If we met on an elevator ride, could you tell me in that short amount of time what key numbers you need to know to run your business effectively?
And that’s okay for today but not for the long-term health and prosperity of your business and you.
I, along with my brothers and dad, kind of ran our company without knowing the key numbers too. So, know that there’s no preaching here but rather a desire to share what we learned as we went along. Know that we had always believed if you worked incredibly hard and kept expenses down the money would follow.
The answer is sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t. What I mean is the accountants would walk into our office in December and say, “You had a great year. Go buy yourself some tools and trucks and pay yourselves a bonus.” We liked that visit very much!
Unfortunately, there were other years when the accountants would walk into our office in December and say, “This year wasn’t so great. So, we need to keep the numbers looking good and preserve cash. This way the bank will be happy as will your other creditors. In other words, I hope you’ve all got money saved up in your personal bank accounts because you’re not going to get paid for the next month.” We HATED that visit…a lot!
Once we learned the value of doing a budget, setting goals in writing and working proactively on our business vs. just reactively, things got better. We actually created a process to follow that helped us gain control of our business vs. our business always being in control of us. We called it the Five Steps to Gain Control.
What’s the difference between a Leader and a Manager?
I get asked this question a lot when I do seminars and workshops. And even when I do 1-to-1 consulting. It’s a great question because this can be a confusing distinction between the two roles.
To me, a Leader has a vision and they share that vision with others as they try to move the company where they see it should be, so they end up where they want to go.
A Manager is busy getting the day to day stuff handled so the Leader can focus on the direction and the vision.
Leaders and Managers are both critical to the long-term success of any business.
But, there’s an issue that tends to pop up a lot when I work with clients. That issue is where there are Leaders and Managers and they are not sharing the same vision and they’re busy plotting separate courses for the company. It would be akin to have a car barreling down the highway with four people wrestling to grab the steering wheel and drive. Nothing good is going to happen in this scenario.
I grew up working in my family’s heating business. And my dad’s coaching to his very young sons was, “We don’t do winter sports or take winter vacations.”
Basically, it meant every living breathing moment from Labor Day till April 1st was to be spent working in the business.
That made for a crazy time that could wear us and our employees down.
But, the nice thing was my wife saying to me in summer, “You home again?” or, “You’re going out to play golf again?”
That all changed when we branched out into the plumbing and cooling trades. Then, we had to be available 24/7/365. And my wife then began to say, “Are you ever coming home?”. Or, “When are we ever going to have time for a vacation?”.
Ever gone to a great seminar, workshop or group meeting and come away with a ton of great ideas and an even bigger to-do list than when you went?
Bet it happens all the time. Am I right?
And when you come home excited to share with the whole team at work all the fantastic new ideas you’ve learned about and want to put to work at your company, your employees just cringe.
They’re left out of the process is why. Plus, they know you. You get fired up about the latest and greatest thing and everything else is thrown in the “mental dumpster”. And off you go on the next rabbit chase.
The problem is another great idea will pop up that you feel is even more urgent in what I call the “entrepreneurial seizure” moment that flares up all too often in a bad way. Well, having made it part of my Planning Power! work with companies for 15 years, I have the company allow me to do private 1-to-1 conversations with their staff and the overwhelming response to this type of thing is they hate it and they hate you when you do this.
Ready for a new year? Well, whether you are or you’re not, it’s right around the corner.
Most of us are excited about the new year ahead. I think that’s the case because it’s a great time to push the reset button and leave behind what didn’t happen or what happened in a bad way and to look forward to having a brighter future.
That’s why we make New Year’s Resolutions…. right?
As someone who every year swore to eat better and get to the gym on a regular basis but quickly fell off the wagon, I can share that a New Year’s Resolution has no power unless you give it real power.
For your business, that means you need to do the following 5 things if you want to set yourself up for more success in 2018...
Creating a Business To Be Thankful For | Al Levi, The 7-Power Contractor
“I hate my business!”
That’s what I hear periodically when I talk with Contractors. And to me that is sad. But, I get it.
For many, the business they started didn’t turn out the way they planned when they took that big leap and typically left a secure paying job as an employee to go for the brass ring as an owner. It seemed like it would be easier.
The most common complaints I hear are:
1. “This business is making me go broke. I have to keep putting in my own hard-earned savings, borrowed money or what I had hoped would be my retirement money to keep things going and nothing positive seems to happen.”
2. “I work all day and when I get home there’s more work to do. Things like billing, returning calls, putting together bids and a whole lot more than I realized. The day never ends.”
3. “I can’t do at 60 years of age what I did when I was 50 years old let alone what I did in my 20s, 30s and 40s. So, what do I do now?”
4. “I can’t stop working or there’s no business. Heaven forbid I get hurt or sick. It’s scary.”
5. “My employees are infuriating. They act like they’re the owner and I’m their employee.”
Yes, business can be hard. But, it doesn’t have to be.
“Why won’t people at my company take responsibility for getting things done?
Seriously, if I don’t do it myself, it’ll never get done. I don’t know what they do all day but they don’t spend time getting done what I want them to, especially when it comes to important projects.”
This is a standard complaint I get from frustrated owners. And I get it. But, these owners never seek to change their method so they keep getting the same result but only more frustrated as time goes on.
The definition of insanity: Doing the same things over and over expecting different results.
Here’s the sad fact. You’ve trained your staff that if they don’t do what you want the way you want you’ll lose your mind and take the project back. And that is training them to NOT take responsibility or action because you’ll never be pleased with what they do anyway.
When you’re done complaining privately or publicly or both, you take back these projects and things that need to get done at your company so you remain overloaded. Am I right?
I know why you stopped delegating anything to anyone and it’s because you’ve been trained by your staff that it’s a waste of time and money to do so.
This used to happen to me at my company. Keep in mind we had grown to 70 employees and still no one was able to help me get things done. I blamed them. But, the problem was actually me.
I never took the time to delegate anything to anyone properly because I was in too big of a rush and I assumed they were too. So, I dumped it on them vs. delegating it to them.
“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” That was told to me by a very smart contractor who had reached the end of his career and was lamenting how he had wasted so many business opportunities.
What he was speaking to is what he felt he learned all too late and that is…just because you, the owner or manager, CAN do something it doesn’t mean you SHOULD or that you’re the right one to be doing it.
It’s a fact that most of us owners and managers started as Techs and it was our ability to do pretty much any tough job they could throw at us that helped us rise through the ranks. It’s also what enabled us to believe we could succeed when we chose to open our own business.
Unfortunately, your ability to do everything is a double-edge sword. In fact, this skillset and mind set may well be what stymies the growth of your business. Because if you’re always the best choice to do it all then you better figure out how to clone yourself. The reason is you’re going to run out of both time and energy and then opportunities will be squandered.
No, I’m not talking about what’s now legal in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington in varying degrees.
I’m talking about Grow Your Own: Developing Great Employees that are homegrown vs. store bought.
Trying to pirate away staff from your competitors by only hiring “experienced” staff to work at your company is a stop gap approach which is neither effective for growing your company or even maintaining it.
The real path forward is to grow your own great employees by committing to hiring willing people and providing them with all the skills training they’ll need. This approach puts an end to the insanity of hiring spoiled talent and trying to rewire them. I know. I tried for years.
Hiring willing people and providing the skills training applies not just to Technicians. It applies to all the positions at your company.
What are the many positions at your company today? My guess is you don’t really know because you’ve never formalized it.
How do I know?
I know because in my consulting career I’ve rarely arrived at a client, no matter how big a company they were, that had the type of Organizational Chart (aka Org Chart) that defined all the boxes it takes to run their company. At best, some of them had a vague idea in their head about who does what. Yes, I said in their head because it was just assumed everyone would know.
Ah, the temperatures are dropping as we head into the fall (full disclaimer: it’s still hot where I live in Phoenix). Kids are headed back to school. You might be drifting into thoughts of watching the leaves change color depending on where you live. And maybe you have thoughts of going apple picking, drinking cider or indulging in one of the 1 million pumpkin concoctions there are these days.
The change of the season also means it’s time for you to get back to school too. As contractors, we can never stop learning. There’s always more to know about the technology that’s changing at breakneck speed all around. You’ve got to stay up or you’ll be left in the dust. This also applies to sharpening your business skills all the time by relentlessly pursuing more education and then getting down to the most important thing...getting things implemented.
The type of back to school I’m referring to is committing to having super effective in-house training — the type of training that separates you from your competition. This training focuses on honing three types of skills a Service Tech must have, which means you’re always working to get better. This is what increases their mastery and ultimately puts more profit on your balance sheet: