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.

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.

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!