, what’s more important is understanding how the people you serve define “customer service.” Just because you think your company provides great service is no guarantee that customers agree.


Making great customer service a top priority will help accelerate new business through referrals and guarantee repeat customers as well. After all, people don’t wake up in the morning thinking they would like to spend their hard-earned dollars on our product and services. But when that need arises, the WOW factor companies will win the business over the mediocre competition almost every time. Customer service then plays a key role in filling the gap between your services solutions and the consumer’s expectations. Customer satisfaction and the WOW factor lead to customer retention, more leads, more transactions, and awesome online and word-of-mouth referrals for your company. In short, excellent customer service gives customers that warm and happy feeling. Happy customers will get you more happy customers. It’s a cycle of happiness!


I’d like to distinguish customer service from customer support. Although they may be closely related, they’re not the same. Customer support is more operational in nature to address customer concerns and answer questions. Customer support team members spend their time responding to customer emails, answering phone calls, and resolving issues. The WOW factor here involves empathy and a sense of urgency. Customer support will influence the overall customer experience in a positive or negative way, where customer service goes well beyond the customer’s issues and concerns of the moment. Everyone on your team, installers, service technicians, office staff, and even back-office departments like accounting need to be trained on and have a firm grasp of excellence in customer service. Otherwise, unsatisfied customers may look to your competition for a more enjoyable customer experience.


Creating that customer service WOW factor is the responsibility of the entire company. It’s a culture and a big picture thing rather than a set process. It should not be overcomplicated. Don’t accept the mediocre as the status quo. Set the expectation with your team to always go above and beyond, even with the difficult customer. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you were on the receiving end of your company’s transaction, issue, or concern, how would you like to be treated, and what would WOW you? As long as it is ethical and legal, do that! Study what your customer complaints are, address them promptly, and continue to identify gaps in service that need attention and require training.


It’s also important to have open communication with your employees in a way they all understand that this is a team effort. It shouldn’t be one department against another. Team members should be comfortable reporting mistakes or issues that they have noticed without the feeling that they are getting another team member in trouble with the boss. This is dependent on how management handles these reported issues. If there is always a knee-jerk reaction to a problem with immediate disciplinary action, team members may be reluctant to report incidents. Or if management ignores reported issues hoping that they will go away or correct themselves, team members will feel that action is never taken, so why bother? Management should handle each reported incident as constructive criticism with empathy and take corrective measures to benefit that team member and the business. This is not to say that disciplinary action is never warranted, but as they say, it starts from the top. Management should be setting the example to exceed the team’s expectations as well, and they will follow suit when dealing with customers.


The foundation of WOWing your team and the customer starts with a smile. Smiling really can make people feel happier, according to a new paper published in Psychological Bulletin. Coauthored by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Texas A&M, the paper looked at nearly 50 years of data testing whether facial expressions can lead people to feel the emotions related to those expressions.


“Conventional wisdom tells us that we can feel a little happier if we simply smile. Or that we can get ourselves in a more serious mood if we scowl,” said Nicholas Coles, UT Ph.D. student in social psychology and lead researcher on the paper. Some studies have not found evidence that facial expressions can influence emotional feelings,” Coles said.” But we can’t focus on the results of any one study. Psychologists have been testing this idea since the early 1970s, so we wanted to look at all the evidence.”


Coles and his team combined data from 138 studies testing more than 11,000 participants from all around the world. According to the results, facial expressions have an impact on feelings. For example, smiling makes people feel happier, scowling makes them feel angrier, and frowning makes them feel sadder. “We don’t think that people can smile their way to happiness,” Coles said. “But these findings are exciting because they provide a clue about how the mind and the body interact to shape our conscious experience of emotion.”


In a recent article on smiling and happiness, KinderBrothers International posted, “If you want to be welcome everywhere, give every living soul you meet a smile, an honest-to-goodness smile, from down deep inside.” Research showed that smiling makes you feel better and is infectious to those around you, even those you are talking to over the phone.  In this article, KinderBrothers sums it up this way:


As you begin to develop a voice with a smile, consider the following:


  1. Research indicates that feelings follow action. Put this theory to the test: Practice smiling and see what follows.
  2. Studies have been conducted for years by telephone, and advertising companies that show the voice with a smile wins. Even in our high-tech culture, it still matters greatly about the voice on the other end of the line. Companies spend millions to have just the right voice on their automated systems.
  3. Smiling can be the start to cultivating happiness. We begin to expect good things to happen, and most of the time, they do. The voice with a smile almost always wins.


Work with your team to create that WOW factor for your customers and do it with a smile!


Steve Mores is the Vice President of Training and Sales at Dynamic Air Quality Solutions.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups 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.

Keys to a Successful Software Change

How to Motivate Your Team and Get the Most Out of New Technology


CHANGE. Ready or not, here it comes. Though typically easier said than done, change is essential in any business that intends to remain in business.

Companies aren’t recognized for staying ahead of the curve or trusted for their innovation by keeping to the status quo. However, nobody likes to talk about the hard parts of change and what it takes to implement it successfully.

Now, change itself isn’t so scary. What’s scary is the adaptation process, the frustration of the unfamiliar, the discomfort with something new and seemingly invasive, the risk of doing all this work for an unsatisfactory return. When it comes to managing change, particularly when it involves new technology, business leaders must be wary of what they’re getting themselves into.

Luckily, leaders need not fear, for there is a formula for successfully managing change in terms of implementing new software, driving adoption among your teams, and maximizing the return on your investment. With this plan in hand, you can be sure of what to expect (Step 1), put a reliable strategy in place (Step 2), and commit to a plan that gets everyone on board (Step 3).

Don’t fall into the trap of launching a new software platform, process, or technology that you know will improve your business, only to roll it back a few months later. Instead, guide your team into the future with confidence and ease.


Have A Game Plan

Once you know what to expect, you’ve got to have a plan to navigate these stages and work towards optimization of your new technology. Having a game plan complete with the right tools, training, and support will go far in mitigating fears and setting employees up for a successful transition.

Training will have a particularly profound impact on employee adoption. First of all, it facilitates bottom-up engagement. Rather than just taking top-down orders, employees feel like they are supported and counted on for their contribution to a successful implementation.

However, the benefits of effective training go well beyond employee attitudes and adoption. By taking the time to train your staff, you’re able to fully realize the depth and capabilities of your new technology. Regular employee input during this time will reveal all sorts of unique applications and use cases that your leadership team may not even realize.

In other words, thoroughly support your staff (your most important asset) in their transition, and as a natural result, you’ll get the most out of your investment. Thorough support begins with thoroughly planned training, and it’s important to have that in place before taking on a new implementation.

According to research by Prosci, proper change management increases the likelihood of meeting business objectives (on time and within budget) six-fold — as opposed to implementing a change without adequate management of it. As Reno says, If you spend a little more time upfronteverything else goes fasterYou end up spending less time overall if you do more work upfront.”


Identify Your Training Goals & Timeline

As far as goals go, number one is to keep time lost during the transition to a minimum. In order to achieve this, there should be a strategy in place to train employees to do their jobs as efficiently as prior to the new system implemented. From there, support your employees in leveraging the new system to their own advantage. Successful adoption relies on them recognizing the value and reaping the personal rewards outside of how the business is benefitting. Incorporate training early on that specifically demonstrates the higher efficiency possible for employees, and with that, the increase of time available for them to reach more customers, close more deals, work at higher quality, etc.

Throughout your planning, set realistic expectations regarding your group’s technical skills, the technical requirements or complexity of the new technology, and the extent of change that your staff will be experienced in going from one way of doing things to a whole new system.


Honor Different Learning Styles

As you’re evaluating employees’ skills and tech-savviness, consider dividing them into two groups before proceeding with training: those to whom new technology will come pretty naturally and those who will need some extra time and support. By separating the two, you’ll be able to tailor each of their training programs to best suit their needs and get everyone on the same page.

The fast-paced group can move straight to training on the more technical aspects of the technology, while the others can take the time they require to focus on the basics — everyone has to start somewhere, and it’s better for everyone if that’s accepted on the front end. Even though the groups will be moving at different paces, the other benefit to this is that the more advanced group will soon be able to help bring others up to speed.


Diversify Your Training Methods

Everyone has different learning styles, but conveniently, there are several training methods for new software implementations available to leverage. It’s best to use a strategic mix of methods in order to have the furthest reach across a diverse group of learners. It also helps to have multiple opportunities for learning in general — effective training is not just a one-and-done situation.

Some of these training methods include, but are not limited to:

• Training by the software/technology provider 

• Classroom-based training

• Interactive or on-the-job training

• Training the trainer

• Access to training portal with how-to videos and other ad hoc resources


There tends to be a huge missed opportunity for companies when it comes to training resources simply because they don’t know what to ask for, what they should expect, or what tools are even available to them. Knowing this ahead of time, make sure you speak openly with your provider on the front end about what sort of training they offer and even for client success stories, as these will help guide your own training strategies.

Empowering your staff to embrace change means arming them with the resources they need to make the most of it and leads to achieving optimal ROI.

Effecting change in your business doesn’t have to be synonymous with chaos and unease. There will be rough patches, but preparation, planning, and empathy are what will propel your team through the process. The keys to success? Know what to expect, have a well-designed plan in place, and stay committed to the charge. When done correctly, the effort on all parts will have been worth it, and the team and outcomes will be better off because of it.


Commit, Don’t Quit

One cannot be successful at something on which they don’t take action. Action gets results, so it’s just a matter of steering your actions in the right direction and staying the course. Like the rest of humanity, your employees are creatures of habit, and because of that, you can’t expect change to be welcomed with open arms. No matter how in-tune you are to your team’s state of mind, change and the hard work that comes with it will be met with resistance. That being said, set your direction, and remain committed to the plan, and make the transition necessary to hit the goals you were after in the first place. When it’s time for implementation, consider the following tactics to get the team on board and as excited as you are.


Top-Down Teamwork

Fostering an inclusive work environment is crucial to overcoming the challenges that come with learning a new system, and it starts all the way at the top. Management and their teams should feel as if they are in this together and can rely on one another to help get all parties up to speed. To do this effectively, provide your management team with delegated training and support to build confidence in your initiatives.


Champions for the Cause

You’re going to need some champions on your side. Leverage key staff members and department leads by convincing them of the benefits brought on by the new system. When they see how it benefits them, they will work hard on your behalf to convince the folks in their respective departments to get on board with it as well.


Hope for The Best, Expect the Worst

We just dedicated a whole section to have a plan, but it’s important to reiterate the impact a strong strategy has on the success of a change initiative. Consider all the obstacles you might encounter, and plan ahead for how those will be handled swiftly, and ideally, how you can avoid them altogether. Too many bumps in the road during a delicate transition period will quickly wear down the confidence your team has in both the process and the finished product.


Clear Communication

In order to deal with concerns, conflicts, and misunderstandings in the most productive way, keep your eyes and ears open. Listen to your people. They will undoubtedly have something to say, and they want to feel that their words are valued. Their feedback is necessary to uncover the strengths and weaknesses of the training you’re putting them through. Having this transparent feedback loop will enable you and the vendor to address issues quickly and keep your implementation timeline on track.


Incentives: AKA What’s In It For Me?

This will be the second question employees ask when they’re notified of coming change, with the first being, “Why?” The “why” is easier to answer because it’s the reasoning behind making the change to begin with. In reality, though, that’s not really your staff’s primary concern. They want to know what it is about this new system that’s going to benefit them. If they have to change the way they do things, what’s in it for them?

For everyone to commit to making the transition, you have to make sure each employee knows how they personally stand to benefit from it. If you can paint a picture for them that demonstrates the ways in which this will make their job easier, faster, more lucrative, etc., you’ll be setting yourself up for success with adoption. And along the way, don’t forget to have fun and recognize the folks who are out there embracing change and crushing it. Pizza parties and ice cream go a long way, but there’s even opportunity here for promotions and new titles as well.


Every business and technology is different. There’s no one right, simple answer for how to manage change across the board, but it does boil down to three main objectives to keep in mind. Know what you’re getting yourself, your business, and your employees into — before getting into it; plan strategically in order to handle the change that’s coming, and commit to the plan you’ve made and the goals you’ve set with the support of your team beside you.


Cydney Myers is the Marketing Manager for XOi Technologies.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups 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.