On this radio segment for WMAP in Long Island, New York (my old stomping grounds) I outline for host Brendan the basics of The 7-Power Contractor approach including planning power, operating power, financial power, sales power, marketing power, staffing power and sales coaching power.
On Episode 159 of the Escape 9 to 5 Podcast, host and entrepreneur Ali Salman and I discuss how contractors can run their business with less stress and more success. I also describe how thorough planning enabled me to escape the 9 to 5 (which actually was more like 7 to 7) and create success and the lifestyle I desired as a business consultant to contractors.
“That Tech has a bad attitude.”
“I don’t like the attitude of our bookkeeper!”
“What’s wrong with the attitude of our dispatcher?”
Bad attitudes are everywhere, it would appear.
In most cases, nothing, other than your opinion, that is. An opinion, by the way, that that colored by your attitude toward others! In fact, my new favorite saying is, “I see what I believe” not the old (and incorrect) saying, “I’ll believe it when I’ll see it.”
As owners and bosses, we’re quick to judge. It’s what we do. We compare people to some fictional version of how we think we were when we did their work. The part we leave out is that our vision of ourselves, especially as times goes by, is akin to the fish growing larger every time the fish story is told!
No, you couldn’t put a water heater in by yourself in one hour. Nor could you install a new heating system by yourself in two hours. You didn’t carry that giant hot tub up four flights of stairs by yourself and install it in an hour, either. And when you were up to your elbows in grunge on a job, or a customer groused at you, you may have come back to the office a little grumpy, too!
Resistance—I get a lot as an industry consultant but when it comes to convincing a contractor client of the importance of training, resistance is something I can bank on.
I listen politely as they recount a bad experience or two they have had because they invested in someone who then left the company and went work for someone else—usually a competitor.
After a few minutes of this, I interrupt them and address the elephant in the room: “So, what you’re asking yourself is, ‘What if I train them and they leave?’”
My reply, the only one that makes any sense, is, “What if you don’t train them and they stay?”
The next thing I typically hear from the owner is, “Darn it. I know you’re right and I hate it.”
Stop me if this sounds familiar:
In the job interview, the candidate told me they could do it. Who knew that they couldn’t? Me!
I got blindsided by this so often in my contracting life. Looking back, it’s easy to know why I didn’t know what they could really do and not do. I hired out of desperation.
Here’s the reality. Sometimes, an employee would give us two weeks’ notice that they were leaving our company. And that was okay. Sometimes, we’d get one week’s notice. And that was tolerable. Sometimes, they’d just leave the keys to the truck in the front door mail slot and leave a note attached to their keys that they were gone. And that was bad.
It was really bad because we were always busy and needed everyone to be onboard. We were in the lucky position of having more work at our company than bodies to get the work done. I say “lucky” because we were able to charge the right price and be more selective about whom we did and didn’t work for and the type of work we would and wouldn’t do.
Yet again, it was a problem because we were always in reactive mode when it came to staffing.
How bad was this approach to staffing? My brother, Marty, called our hiring test “The Mirror Test,” which sarcastically meant that in our desperation, all you needed to do was fog the mirror and there was a good chance you could be hired. We were of course kidding….sort of, anyway.
Well, something had to give, and finally it did.
"Hire willing people and provide them the needed skills instead of hiring spoiled veterans with skills and behavior problems.” This has been my mantra since I was a contractor at my own Long Island plumbing, heating and cooling shop.
When did I latch on to this core business philosophy?
Well, it was at 2 a.m. while standing in my office one night talking to my brother, Richie. As usual, in a company full of 25 plus Techs, we were still out there helping late into the night (I mean morning).
Disclaimer: I’ve changed the name to protect the not-so-innocent and I cleaned up the language, but I bet you can only imagine what true New Yorkers would be saying to one another in this situation.
The conversation with my brother went something like this. “Don was the best Tech at their shop? I mean for heaven’s sake he’s barely mediocre compared to our guys. And can you believe how much money we had to pay him to come work here?”
To which I replied, in an exhausted and muffled tone, “I’m sick of it. I’m sick of Techs telling us how great they are in interviews when we hire them or taking the word of others about how great this Tech is.”
In Episode 099 of Strongpreneur Nation host Tom Reber and Al discuss "The 7-Power Approach to Re-Engineering Your Business," including why it is critical to get the core 80 percent (not 100 percent!) of what goes on in your company 80 percent of the time documented in Operating Manuals, the importance of the triangle of communications between CSR to the Dispatcher to the Tech, and much, much more.
What’s Finally Going to Fix Things at Your Company?
Well, let’s start with what won’t fix things at your company.
Putting out a daily fire without focusing on fire prevention is just wrong. Because that fire is bound to break out again tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow until the day you finally lock the front door of your company and say “Goodbye!”
What is going to fix things?
Becoming proactive about running your company instead of letting the company run you. That starts with putting the right tools in place to make running your company day-to-day way saner and way more sustainable.
The biggest and best tool is to document what it takes to run your company, without you having to ride your white stallion to the rescue from sun up to sundown.
That’s why I’m advocating you dedicate a portion of your week—no matter how crazy that week is—to creating a series of documents designed to keep fires from starting in the first place.
Service Contractor Education and Consulting Business Evolves, Takes New Name: Founder Al Levi Renames Business ‘The 7-Power Contractor’ Scottsdale, AZ—April 13, 2017—The 7-Power ContractorSM is the new name for the service contractor education and consulting business founded 15 years ago as Appleseed Business, Inc. by serial entrepreneur, columnist, and author Al Levi. Levi’s website also [...]
I started Appleseed Business, Inc. because I know all too well the enormous stress and struggle for success you face as a contractor. Why? Because I once was one just like you. I worked for 25 years in my family’s plumbing, heating and cooling business.
My family’s business continues to flourish with a 4th generation at work because of a seven-concept system my brothers, dad and I put into place. It’s a powerful approach that helped us run our contracting business with a lot less stress and a lot more success.
The success of those systems allowed me to sell my share to my brothers and retire from that business at age 48, knowing all would be well.
I could have walked away from it all right there. But I felt honor-bound to help my fellow contractors discover these powers and use them to get results, too. And I started Appleseed Business, Inc. to do just that.
That name was a nod to the legendary Johnny Appleseed. I envisioned traveling this great country planting the seeds of systems and processes that would help contracting businesses grow and thrive. And that’s exactly what I’ve been up to for over 15 years now.
I chose “The 7-Power Contractor” because it reflects the business philosophy that was cultivated in me as a young man working in my family’s business. We were serial entrepreneurs who came to know, without a doubt, the key to creating a successful company were those 7-Power concepts.
That’s why, effective immediately the name of my business is changing to The 7-Power Contractor.