Simplify Now, Diversify Later

My six-year-old has enjoyed…or hated, and I’m not sure…a summer filled with ‘summer camps.’ She’s too young to be working with mom every day, not that I wouldn’t have her answer the phone, but she doesn’t read yet, so typing articles and sending emails…well…let’s give her a few years. I couldn’t stomach the idea of her laying on a couch at her grandma’s watching TV all summer long, so lo and behold, I signed her up for everything I could find: art camp, “Singing in the Rain” camp, “Beauty and the Beast” camp, Bible camp, swimming lessons, and finally, this week, the grand finale of them all…MUD CAMP! She’s waited all summer long for mud camp at the Tennessee Aquarium; meeting new animals, discovering the ecosystems in mud puddles, exploring through the Chattanooga Nature Center, riding a school bus for the very first time! All of these things have been much anticipated…all summer.

So, I’m sure you can imagine with me my surprise when each day this week as I picked her up from mud camp and eagerly awaited the download of her day…silence. Nada. That’s right, a big fat nothing. Too tired to communicate, she climbed into my SUV each day, buckled herself in, and zoned into the abyss on the 45-minute car ride home. I couldn’t believe it!!! I mean, come on, at least tell me all this crazy schedule rearranging, and my co-working from a different office has been worth it!! At least tell me you’re having fun!

Silence.

Until yesterday, remember, she’s six. The first words she uttered on the way home yesterday? “I’m in love. His name is Owen; we shared popcorn today.” *Insert her giggles here.*

WHAT!

And just like that, she’s in love. Definitely not the moment I’d been waiting for.

You know, something else that isn’t the moment we’ve all been waiting for? That moment your customers call you in the heat of summer to complain about something your guys did that wasn’t even in the original scope of work! And now your week is backed up triple calls thick, fixing problems created by your team instead of responding to profitable repair and replacement calls.

That’s right, left-field curveball coming at you – it’s time to get to the meat of what I’m really excited to share with you today.

The number one relationship killer is unrealistic expectations.

Something that’s been inspiring me lately is the Inc. Best Book for Business Owners, Built to Sell. In Built to Sell, they make a recurring point, “You must have a sales engine that will produce predictable recurring revenue.” The word recurring can be taken in many ways, and I’m not talking about ‘recurring’ incoming from service agreement billings. I’m talking about recurring predictable service calls, even if they’re with a multitude of customers.

Stay with me here. It’s summer, the phones are ringing off the hook, and you have the opportunities right in front of your nose to make back the money you lost in the spring, or last fall, during the slow times. Watch out, don’t get busy with the wrong calls. We’ve said this before in our YouTube video, ‘Creative Call Taking,’ but this is an entirely different angle. What I mean is, watch out for the specialty calls. Don’t get stuck in the “super-specialty” scenarios right now that drain the energy out of your team and have possible room for error. Save the specialties for the fall when you’re open to diversifying. Otherwise, you risk doing those calls halfway or at less than your top quality, which could mean losing those customers in the future.  

Right now, focus on the bare-bones basic relevancy of what you do. For example, you’re a plumbing company, and you do plumbing really well. This isn’t to say that you should be doing “drive-thru,” low-quality service. That should never happen. And it doesn’t mean only doing basic repairs either. But what it does mean is that right now, it’s not the time to be extending beyond your wheelhouse. It’s the time to do what you’re best at over and over so you can maximize the efficiency of your team.  

Standardize your priority services now so you can charge upfront, and always do charge upfront. In the busy season, productize your services and cherry-pick the dispatch board for the calls you know your team does really well with and will be profitable for your company. Not only that but on those calls, track the leads for those that you could offer more diverse services to in the slow season.

Because in the slow season, that’s the time when you can afford to branch out into more specialty and add-on services; that’s when you diversify simply because it’s business, and it’s the job of the CEO to find the money and opportunities for the business. 

This is when you take the time to develop even greater expertise in those specialty jobs and new types of jobs so you can hone the craft while the demand is low…and then you’re able to carry your improvements and your new skills into upcoming seasons. 

Eventually, those might become part of your basic services, too, but the busy season is not the time to try your hand at the next obscure skill. Is this way of thinking too inconsistent for our customers? What’s wrong with scheduling ‘specialty’ services in the fall? Custom services don’t scale, and when you’re busy, you need to be scalable.

Call me crazy, but not for my focused ideas. Call me crazy cause I’m a mother trying to figure out how to get her six-year-old out of love and talking about alligators and river otters again!

 

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.

The Secrets to a Happy Exit

Recently I have been involved in a lot of conversations with my clients about either selling their business or buying another business. Selling your business is a stressful and emotional process and should not be based on someone walking in and making an offer to buy your business. There are several considerations, and the first one is to consider “Why are you selling your business?” That is the question that seems to not be fully considered by the business owner.

I would like to recommend a great book, “The Art of Selling Your Business” by John Warrillow. John’s book guides a business owner by selling their business to avoid costs and the steps to allow one to prepare to travel this confusing and emotional journey.

In Section One, Chapter Two, the question is asked, “What is driving your decision to consider selling?”  Let us consider the answers: “I want to retire,” “I am tired,” “Bored,” “Burnt Out,” “Sick of dealing with employees.” Does this sound familiar?  All of these are legitimate, but if these are the only reasons, you may regret selling your business. Business owners find reason and purpose in their businesses. It takes hard work and a lot of sacrifices to build a business, but we know that every journey ends.

Do not let the things that are frustrating you “push” you out of the business, rather getting clear on the “pull” factors that excite you. You want to be looking back on owning your business with fond memories and have no regrets.

I listened to a podcast interview with Bo Burlingham about his book, “Finish Big”, he defines there are five good qualities of a good exit:

  • At the end of the process, a business owner feels they have been fairly treated and appropriately rewarded for all the hard work of building a business.
  • A seller can look back with a sense of pride in what they did as a business owner.
  • The seller has peace of mind about what happens to those people who were part of the business and their continued success.
  • One finds a sense of purpose outside of owning a business.
  • In some cases, it is important to continue to see the business thrive without the owner.

Even though the financial part of selling a business is very important, the emotional part is equally important. Usually, does not raise its head until after the transaction has been done. Burlingham states, “50% of the sellers are happy, but 50% of the sellers are miserable.”

A business owner needs to begin their exit strategy early in the business forming years. Before you sell your business, begin to understand how, why, and when is right for you.

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.

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

I really struggled to write this article. I wanted to write something about New Year’s Resolutions and what we need to do to regroup and focus on our business and ourselves. Researching this, I found plenty of articles for inspiration, too many. You don’t need another article on starting the New Year off on the right foot and how to analyze your successes and failures of the past year. So, assuming you have or are in the process of choosing your resolutions, I am writing to give you tips on sticking with them. 

Try not to view resolutions as all or nothing. If you hate working out, then your resolution to work out every day is not going to work. You are going to be miserable and finally stop, then beat yourself up for breaking your resolution again. Instead, find something you enjoy doing, and do it. View it as an investment in yourself. Take away the mindset of CHANGING,  but view it as INVESTING in who you are.

Steve Mores with Dynamic Air Quality Solutions recently wrote an article for Comanche Marketing about Risk Taking. He referenced a mantra, Everything is learnable, from Marelisa Fabrega, for changing your life:

· I wish I were…

· I wish I had…

· I wish I knew how to…

Use these questions to help decide how to invest in yourself. Find something important to you, not what is expected of you by society or someone else. 

Create a plan.

 Set your goal, define the steps to get there, and focus on the process. Make small changes that will become habits. Be prepared for obstacles and how you will overcome them. 

Follow the Experts. 

You don’t have to do it alone. Find people who have been there and can help you achieve your goals. Whether online or in-person, build a network of resources. 

They can help you with questions, give you advice, and offer support. 

Find ways to hold yourself accountable.

 Share your goals with a friend, print them, and post on your bulletin board, anything that will hold you accountable. This is hard to do. Letting someone know your goals also lets someone know when you don’t reach them. 

But this is probably one of the most important steps to take in holding yourself accountable. 

Don’t beat yourself up if you fall or fail. 

Author Brené Brown offers the advice, ‘Talk to yourself like you would talk to someone you love.’ However, the late musician Daniel Johnston said, ‘Most of the worst things said about me, I’ve said myself.’ 

A lot of us tend to treat ourselves more like Daniel than Brené. Everyone makes mistakes; it is what you learn and how you react to them that will make you a better person. 

Stay inspired. 

Remember, you are investing in yourself. Make yourself a priority. The goal you chose was important to you. Sometimes you just need to remind yourself why this was important to you. 

 

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!

Leadership Sustainability

Is leadership success sustainable?

Riffing on my Comanche Marketing article titled “Authentic and Caring Leadership”, Steve Mores penned an insightful Comanche Marketing article himself titled “Leadership and Sustainability”.

Steve mentions that my article reminded him of authentic and caring leaders who he both worked and works with. So I am going to return the volley and continue the conversation on leadership sustainability. 

Steve introduces Currie Gauvreau’s expertise. Instead of motivating coworkers, Currie believes in inspiring them.

 I think we should be focused on INSPIRING our teams instead. The difference is simple in concept: ‘Motivation is lighting a fire UNDER someone, while inspiration is lighting a fire WITHIN someone!’

I agree! Inspiration courses through the various elements that lead to leadership sustainability.

Vision

The North Star of successful long term leadership is a compelling, clear, and inspiring illustration of the company’s future. It needs to not only answer the following questions, but it also needs to magnetize desired fellow travelers. 

  • Why would someone buy-in?
  • Why would they care?
  • Is it inspirational?
  • Is it clear?

Purpose

Richard J. Leider on purpose:

  • It’s the essence of who we are and what makes us unique
  • It’s an active expression of the deepest dimension within us – where we have found a profound sense of who we are and why we’re here
  • It’s the aim around which we structure our lives, a source of direction and energy. Through the lens of purpose, we can see ourselves and our future more clearly
  • It gives life meaning

Simon Sinek tells us in his book Start With WHY, a company owner’s business and personal purpose (WHY) should be the same. Think about that for a second. Who you are shouldn’t change depending on where you are or what you’re doing.

A compelling purpose draws people in. And most people want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Sustaining energy and commitment evolves when coworkers believe what the leader believes. The company then becomes a vehicle for coworkers to express and live out their values and beliefs. 

One final note on purpose. Leider suggests using the default purpose of To Give and To Grow if you haven’t hammered out your own. In over 40 years of research work on purpose, he’s discovered that true purpose consists of these two components.

Passion

While purpose is the WHY, the reason for existence, the driving force, passion brings it to life with energy and emotion. Energy and emotion are oxygen to a fire. As Jessica Lauren DeBry says,

“If you wanted to start a campfire with passion and purpose, you’d start with a foundation of wood (your purpose), and start the flame with a match (your passion).”

Positivity

Positive emotions arise from how we interpret ideas and events as they unfold. Positivity flows when the leader finds and continues to find good in the people and experiences that surround them. 

Positivity flourishes in the workplace when emotions like gratitude, joy, hope, inspiration, and love, to name a few, are present. Leaders who continue to practice these emotions and recognize, celebrate, and encourage them in their coworkers, keep a strong beam of energy and light on the road ahead.

Core Values

Core values are the pillars upon which a company is built. They reflect how an organization behaves while in pursuit of the purpose on the way towards fulfilling its vision. 

When a coworker shares common core values with a company, as with purpose, the company becomes a vehicle to express those values. When we have the opportunity to live and express our core values, we have a tendency to stay with the entity that is giving us the chance to be who we are. 

As long as the leader continues to be true to the core values and supports coworkers in their efforts to express them, it becomes a perpetuating environment.

Daily Disciplines / Practices

Why are so many companies barely eeking out profits, if even making them at all? Because their leaders are either ignorant of and or refuse to follow the practices successful leaders perform day and day out!

What are these disciplines and practices? I like to say they reside in those VHS and cassette tapes and binders covered in dust and piled up in your closet. Consultants like Charlie Greer, Ben Stark, Ron Smith, and Ruth King have educated us for years on these disciplines and practices. Their common challenge? “If only our clients would implement…”

The disciplines, practices, and information are readily available. Check in with industry coaches and consultants. Check in with Service Excellence Training, The Go Time Success Group, and the Service Nation Alliance!

Once you check in and engage, take massive action! The fruit of your consistent effort is the growth and development of your people and company. 

People

As Jim Collins famously said, “First who, then what – get the right people on the bus and the right people in the key seats before figuring out where to drive the bus.”

An expedition to cross the south polar continent in 1914 demonstrates the nature of Collins’s advice.

Englishman Ernest Shackleton set out to explore the Antarctic and cross the continent. 11 months into the expedition, the crew’s ship sank. Shackleton took some men, leaving most behind, and journeyed 800 miles for help. Under conditions that would kill most, not one life was lost. Why? Because Shackleton got the right people on his bus. Here’s his recruitment ad:

“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.”

For sustainable success, it’s critically imperative to enlist people who share your values and beliefs! 

Leadership sustainability is like a flywheel building momentum. 

From Jim Collins’s book Good to Great:

Picture a huge, heavy flywheel—a massive metal disk mounted horizontally on an axle, about 30 feet in diameter, 2 feet thick, and weighing about 5,000 pounds. Now imagine that your task is to get the flywheel rotating on the axle as fast and long as possible. Pushing with great effort, you get the flywheel to inch forward, moving almost imperceptibly at first. You keep pushing and, after two or three hours of persistent effort, you get the flywheel to complete one entire turn. You keep pushing, and the flywheel begins to move a bit faster, and with continued great effort, you move it around a second rotation. And on and on…

Then, at some point—breakthrough! The momentum of the thing kicks in in your favor, hurling the flywheel forward, turn after turn … whoosh! … its own heavy weight working for you. You’re pushing no harder than during the first rotation, but the flywheel goes faster and faster. Each turn of the flywheel builds upon work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort. A thousand times faster, then ten thousand, then a hundred thousand. The huge heavy disk flies forward, with almost unstoppable momentum. 

The elements we discuss today are the equivalent of each push on the flywheel. It’s impossible to determine which push caused the disc to go so fast. But they’re all necessary.

It really does come down to inspiration. As Steve Mores concludes:

“Inspirational leadership leads to excellence and team members that are “Authentic and Caring”, just like their leader, in all aspects of their personal life, career, AND client interaction!”

For further exploration:

The Power of Purpose by Richard J. Leider

Start With WHY by Simon Sinek

Find Your WHY by Simon Sinek, David Mead, and Peter Drocker

Good to Great by Jim Collins

The Vision Drive Leader by Michael Hyatt

Good Leaders Ask Great Questions by John C. Maxwell  

 

Dave Rothacker is an author and specializes in Idea Cultivation for Go Time Success Group.

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 Get Busy

As a Shark Tank TV show fan, I just finished reading Robert Herjavec’s bestseller, The Will to Win. Throughout the book, Robert tells stories of his Shark Tank experiences, his love of family, his upbringing, and struggles as an immigrant to Canada when he was eight, and of course, business management – and his perspectives were fascinating. Primarily, the importance of thinking time. Rodney Koop, my business partner, and I are all too often saying to each other, “Schedule thinking time!” So, to read it in print by Robert…well, I guess it just made me feel a bit more validated. 

Last week, I vacationed with my family in Florida, off a beautiful key called Englewood. As a first-time visitor to Englewood, Florida, I felt as if I was in a foreign country, or on a tropical island; it was beautiful. My husband and I, with our three young children, had rented a house on the beach…and as luck would have it, we sat inside through most of our time due to a tropical storm.

On one such day, my husband, Josh, went to plug in his phone for charging…I was nursing our infant son in another room, but the scream was easily heard, and unbelievably scary. Josh had received such a shock from the outlet that his arm went numb for 10 minutes!

Now…let’s consider the facts:

  • Two weeks before, some electricians had replaced the breaker box in this home.
  • The home was valued at $1.8M.
  • The homeowners lived out of state and rented this home to families…

Naturally, we contacted the management company, who quickly scheduled for the electricians to return and check the outlet. When he arrived and tested the outlet, these are the words we heard: “Well, it’s testing fine; doesn’t seem to have anything wrong with it – maybe your finger was on the prong of your phone charger when you attempted to plug it in, so that’s why you received the shock? But regardless, this outlet is really old, not grounded, and should be replaced.”

Would you believe that after that, he packed his bags and left?!  

Being Busy Robs You from Being Profitable

Was he so busy that he couldn’t see golden opportunities sitting in front of him? It’s like my friend (in my dreams) Napoleon Hill always said, “You may be three feet from gold,” but in this case, the man was much closer than three feet; his hands were on the outlet! Upon further inspection, it seems that the house could truly use a re-wire, but this service professional had a busy day. Did he call the owners to schedule a re-wire? Did he even attempt to provide a quote? No. Josh wasn’t the only one that was shocked!

But hey, who am I to say this company needed this opportunity? Heck, they could have been slammed with work, and this one may have been at the bottom of their list. But as the daughter of a contractor, born and bred in the industry, I know that’s not the case. 

Let’s revisit those three facts from before. 

  • The breaker box in this home had just been replaced. This call was not a true ‘callback’ because it was a non-related issue, but it was a return visit to an existing customer who had already shown their willingness to spend money on repairs.
  • The home was valued at $1.8M. In a prime neighborhood, the kind of neighborhood that I like to do business in. Don’t you?
  • The homeowners lived out of state and rented the home to families. I’ll betcha’ the homeowners would be willing to pay top dollar on their top-dollar home to make sure their tenants aren’t getting zapped…or worse. After all, getting sued is more expensive than going to the highest bidder for a rewire job. Also, when you live out of state, having to deal with repairs continuously is inconvenient. Don’t you think they’d prefer to see some options to get it all taken care of at once and do an outstanding job so they don’t have to worry about it? Plus, those five-star reviews sure go along ways when booking a vacation home. “The house electrocuted me” isn’t exactly the most desirable review someone could write.

I know that when opportunity calls, we often miss it because we are ‘busy’ and we simply didn’t schedule enough thinking time. I’m guilty of this, too. I just emailed three of my team members to tell them that I am canceling all Monday meetings with them; I’m calling it “No Meeting Mondays.” I am taking the time to schedule a time to think; I am meeting with myself so I’m ready when opportunity knocks.

P.S. Anyone in the Florida area interested in a lead? Give me a call, and I’ll send the owners your way!

 

Written by Danielle Putnam, President of The New Flat Rate and Immediate Past President 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!