Luck in Business

As a lifelong Chicago White Sox fan, I paced my living room floor on April 14th of this year, watching the 9th inning of the Cleveland Indians vs. the White Sox. The Sox were winning 8 – 0, so what’s the big deal? Why was I so nervous? It’s just the 9th inning of a regular-season game with an eight-run lead. Well, Carlos Rodón was pitching for the White Sox with a perfect game going into the 9th inning. With another three up and three down inning, Rodón would go into the record books as one of the few pitchers in baseball history who pitched a perfect game.

What made this even more exciting and special was that Rodón suffered from shoulder and elbow injuries, and in May of 2019, he underwent Tommy John surgery. He’s pitched just 42 innings the past two years and wasn’t even guaranteed a spot in the White Sox rotation this season.

I can’t do justice to the play-by-play, so if any baseball fans want to watch the exciting last inning, here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxDQocUOvk8

Meanwhile, the first out was an exciting play at first where the batter was out by a fraction of an inch, only confirmed by slow-motion replay. The second Cleveland batter went to a 0 – 2 count, then Rodón hit him with a pitch! There goes the perfect game! Rodón then got the next two batters out and finished the game with a no-hitter.

Was this luck? Obviously not. Luck is winning the lottery. Pitching a perfect game or a no-hitter in the MLB takes years of practice, dedication, and challenges to meet along the way to realize that dream.

I would suggest that the same goes for us in the contracting business. Successful contractors don’t get there by luck. It’s their hard work, dedication, and passion. And after over 30 years of partnering with, training, and consulting with contractors, I have observed several common denominators that most successful contractors have.

 

  • They have a dream and realize it. These contractors have a vision of where they want to be, the type of company culture they want to build and realize it by taking action to make it happen.
  • They have challenges and meet them head-on. Just because you dream, it doesn’t mean that you will not run into challenges along the way. They don’t ignore these challenges and hope they go away. They meet challenges and focus on solutions so they can continue the journey of realizing their goals.
  • They act when opportunities are presented and benefit from them. When an opportunity presents itself to improve or expand the business, they turn that opportunity into a business reality. There isn’t any coulda, shoulda, woulda going on here.
  • They stand by their promises. When they enter into agreements or partnerships with staff, suppliers, or any business relationship, they always fulfill these promises. If circumstances arise that challenge the stipulations of the promise, successful contractors always discuss it openly with the parties involved to arrive at a mutually beneficial solution.
  • They look at business as an adventure. It’s not just a job, rather an adventure that they dare to take. They know they will have struggles, yet they accept this, and it doesn’t deter them from their mission.
  • They are strategic. Successful contractors have a plan and execute it every day. They avoid knee-jerk reactions by having a business plan and make decisions based on set goals and a mission statement. Risk-taking comes into play here, but with full awareness of the likely consequences.
  • They are honest and ethical. Fair and honest decisions are made based on their plan. They treat their employees and customers like family by running their business with a code of ethics that all employees are aware of and are expected to follow.
  • They WOW their customers. They create a company culture where everybody is involved in servicing the customer to exceed all expectations. From the CSRs to the service call and from curb to collect, a first-class customer experience is delivered by all team members.
  • They don’t go it alone. Successful contractors surround themselves with people who are better at specific tasks and duties than they may be. They get the right people on the bus, in the right positions, motivate them, and hold them accountable.
  • They have Faith. And speaking of not going it alone, they have faith in themselves, their team, and God. They prayerfully seek guidance, give thanks, and utilize their God-given talents and tools for the service of others.

 

I’m sure you can add to this list based on your personal experience or from your observations of other successful people that you know. But I would venture to say that “Luck in Business” isn’t on your list either.

Meanwhile, back to baseball. In the movie A League of Their Own, manager Jimmy Dugan, played by Tom Hanks, has that famous (or infamous) line, “There’s no crying in baseball!” Well, while there may be some trials, tribulations, and tears along the way, “There’s no luck in business!” Luck is an abstract concept that can become a physical reality with hard work, determination, passion, and a plan. You must make luck happen; it’s not a given.

Good Luck!

 

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.

Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

Listen Here

Applying Microlearning to Technician Training

Even before the pandemic, remote and online education and training methods had begun to make huge strides and increase in popularity. So, it came as no surprise that 2020 caused the adoption of online learning platforms and materials to skyrocket as the pandemic halted most in-person activities.

With this rise in remote online education, microlearning emerged as a highly effective teaching method in both learning and business environments. As a result, the adoption of microlearning training techniques has grown in popularity across many industries, and the trades are no exception.

 

So, What the Heck is Microlearning?

While you won’t find a formal definition for microlearning in the dictionary, the term has become widely popular in schools and businesses alike. Microlearning refers to consuming small “bite-sized” amounts of content that are ideally suited for skills training. The goal is to deliver brief, instructional pieces of training material that a learner can easily retain and consume at their convenience.

 

Common Forms of Microlearning

These bite-sized chunks of learning material can be delivered in several forms, but a few reign supreme.

  1. Simple, concise text (a few short sentences)
  2. Instructional pictures/photos
  3. Quick video snippets
  4. Recorded audio
  5. Learning activities/games

 

Numbers Don’t Lie

So, why is microlearning so popular? Because it’s proven to be more effective for today’s learners. This style of training and learning continues to grow in popularity as studies show that both students and employees are more receptive and likely to retain shorter, more concise educational and training materials. The stats:

  1. A recent study by the Journal of Applied Psychology found that microlearning makes the transfer of learning 17% more efficient.
  2. A report by Software Advice found that microlearning can increase employee engagement with learning tools by more than 50%.
  3. A study out of the University of California-Irvine found that learning in stretches of three to seven minutes matches the working memory capacity and attention spans of humans.

 

How Does This Apply to the Trades?

It’s no secret that the trade industry is facing a knowledge and skill gap. The BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook tells a scary story of upcoming shortages in skilled tradespeople through the year 2028. But, while the growing number of job vacancies in the trades may look grim, the good news is that help is in the pipeline.

The New York State Department of Labor projects significant growth in high-paying skilled occupations through 2024. Another report found that California is expected to spend more than $200 million a year creating and improving career technical education programs to meet the state’s need for trades workers.

As the skilled trade industry begins to attract a new and younger generation of workers, we’ll have to turn to new and innovative methods to educate and train this fresh crop of young technicians.

Cue microlearning.

 

Microlearning – Your Techs’ New Best Friend

The trades are the perfect setting for microlearning – both in terms of process training and equipment education. Microlearning is geared toward skill training. It breaks down the procedures that a technician should follow while on the job into short, easily digestible chunks of content that can help them develop their skills more quickly.

Now, we’re not saying to replace formal technician training with YouTube videos. Instead, we suggest incorporating certain aspects of microlearning into your regular training and on-the-job procedures.

 

Example One – Equipment Training

When training a technician on a complex piece of equipment, you probably don’t expect them to master and understand the specifics of servicing the unit in one go. That amount of technical training and information would likely go over any new tech’s head.

Instead, more efficient use of time is to divide training on that unit into smaller segmented sections. These sections can be made up of in-person training sessions, instructional videos, written materials, etc., that can be delivered over a specific period of time or accessed at the technician’s convenience. This allows the technician to quickly master a smaller component or procedure for this piece of equipment then move on until they master the entire unit or repair.

 

Example Two – Process Training

The goal of any service company is to provide quality service on every job. Creating and ensuring a high standard of service is the best way for service companies to differentiate their business and retain and attract customers.

Quality control is key, and technology can be a huge asset to service providers looking to ensure and monitor the quality of work their technicians provide. For example, implementing a technology solution that arms technicians with automated step-by-step checklists of the processes they are required to follow on the job ensures that each completed job meets the same standards.

Microlearning can be incorporated into these step-by-step checklists or workflows through the addition of instructional text, videos, photos, etc. By including bite-sized instructions to each step, you can ensure that each technician completes and documents every step properly.

 

Example Three – Collaborating Outside Your Organization

Whether you work with one or multiple tiers across an organization, utilizing technology to create a ‘partner network’ can extend the process standardization and microlearning capabilities outlined in Example Two to the organizations, affiliations, and groups you and your techs work with together.

Multi-channel workflows allow you to share processes, content, training tips, and best practices with any OEMs, distributors, peer groups, dealers, technicians, and subcontractors you may work with. Because this extends the step-by step-checklists from Example Two outside of your organization, the microlearning instructional bits of content become exponentially more important in explaining and ensuring everyone understands the processes they must follow.

 

Example Four – Technician Support & Troubleshooting

Too often, when a technician runs into a problem in the field or a job ends up being outside their skill set, they are forced to call in backup, resulting in a second truck roll. This scenario is inconvenient for everyone as it costs the provider more time and money.

Technology and microlearning can help service providers avoid second truck rolls in a couple of different ways.

  • Reference job history – Allows the tech to easily reference past jobs on a specific or similar unit, reviewing any notes, photos, and even videos previous technicians may have left.
  • Easily searchable knowledge base – Technology arms the tech with a growing library of relevant equipment information, diagrams, manuals, training videos, and wireframes. From there, the tech can easily search for a specific unit or problem type to help them learn while on the job.
  • Remote video training & troubleshooting – Real-time remote video calling allows the tech to reach a more experienced technician for a quick and remote training and troubleshooting session. This helps avoid a second truck roll and helps the technician learn while on the job.

 

Keep Things Short & Simple

The key trend with microlearning is keeping learning sessions and training materials brief and easily digestible. For greener technicians in the field and office, this type of bite-sized training and learning is perfect as it can tailor it to their specific learning and working needs.

 

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.

Count Your Blessings

We all have heard the expression: “You should count your blessings.” This phrase is used in several different contexts. Someone may express this sentiment when something good happens to you: “That’s great news; you should count your blessings.” When something upsetting happens to you: “I’m sorry to hear that, but it could be worse, you should count your blessings.” Or even when something bad happens to someone else: “It’s so sad what happened to them, we should count our blessings.” There are even certain times of the year when we are asked to stop and think about all the things that make us happy or bring us joy.

Every fourth Thursday in November, we celebrate Thanksgiving, which is when many of us count our blessings. Yet do we need to wait for a holiday to give thanks and count our blessings? Is this just a saying, or should we really take it literally? I would suggest that when we count our blessings, we note all the wonderful things in our lives. Write a list, a gratitude list, if you will that helps us to appreciate how good life is and read it daily. Start your day out with gratitude!

It’s better not to take our blessings for granted or wait for a holiday to celebrate them. When we take something for granted, we tend not to appreciate it. So, let’s take a step back and consider what a blessing really is.

In our secular world, a blessing is considered something that brings us happiness or helps us somehow. To religious people, a blessing is approval and help from a higher source, that being God. A blessing can also be a sign of approval when someone permits you to do something. “You have my blessing to do so…” Counting all these blessings is important. It shows that you are grateful and are expressing a feeling of appreciation or thanks. When we count our blessings, we can say it like this: “I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for my friends. I am thankful for my health.”

Other forms of “blessings” are expressed as “the little things in life” or the “small blessings,” “a mixed blessing,” or a “blessing in disguise.”

Let’s say you get angry because your car won’t start, and you start thinking of all the negative ramifications it may cause. But then you stop for a moment and think, “Well, at least I have a car. I should consider myself lucky and give thanks for small blessings.”

Another small blessing is a fun thing known as “Pay it forward.” Paying it forward is expressed when the beneficiary of a good deed is repaying the kindness to others instead of the original benefactor. Paying someone’s toll or buying a cup of coffee for the person behind you is a common example. Small acts of kindness, like paying forward, can really make someone’s day and can be added to their gratitude list for the day!

Not all blessings are that simple and easy to recognize. Some are more complex than others, like “mixed blessings.” A mixed blessing is something that is both good and bad. For example, being a rock star can be a mixed blessing. On the one hand, they are treated as a celebrity with special perks, benefits, and financial rewards. On the other hand, they may lose their privacy, be more susceptible to addictive behavior, and feel pressured to produce that next hit song to keep their status. In the case of mixed blessings, focusing on the good and avoiding the bad can be a blessing in and of itself.

Another type of blessing is what we call “A blessing in disguise.” It is a little more complicated than a mixed blessing can be. This is where the blessing is hidden or “disguised” in a bad event or situation that we may have experienced. It refers to something that at first appears to be bad or unlucky but is actually good.

For example, someone losing their job turned out to be a blessing in disguise when it forced her to start a business that became very successful and that she loves and is passionate about.

As you can see, there are many types of blessings that we can be grateful for every day. Yet sometimes, it’s hard to focus on these blessings when we are bombarded every day with predominately negative news. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be concerned with local, national, and worldly events. We can’t just bury our heads in the sand, but it gives us all the more reason to count our blessings!

So, this does take some effort and deliberate concentration on the good in our lives and the world around us. Whether the blessings are small, mixed, or disguised – they all count! And while this may all seem elementary, I thought we could all use a reminder to count our blessings. I know I do!

 

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.

Summer’s Coming – Don’t Get Busy

Hiring and Firing Customers.

Raise your hand with me, if you will…come on, now…do you get stuck in the mindset and bad HABIT of feeling like you have to serve every customer that calls in and requests your company’s services?

We know that the value of just one customer is great, but are there customers that exist that actually decrease value? Over the past three years, the contractor/customer relationship has changed drastically. The demand for speed and convenience alone has changed the landscape, not to mention transactional differences, and with more and more technicians going out on their own these days, profit is harder to make. Profit can be made in this industry, but it can also be forfeited for the missionary mandate of serving all in need. Let me give you some of the greatest advice that my contractor dad shared with me: You do not have to help every customer that calls in; you can say no. And as a matter of fact, saying yes to every caller is a bad habit – businesses are built and torn down by something as small as a habit.

I get that our need to help and find solutions is why we do what we do, but to serve our communities at the expense of our business is not why we started our companies. When we realize that we do not have to provide service to everyone, we become empowered to begin building the type of customer base that allows us to succeed and enjoy the experience.

THE CALL

How many times have you heard on the other end of the line, “Do you treat all of your customers like that? You’re not much of a businessman, are you?” or “You won’t last long.” How about this one?  “Well, you know you are legally required to run the service calls in the order that you get them.” Yes, this happened to us in our contracting business. Some people believe that your service is simply there to serve them the exact way they want. We say, “The customer is always right,” but what we should say is, “The customer we choose to give service to because of mutual respect and clear expectations is always right.” There’s a big difference. And the big difference is that we retain and please the customers we want, and in return, they choose to keep us as their service provider.

 

THE SELECTION PROCESS

How exactly do we choose them? With spring coming to an end and summer upon us, as the phone calls begin to pour in, how do we stop from getting so busy and covered up with too many of the ‘maybe good, maybe bad’ customers? How do we change the habit?

  • First, write out your ideal customer profile and be sure to include the neighborhoods they live in. (Example: homeowner, ages 45 & up, multiple systems in their home, 90210 zip code)
    1. I’m kidding about that 90210 zip code. Our ideal customers don’t all need to live in Beverly Hills, but we need to target neighborhoods that we want to be working in – these neighborhoods may be near elementary schools, suburbs, or golf courses.
  • Second, tag all existing customers if they match that profile. Don’t forget that many of your existing customers are ones you want to keep.
  • Third, stop giving your resources and attention to customers that don’t fit the bill. Does this mean you stop giving them service altogether? Not necessarily. But what this does mean is to stop trying to milk a cow that has no milk.

After you make your profile:

  1. Scan your customer database and make some cuts.
  2. Focus on who you already have, and then plan to become more intentional with these customers.
  3. Make contact immediately.

Current customers are the easiest and most affordable way to re-energize your services. Adams Hudson, a friend and fellow consultant, says, “The reason most of them (55%) leave you is due to your perceived indifference. They think you don’t care whether they stay or not! How could you possibly allow that perception to go unchallenged?” Contact your most valuable assets! No excuses. This contact might include any of the following:

  • Multiple postcards a year
  • Thank-you cards after service calls
  • A few non-sales-y phone calls a year
  • A monthly newsletter
  • Four gifts a year (magnets, cups, pens, t-shirts, etc.)

It doesn’t take a large budget to be intentional with your priority one customers. Even the smallest gesture can make a large ripple and put you back in their top-of-mind Rolodex. Then, focus on the new. Go out and get those new priority customers. You will need to focus on filling the spaces you emptied to make room for the best. Use the same profile you used with your existing customers. Before you know it, your customer list will be full of profit-making names, and the relationship you have with those customers will be part of the reason you stay in business with each new year.

 

P.S. This is an oldie but a goodie; check out this ‘Creative Call-Taking’ video for more on how to prioritize when you get busy this summer! https://youtu.be/wf-6GBJvNRU

 

Danielle Putnam is the President of The New Flat Rate and on the Advisory Board of Women in HVACR.

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.

Trust Equity

 

During a recent business trip with Carlos, one of my IAQ Training Reps, we talked about a subject that he is very interested and involved in, that being the board gaming industry. I know next to nothing about it, yet I was intrigued by its complexity and the number of games and gamers that are involved in this industry. I realized through our conversation that to develop a new game that will be popular with the gamers, that A LOT of time, money, and computer know-how is involved in creating and developing these games. Carlos said that a lot of companies use Kickstarter as a platform. The investment developing these games comes from the gamer investors, and their own money is at risk. The term used to say that a project has met its goal is “funded.” So, if the company raises enough money to meet its funding goal, it’s been funded. Sounds simple enough, yet there is risk involved in the board gaming world to get investment capital. The funding in these games is used to front the production costs of making the game. They use fancy marketing techniques and make all kinds of promises with hopes to deliver a high-quality product in the end. However, over the years, people (gamers in this case) have been burned with subpar production (graphic design, art, components, etc.), broken or unreadable rules, or not delivering a final product at all. This issue creates a little anxiety about backing a particular product so early in the life cycle of the product. To minimize their risk, investors look for companies that consistently deliver on their promises. They call this trust equity.

In the gaming investment industry, trust equity increases and comes into play (no pun intended) as the same companies consistently deliver on their promises. They no longer have that anxiety and will gladly back their next project. They’ve built enough trust equity where some game developing companies get instantly backed, while others struggle to get funded. Now, that equity can diminish if the next project doesn’t deliver.

How can you build this trust equity with your clients? You must consistently deliver on your promise of excellence with the service and products that you provide. This starts with the trust factor being built into your company culture. And it must be consistent throughout your company, from your service technicians in the field to your team members in your office.

Knowing how to build trust with customers is critical in today’s business climate. Going above and beyond for your customers is always the direct route to building consumer trust and a loyal customer base. Failing to do this and build it into your culture will limit your potential.

With social media and instant reviews online, today’s consumers are increasingly savvy, selective, and cynical about their purchasing decisions. Gone are the days of sales manipulation, persuasion, convincing, and winning where the customer is the one being manipulated, convinced, persuaded, and the loser. Our job is not to convince but inform.

Trust equity starts with building your positive reputation in the market. Warren Buffett once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” So, once you build your reputation, you must be consistent with processes, positive attitudes, and always doing what’s in the best interest of your customers is critical.

As a company, we need to tell our story to the public to build a trusted brand. This story should go beyond our products and services and gets the customer to look at our history, passion for service, expertise, certifications, company culture, awards, etc. At the end of the day, YOU are the brand and not the product manufacturer you are aligned with. People need to identify with you and your values so that they are naturally drawn to the same likeness. We want to hang out with people we like and trust, and it’s the same in a business relationship.

Then we must live up to the brand and expectations that we are promoting. Be honest and straightforward with your customers about your products and services. No exaggerated claims that can appear to be pseudo-science or gimmicky. People can see right through the hype, and you will lose their trust. Be clear with your pricing and build value that goes beyond the customer’s investment with you. This is especially true for getting their repeat business and referrals.

Offer great customer service to build trust and loyalty. Hire dedicated team members and consistently train them to a high standard. Train them to have empathy and patience with angry customers and celebrate with excitement with the happy customers. Allow your team to treat customer issues on an individual case by case basis, rather than a canned “this is just how we do it” reply. The goal here is to provide an efficient, professional, and personable experience for your customers. If they feel like your team has gone above and beyond, then they’re far more likely to come back and then recommend you to their friends and family.

If you’re doing things right and building trust equity, then share your successes with reviews online. In today’s world, we are all in the habit of checking reviews before we go to a restaurant, on a vacation, or any other activity. Don’t think for a moment that it is any different in your industry when people are looking for your product or services. Word of mouth recommendations are important, and we trust third-party recommendations and the experience that others have had with a certain business. Reviews help customers make decisions on whether to consider your company to service their needs. Written reviews are great, and getting a few customer video testimonials are even better. So, leverage the power of recommendations by displaying unedited reviews prominently on your website, sharing positive feedback across your social media channels, and responding to reviews quickly and professionally to build trust equity.

Also, on your website, if you don’t have one already, create a “meet our team” page to put names with faces. Show them all the support that they will get, not only from the technician or salesperson that shows up on the call but from all your support staff.

Gaining trust with your customers and prospects should be part of the job description for everyone on your team. You already have products and services that consumers want and need, and hopefully the ability to show how you’re adding value, informing them on problems and solutions, and so forth. However, if you don’t earn the customer’s trust, they’ll probably buy from someone else whom they do trust.

Building trust equity will pay dividends!

 

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!