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.

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.

The Average Ticket Culture

When someone truly believes in the products and services they provide to their clients, and they know how to effectively communicate what they believe with passion and enthusiasm to another, this becomes the positive cause and effect of the sales process. My team and I have a saying that illustrates this communication process in sales, which leads to my average ticket discussion: 

“Sales is the transfer of your belief to someone else, and the reward is money.”

So if you and your team believe in the products and services that you offer and can communicate this to your clients ethically with passion and enthusiasm, average tickets will go up along with company profits, employee income, and rave reviews. 

Many organizations and national trainers (including myself and my IAQ training team) all preach the importance of setting KPIs, knowing the average ticket of your team members, and holding them accountable to reach the standards and goals that you set for them. As important as this is to keep your company profitable so that you can properly serve your clients, many times this can be misconstrued by your team without the proper communication that should go along with it.

Let me elaborate on the three types of “Average Ticket Cultures” that I have seen over the years of training and visiting contractors.

  1. Lead to mislead: This is where the leader of the company trains his team to hit the KPI and average ticket at all costs. Maybe even to the extent of having deceptive practices to entice clients to purchase unneeded products or services only to benefit the technicians, sales consultants’, and the company’s pocketbooks. So they may or may not believe in the company’s product and services, but that doesn’t matter in this case. The emphasis is put on increasing revenue alone and not increasing average tickets by properly communicating to the client what is in their best interest. Fortunately, this is the exception and not the rule.
  2. Lead to impede: Many times company leaders, who recognize the importance of higher average tickets and what it financially means to all involved, don’t train their team on how to effectively communicate the features and benefits of their products and services properly to their clients on every sales, service, and maintenance call. So the leader becomes a hindrance since the team may believe in the company’s products and services, yet they don’t know how to transfer this belief to the client. It’s like telling them where they need to be, but not telling them how to get there.
  3. Lead to succeed: In this culture, not only does the leader give her team members the tools and training to understand the benefits of their products and services, but she also works with them on how to effectively communicate these benefits, honestly and ethically, on every call. Teaching them when and how to offer options at incremental levels allows the client to choose which option best fits their budgets and needs. These options can best be described, in a manner of speaking, as what must be done to get them back up and running, what should be done to prevent it from happening in the future, and what could be done to improve performance with accessory items, (i.e.: IAQ, water treatment, surge protectors, hard start kits, generators, etc.). 

When a leader leads to success, it takes some work, yet it is the only sustainable culture of the three. Higher average tickets become the positive effect that is caused by the ability of your team members to communicate challenges and solutions effectively with confidence. This then becomes a company culture of servicing the client with care and consideration that results in higher average tickets. Yet, it doesn’t start there. Treating others with respect and respecting their point of view, even when you don’t agree, is a way of life. Greeting others with a smile and living a life of gratitude starts with humility in one’s self. In our innermost being, we must respect ourselves first, which guides our morals, and in turn guides our manners in respecting others.

I may be simplifying this, yet as we witness the negativity that’s going on locally and around the world today, there is an obvious disconnect with humility, respect, and understanding of others. How we deal with adversity affects us, our personal life, our careers, and the world around us.

In the early 1800s as our country was developing, the US and the British were still fighting over the control of this new nation and the land. Caught in between this fight were the Native Americans who saw us “settlers” as the enemy in this land grab. 

Chief Tecumseh of the Shawnee tribe rose amongst the Indians to become a leader and great warrior that tried to unite all tribes to defend their homeland. Talk about adversity! 

Chief Tecumseh had other great attributes as well. While he was a fierce warrior, he was a humble man who believed in treating others with respect. I will not be able to do justice to his legacy in this short article, but here is a very brief bio:

                      “Tecumseh was a Shawnee warrior chief who organized a Native American confederacy in an effort to create an autonomous Indian state and stop white settlement in the Northwest Territory (modern-day Great Lakes region). He firmly believed that all Indian tribes must settle their differences and unite to retain their lands, culture, and freedom. Tecumseh led his followers against the United States in many battles and supported the British during the War of 1812. But his dream of independence ended when he was killed at the Battle of Thames, which led to the collapse of his Indian confederacy.”

Chief Shawnee was also a great orator whose speeches even mesmerized enemy soldiers. This excerpt from one of his speeches gives us some insight to his humility and beliefs. 

“So, live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and nothing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes, they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.” ― Chief Tecumseh

What great words of wisdom! Lead to succeed with a culture of humility and respect for others, and the financial rewards will come your way.  

 

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!

IAQ Best Practice Success Story

As the COVID-19 inquiries from contractors come in, I am struck by the variety of ways that contractors position themselves as far as IAQ challenges and solutions during the outbreak. And they go from one extreme to another:

  • With all this media attention, MAYBE I should get into IAQ…
  • I’m going to exploit this opportunity to MY advantage… (yes sadly a few)
  • This subject is too sensitive, so I’m going to stop marketing IAQ until it is over…
  • How can I best service my clients with the IAQ products that we have been promoting for years during these unprecedented times?

Let’s imagine for a moment that this COVID-19 outbreak never happened. 

How would you handle promoting IAQ with your clients then? Maybe think about it? Exploit the opportunity? Stop doing it? Or continue to train your team on Best Practices in promoting IAQ? 

Hopefully, the answer is obvious! 

I believe that the answer to either scenario, with or without COVID-19, should be the same.  

We will eventually get through this Covid-19 pandemic, and although things will get back to normal, the need awareness for IAQ products will have heightened substantially. Currently, due to social distancing and consumers’ concerns about letting service techs in their homes, we have had to change the way we work a call and adjust for the present times. This includes communicating more with our clients via email. Through our CSRs and dispatchers, it’s informing them of what action you are taking within your organization to abide by the CDC recommendations on how to keep your employees and your clients as safe as possible.

Currently, the IAQ conversation can still be had, yet we should abide by the six-foot social distancing rule and other CDC recommendations, while in the home as it relates to any conversation a technician may have with the homeowner at different stages of the call. Soon, after the dust settles, we should get back to Best Practices as they relate to the service call and IAQ. Best Practices is a general term that is used in all industries that address many functions within an organization. So, many times I have been asked to be more specific. To that end, I’d like to share one of the many success stories we receive that produced excellent results from learning IAQ Best Practice from the technician standpoint.

Don, my IAQ Training Rep. in Wisconsin, shared this specific success story with me that happened before the COVID-19 pandemic. My team and I are constantly sharing success stories from the field and this one is from an email that Don sent to me detailing a recent success that he had with a “naysayer” technician. 

During an onsite training where the contractors IAQ numbers were down 20%, I started by asking the team what was happening in the field that was causing the drop in sales. According to all the techs, the biggest objection for the homeowner was the price. Specifically, one tech was hung up on it. So, I asked him to explain how he was getting the homeowner involved in the call. He used a lot of pictures and technical information, yet never brought the homeowner to the furnace. He only sold two of our PMACs (Polarized Media Air Cleaners) in the past two months. So, I showed them all what they should be doing on every call to boost their confidence and increase success. With this best practice, we have experienced a 96% success rate in giving the homeowner a full presentation at the homeowner’s kitchen table.

I tell techs while I’m on ride-alongs after training that after the meet and greet, it all starts at the thermostat with the transition question: “Mrs. Jones, as I’m going through your system, if I find anything that affects the performance of your equipment or the health and safety of your family, would you like me to share that with you or just fix it?” 99% say they would like me to share my findings with them. 

 (Most of you have heard of this transition question asked in different ways. Yet, we find that most technicians don’t use it and it is a very important part of the process.)  

We start the maintenance, and I have the technician complete their full tune-up and get all their technical readings for their system report. Once that is done, I have them pull the blower wheel completely out. I clean three fins on the blower wheel the best I can to show the homeowner the contrast between clean and the blower wheel’s current condition. I then get the homeowner to join me at the furnace to discuss my concerns. I show them the pictures in our Consumer’s Handbook that show a filthy blower wheel compared to a perfectly clean image of one. Showing the homeowner the current condition of their blower wheel and comparing it to the images, I then ask the homeowner, “If I give this clean blower wheel a rating of 10 (the clean image) and I give the dirty one a rating of zero, how would you rate yours?” Whatever they rate their own, I agree with them and then educate the homeowner on how the current condition of their blower wheel is affecting the performance of their equipment and is causing them to overpay the utility company. (By the way, when the homeowner gives a number, rating the condition of their blower wheel, they take ownership that there is a problem.) This statement is supported by the EPA and Texas A&M studies that I bring to their attention. “Mrs. Jones, as you can see, your blower wheel is accumulating dirt buildup and that motor is designed to work at peak efficiency when it is completely clean. If it is heavier from that dirt, then can we agree it is working harder than it is designed for? If that motor is working harder, what do you think is happening to your utility bill? Going up?” They usually agree. Then I do the same with the secondary heat exchanger and cooling coil with a visual inspection with the homeowner. “If there was a blanket on either of them, then that motor could be working 2x and even 3x harder than it’s designed for. If that motor is working 3x harder, what are the chances that the motor is going to fail prematurely? The reason that this is happening is the current filter you are using is allowing all this dirt to pass through the filter and effecting the most expensive appliance that you have in your home. If I could show you a little better filter than the one you are currently using and guarantee this never happens again, is that okay with you?” 

With that example and role play with the team, I then asked the “naysayer” technician to commit to me that he would do this on every call for the next week. Well, he did, and he sold seven PMACs the first week and six the second week. The crazy thing about this story is that after the meeting, I met with the owner to discuss spiffs and his current pricing on our IAQ products. Based on this conversation, he raised his price by $100.00 before the technicians went out on their calls. So, it shows how effective and how important it is to follow a process that will create success for the techs and the company while benefiting the client. 

Thanks, Don, for sharing that story so that I can share it with others!

It’s not the price, it’s the process, and it is the right thing to do for your clients.

Take the time now to examine what your IAQ Best Practice process will be for your team, and get expert advice on how to improve and polish it. 

Encourage your team to use it every time, on every call, and hold them accountable to the process.  

This IAQ Best Practice scenario should be implemented not because of the COVID-19 pandemic, rather despite it!

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!

Your Body of Work

“You’re not just getting a couple hours of my time, you’re getting what it took me my entire life to cultivate into these hands and this heart.” 

If you’re in the skilled trades, you’ve no doubt heard a version of this statement. You might even have used it yourself to support your pricing. It might surprise you then to learn, Phil X, a studio musician, made this comment. Sooner or later, we are all called on to validate the value we deliver. While many address this situation from selling your value, I approach it today from the standpoint of building it.

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. – George Bernard Shaw

 

Your Body of Work  

Pamela Slim, the author of Body of Work, defines it this way. A body of work is everything you create, contribute, affect, and impact. It’s the personal legacy you leave behind at the end of your life. This includes all the tangible and intangible things you’ve created. 

Stephen R. Covey often used the funeral service as a way to provoke thinking on a lifetime of building value or not building it. He’d ask his readers to imagine that they were in the back row of their funeral service. What did the speakers have to say about their life?

Pam’s book is about creating that desired life. Focusing on meaning, skill development, professional network development, craft, and mastery, Body of Work is a perfect life-map for those of all ages.

“The secret to high performance and satisfaction – at work, at school, and at home – is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.” – Dan Pink in his book Drive.

Pam uses this quote in her book and goes onto say that those who structure their careers around autonomy, mastery, and purpose, the main themes in Drive, will build a powerful body of work. Drive is perfect complementary reading to Body of Work. By the way, if you’ve ever thought, “How do I motivate my coworkers?”, you need to read Drive!

Based on eight primary tools, Body of Work helps us design and create a life of value.

 

The Wisdom of Others

When our ancestors were running free, loose, and wild on the Serengeti, they weren’t doing it in isolation but ran together in tribes. In developing our body of work, we need, and some of us crave, the wisdom of others to survive and thrive.  

Between books, magazines, the internet, and our industries, collecting and assimilating that knowledge can be a daunting endeavor. We’re going to explore one source of wisdom and then use its example to harvest more wisdom in the future.

 

Tribe of Mentors

Tribe of Mentors, written by Tim Ferriss, is a book profiling approximately 140 successful people. Tim reached a point where life questioned him. “How could I best reassess my life, my priorities, my view of the world, my place in the world, and my trajectory through the world?” 

He thought, “What if I assembled a tribe of mentors to help me out?” Hence the book, which is based on a set of 11 questions that Tim asked each participant. These questions are well thought out and designed to help facilitate a quality answer. 

For instance, instead of asking, “What’s your favorite book?”, which for someone like me, is a labor-intensive question, he asks, “What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why?” Or, ‘What are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?”

The wisdom from Tim’s mentors only takes up a couple of pages, making Tribe of Mentors the perfect read for the busy professional.

 

What else can the author teach me?

Whenever I read a book, I always take a step back from the book’s content and try to absorb other lessons. In Tim’s case, it’s the book’s format. He doesn’t publish the answers to all 11 questions for each, just the most insightful ones. If you’re a business owner, consider developing two sets of questions to ask others who have traveled the road before you. One set contains only a couple of questions, those that can be asked in person. The other set can be asked via email or in an interview.

Use some of Tim’s questions and add a few of your own. File the knowledge you collect either by topic or person and use it to enhance your body of work.

You are the director of your own story. Be intentional! Work on building your tribe of mentors and developing a fruitful body of work.

 

Dave Rothacker
www.gotimesuccessgroup.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!