Al Levi

Does Group Learning Really Work?

By Al Levi / August 2, 2017 / Comments Off on Does Group Learning Really Work?

Does group learning really work? Yes!

But, there are some things that need to happen to get the outcome you desire.

Group learning can work if you’re willing to work.

I learned that a long time ago. And I learned that when I’d go off to association training and trade classes that if I committed to setting aside thinking about my business while I was in class the learning was best. Plus, I learned that my being willing to roll up my sleeves and participate when the opportunity presented itself meant real benefits to the group learning experience.

             

I found being around other like-minded contractors (especially when they weren’t my direct competitors) determined that I learned way more than I could have by either reading a book or going online to learn. Don’t get me wrong. There are times you do need to do individual learning but it has its place and its limits.

There’s real energy when a group gathers to all learn. The learning can be enhanced by connecting with a group because we’re social animals after all and we like being part of a pack.

That said going for group learning worked best for me only when I made a list of my goals and my objectives for the training and meetings I was going to attend. The results in a group setting for me and those I’ve taught who have shared with me is that the results were always better and long lasting than just solo research and learning.

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The 7-Power Contractor on Manuals and Training | HomeTalk Media

By Al Levi / August 1, 2017 / Comments Off on The 7-Power Contractor on Manuals and Training | HomeTalk Media

In this radio segment for HomeTalk Media, Al joins home improvement expert (and restauranteur) Michael King “The Cajun Contractor” to talk about the qualities of good contractors, the importance of manuals and training, why Al created operating manuals at his company, and much, much more. (Also, it was lots of fun.)

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Is there a manual for success? Yes! | Blue Collar Proud Show

By Al Levi / July 24, 2017 / Comments Off on Is there a manual for success? Yes! | Blue Collar Proud Show

On Episode 82 of the Blue Collar Proud Show, Al joins hosts Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill to talk about how creating operating manuals that covers 80 percent of what you do in a friendly way and implementing straightforward organizational charts can take you a long way to transform your business so you can run it with less stress and more success.

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Do What’s in the Book and You’re Off the Hook

By Al Levi / July 18, 2017 / Comments Off on Do What’s in the Book and You’re Off the Hook

Growing up a New Yorker, I appreciate straight talking people who say what they mean and do what they say. And I’m pleased to say that has been my experience so far with every one of the business owners I have had the privilege to work with. Midwesterners do this especially well, and without the New York attitude and sarcasm!

But I must admit the New Yorker in me tends to go off unfiltered when an owner in Iowa (or Illinois, or Indiana) tells me, “I don’t know if I can get buy in here for the Operating Manuals.”

“Really?” I reply. “I got these manuals in at my own company, a tough union shop in New York City. It doesn’t get any harder than that. And you don’t think you can get them to buy in here in Iowa…really?”

Despite the quality of my wisecrack, the owner usually remains unconvinced. So after taking a few minutes to compose myself, I share the story of how I got techs to willingly comply at my own shop.

Before we had manuals, one of my many jobs was Installation Manager. In this role, I was overseeing five install crews a day. One of our very best installers had been flipping pizzas when he entered our Apprentice training classes and had risen quickly up through the ranks.

One time I was handing out the assignments for the day and I said to him, “Hey, I can’t be there at the normal 10 a.m. time to go over what I want done here on the new boiler and heating work but I can get there around 2 p.m. Is that going to work?”

He quickly scanned the paperwork I had given him and said, “Not a problem. I got you covered.”

At 2 p.m. I arrived at the customer’s home. As I walked around the basement and saw what had been done, steamed poured from my ears. I pulled the Installer outside and said, “This is nothing like I wanted!”

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How Are You Judging Your Staff’s Performance?

By Al Levi / July 5, 2017 / Comments Off on How Are You Judging Your Staff’s Performance?

With all new consulting clients, I start by asking the following: “How are you judging your staff’s performance?”

The answers are pretty much the same and they go something like this, “We think.” “We’ve been told.” “Because I’ve been in business for a while I know who is and isn’t performing well.”

To which my reply is, “So, you’re basing your judgment of them either doing a good job or a bad job at the work they’re hired to do based on opinion or other subjective measures. Am I right?”

With a sheepish look on their face, they mutter, “Yes. I guess so.”

I know this sounds embarrassing but it’s not meant to be anything but helpful. I know exactly how they feel and how they got where they are because I too once judged my employees’ performance solely on opinion and subjective feelings! Nothing in my company was based on an objective standard until we made a change.

So, how do you tip the scales in the right direction of objective vs. subjective judgement when it comes to evaluating employees’ performance?

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Becoming a 7-Power Contractor | WMAP Radio — World’s Most Amazing People

By Al Levi / June 26, 2017 / Comments Off on Becoming a 7-Power Contractor | WMAP Radio — World’s Most Amazing People

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.

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Attitude vs. Behavior: What’s the Difference?

By Al Levi / June 20, 2017 / Comments Off on Attitude vs. Behavior: What’s the Difference?

“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.

Based on…what?

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!

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What if I Train Them and They Leave?

By Al Levi / June 6, 2017 / Comments Off on What if I Train Them and They Leave?

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?’”

“Yes.”

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.”

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I Can Do Everything… In a Job Interview

By Al Levi / May 24, 2017 / Comments Off on I Can Do Everything… In a Job Interview

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.

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Gaining Power Over Your Business | Business Insanity Talk Radio

By Al Levi / May 17, 2017 / Comments Off on Gaining Power Over Your Business | Business Insanity Talk Radio

On Episode 429 of Business Insanity Talk Radio, host (and small business expert) Barry Moltz and I discuss the Big Idea behind The 7-Power Contractor approach, which is “Gain power over your business or your business will have power over you!”

We also covered what prevent owners from setting up processes so their businesses can run without them, where to start, and how the 7-Power concepts can help.

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