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Attitude vs. Behavior: What’s the Difference?

Attitude vs. Behavior | Al Levi The 7-Power Contractor

“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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By | June 20th, 2017|Leadership Power, Staffing Power|

What if I Train Them and They Leave?

What if I Train Them and They Leave? | Al Levi The 7-Power Contractor

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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By | June 6th, 2017|Leadership Power, Staffing Power|

I Can Do Everything… In a Job Interview

I Can Do Everything! The Interview | Al Levi The 7-Power Contractor

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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By | May 24th, 2017|Leadership Power, Staffing Power|

Hire the Willing and Provide Skills or Pay the Price

Hiring the Willing and Provide Skills or Pay the Price | Al Levi The 7-Power Contractor

"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.”

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By | May 9th, 2017|Operating Power, Staffing Power|

What’s Finally Going to Fix Things at Your Company?

What's Finally Going to Fix Things at My Company? | Al Levi The 7-Power Contractor

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.

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By | April 18th, 2017|Leadership Power, Operating Power|

Appleseed Business Has Grown Into The 7-Power Contractor…Here’s Why!

Appleseed Business Has Grown Into The 7-Power Contractor. Here's Why!

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.

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By | April 13th, 2017|Marketing Power|

Urgent vs. Important But Not Urgent

The 7-Power Contractor

Everything in business is Important!

Not everything in business is Urgent. Thank heavens!

The trouble starts when all your focus is on fighting fires—dealing only with Urgent items—leaving no time to focus on any Important-But-Not-Urgent items.

When you’re firefighting day after day, how will you ever work on the importance of Fire Prevention?

Answer: You won’t!

This is the daily struggle we face as business owners, and even moreso as Contractors.

All of it feels like it’s urgent. This is especially true when there’s an unhappy customer yelling at you and threatening to post their unhappiness online to everyone on planet Earth.

Breathe.

Now, you and I both know that if everything is urgent, there’s no way to prioritize and maximize your and your staff’s day. You must develop the ability to separate the Important-But-Not-Urgent things that are going on at your company today, just like they did yesterday, that are likely to continue that way until the final moment you put the key in your office door.

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By | April 4th, 2017|Leadership Power, Operating Power|

The Secret Bonus Of Operating Manuals

The Secret Bonus of Operating Manuals | Al Levi The 7-Power Contractor

Working with consulting clients, I create the Operating Manuals early on to help them immediately minimize the daily chaos in their businesses. For fast-growing shops, it allows them to keep growing in a smarter way.

All good stuff.

But, I let them discover “The Secret Bonus” of these operating manuals, which is that they boost sales. Most owners realize this right away, because the best shops closely track sales data.

Here are the top 7 reasons why having operating manuals in place boosts sales:

The CSR Manual trains the CSRs to put Techs in front of the right customer. This frees the Tech up from wasting valuable productivity time explaining pricing and payment policies. This is learned in weekly meetings using the CSR Manual for phone role-playing.

By | March 21st, 2017|Leadership Power, Operating Power|

Callbacks—They’re Déjà Vu All Over Again

Déjà Vu All Over Again (Or, How to Minimize Callbacks Once and For All) | Al Levi

“Déjà vu All Over Again” is a famous quote by the late, great Yogi Berra. I’ve lived this scenario, and I’m betting you have, too. I’m talking about callbacks--the bane of the contracting industry.

I worked in my family plumbing, heating and cooling business (today they also do electrical), so I know first-hand how demoralizing and damaging callbacks can be.

Here’s why:

1. Your customers have to needlessly take off extra time from their paying jobs to be there for your Techs again and again.

2. Callbacks rob your ability to do new service and install work because you have to redo a repair for no money.

3. They ruin your good reputation, especially today, when unhappy customers go online and tell the world.

Yikes!

By | March 7th, 2017|Leadership Power, Operating Power|

How Great Techs Become Successful Owners

How Great Techs Become Successful Owners | Al Levi The 7-Power Contractor

You quit that tech job at an established plumbing, heating, cooling, and/or electrical company because you figured you could be your own boss, make your own hours and charge a little less, and the money would come flowing in.

Maybe yes. Maybe no.

If you’re reading this I’m betting you also discovered there’s so much more to running a successful business than just being a good tech. And if you’re like most, you’re probably not completely sure what all of that “more” is!

Don’t get me wrong, actually knowing technical stuff for the work you do is helpful. But, it can be a double-edged sword if you’re the only one who can run a call the right way (at least, in your mind, anyway). It automatically limits your growth.

By | February 21st, 2017|Leadership Power, Operating Power|