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.

Home Services Contractors Are Redefining Exceptional Customer Experience Amid the Pandemic

Home services contractors have proven they can adapt to the new normal. But how can they retain and grow their customer base in the next normal?

The very best home services contractors work hard to influence customer retention with membership agreements that provide security, peace of mind, and offer some influence over a homeowner’s attention span; however, even these contractors are still swimming against the current. In today’s market, customer churn is guaranteed.

When dealing with change, it’s always best to focus on what you can control. So, while a contractor can never control a customer’s loyalty, they are 100% able to control the experience they provide to them. So let’s talk about how contractors can ensure that those experiences are exceptional and change the game entirely.

Changes that Stick

In order to win the confidence and trust of homeowners, contractors have to move beyond marginal improvements to the status quo. They will be required to concentrate their focus on providing the most convenient and personalized service experience to customers.

This starts by looking at how customer behavior changed during 2020 and what expectations will persist in the years ahead.  A recent McKinsey Insights article revealed that during the first six months of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, companies were pushed over a technology tipping point transforming business forever. In that short time, consumer engagement through digital channels such as texting, webchat, or apps jumped 24% over 2019 levels. Currently, over 65% of customer interactions in North America are digital.

For example, the conveniences we’ve all enjoyed, while their adoption has been accelerated by the pandemic will certainly remain incredibly high. At Schedule Engine, we saw the usage of web chat across the clients we support increase by 300% during the early phase of the pandemic, while adoption of online booking increased at an even steeper rate of 500%. Both of those metrics continue to rise today and show signs of accelerating even more as we move into 2021.

So, at the beginning of 2021, the home services industry is at a very different place when it comes to meeting consumer expectations than we were just a year ago. While the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital engagement by consumers, according to BDO USA, the effects are here to stay. Customers are not going to stop expecting the same level of convenience they are enjoying now.

Giving Customers What They Want

Some changes in consumer behavior that have been driven by necessity rather than preference, such as the reliance on food delivery services, may not persist at current levels after the pandemic is over. While caution will be the name of the game, post-pandemic consumers will seek out experiences like in-person dining and travel. But other changes initially driven by circumstances will be sustained because of their sheer convenience and exceptional customer experience long after the pandemic has faded. 

This is where home service contractors need to pay attention. Customers are not going to unlearn the advantages and convenience of the online services they’ve turned to in order to weather the pandemic. To keep up, contractors need to be able to provide modern online booking and live technical chat support on their websites.

At Schedule Engine, our team is driven to deliver customer experience solutions and live support services to help contractors offer this kind of convenience to their customers. Feel free to connect with me or send me a direct message online. You’re also welcome to email info@scheduleengine.com. We look forward to the conversation!

 

Strickland Tudor is the Vice President of Schedule Engine

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!

Clean the Clutter from Your Company

With the New Year comes new motivations. Be healthier, save more money, be more organized. But many times, organizing your business is often overlooked. Disorganization may be preventing your business from growing and being successful. Being unorganized results in measurable losses, like lost time and money, negatively affects your business reputation, adds stress to your life, and makes it difficult for you to work efficiently.

It’s time to organize your company. This task seems daunting, I know, but I find it easiest to break it down into three categories.  What to keep, what to recycle, what to throw away.

What to Keep

This is the easy one. You keep what adds value to you, your business. This includes time-saving techniques, essential employees, hardware, and software. Take the time to make sure these items are in good working order. Verify your software is up to date. If you haven’t in a while, now is a good time for employee reviews. Talk to your employees, let them know they add value to your company. Ask them what they need from you to keep performing at their best. Find out what they like to do, what they don’t like to do. Work with them to find ways to make the not so enjoyable tasks more enjoyable. Look at your vendors, suppliers, software companies, and business partners. Are you using all the benefits they provide?

What to Recycle 

Next is recycling. As you look around your office, I am sure there are many things you can recycle or donate. But this goes beyond that. Look at the processes your company does; are they out of date? ‘We have always done it this way’ should not be justification for tasks. Are you in compliance with OSHA and all other regulatory agencies? Are you using technology to streamline your processes, reduce your carbon footprint and minimize repetitive tasks? If you are still receiving or sending invoices and statements by snail mail, you need to take time to switch to electronic billing and processing. Going paperless can be overwhelming, but a recent study found 80% of filed papers never get looked at again. Electronically storing your invoices will save you time filing, researching items, and allow you access to your files from anywhere, at any time.

What to Throw Away

Throw away. This one is harder than it seems. But, with today’s technology, you can maximize your resources and start doing more with less. You will find that many tasks will remove themselves with the introduction of automation.

Now that you aren’t overwhelmed with unnecessary information, what are you doing with the information you do have? Keep your information as accurate and clean as possible. Correct capitalization and punctuation are essential. Are you providing personalized messaging to your customers? Are you reaching out regularly to potential customers?

 

Once you have taken the time to declutter your processes, your business, from generating leads to providing after-sales services, will run smoother.

 

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!

Employee Burnout and How to Avoid it

In the past week, in conversations with contractors, two have mentioned that the ‘feel’ of their office has changed. When asked to clarify, the explanation was remarkably similar. 

The mood or energy seems off like a dark cloud had settled over their business.  

They both realized that the situation wasn’t caused by their job, it was an accumulation of everything that has been going on in the past few months. 

To combat the onset of employee burnout, both owners invested in counseling for their employees. Not equipment training. Not sales coaching. They invested in their health. Seeing their employees struggling, they stepped in to provide the resources to help them. While our industry has been largely untouched by the ‘isolation’ bug, your employees’ family and personal lives haven’t. Not being able to see their friends and family is taking an emotional toll on everyone, and it spills into their professional life. The lack of control, whether personal or professional, anxiety over the economy, the political atmosphere, even changes in the weather, and the amount of sunlight can all affect the attitude of your employees. 

An unengaged team member isn’t helping the business, potentially alienating both customers and other employees. 

There are numerous signs of burnout, but the three most common and consistent are:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Increased negativity
  • Reduced productivity

It is easy to write these off as another bad day or a difficult personality. But, for your business and employee’s sake, you need to be proactive. In our industry, decreased attention to detail can cause increased callbacks, potential injury to your employee, or damage to your customer’s home or business.

Take the time to implement a few best practices to minimize burnout in your business:

 

Show your employees you value them as an employee: 

In a recent survey, 50% of employees said their careers have stalled or even regressed. Investing in training for your employees has numerous benefits, but training doesn’t have to be expensive. Mentoring, whether within your company or involving outside resources, can vastly improve morale. And it’s beneficial to both parties; asking someone to mentor or share their knowledge with others, who wouldn’t get a boost of confidence from that? Everyone likes to feel like they have something valuable to contribute. Investing in their future with the company will also help alleviate feelings of self-doubt.   

 

Show your employees you value them as a person:

Focus on your employees’ well-being. Encourage them to unplug. We recently limited our intake of news programming, both on-line and television. After a few days, I found that I was sleeping better, my anxiety had decreased, and I felt more optimistic in general. Your employees are taking on additional responsibilities at home while potentially dealing with financial concerns, their family’s health, and their children’s education. Talk with your employees about issues they may be facing. One company established a message board within their company, where team members can post their needs and offer services; they have high school students providing tutoring, a currently out-of-work spouse who makes meals for purchase, and a forum for asking advice and suggestions.  

 

Stay in touch:

If you have transitioned to a remote or partially remote workforce, staying in touch with your employees has become of even greater importance. Technology is great for staying connected, but personal interaction is needed as well. If you can’t meet in person, take the time to talk to them regularly. Not every interaction with your employees needs to be business-related. Yes, there are rules as to what you can discuss, but asking them about their weekend or their favorite sports team isn’t off-limits. 

 

Lead by Example:  

As a leader, “Do as I say, not as I do” just doesn’t work. If you work through meals, do not take breaks, and fail to focus on your well-being, your employees will follow. Limit your communications on weekends, late nights, and vacations. Take vacation days, and do not feel guilty about taking them. Your vacation days are earned, and both you and your employees should take them without remorse.   

There are many disadvantages of burnout for your business. But beyond that, there is the human factor of wanting what is best for your employees and their families. Work to create a healthy culture in your business to deal with and diminish employee burnout. There is not one single answer, but taking the time to find what works for you and your employees will only benefit your company in the future.  

 

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!