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Al Writes

Mitigating Bad PR

The threat of Bad PR (aka Public Relations) used to keep me up at night when I was a contractor. It doesn’t take much Bad PR to make it tough for your company to grow or, if it’s bad enough, to go out of business.

And as you grow your company and more and more people are at work each day, there are more and more people who can slip up or even give the appearance that they’ve slipped up.

What can you do to mitigate – or better yet – avoid Bad PR?

Learn how to play both offense and defense.

Note: As a CYA (aka Cover Your…Anatomy), you’re welcome to get advice from your own professionals who specialize on any and all of this. There’s a lot at stake.

In the meanwhile, I’m going to share my take on some examples of the high stakes game we, as contractors, must play…

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Moving into Next Year

This year I helped the three clients I work with one-to-one either revamp their existing shop, move into a new shop or both.

I love doing that because it’s a great thing to move. It’s also a great thing to just cleanup and organize your existing shop to make it better.

So, what are you going to do right now to make next year better?

One of the very best ways to make your next year better is to organize your workspace or make moving to a new place a priority. Then, it can better serve your business today and over the next 3 years even better than it does today.

Why is this so important? Your workspace and the way you maintain it is either setting the bar to a high level of professionalism or lowering the bar that will just keep getting lower and lower. Trust me I know.

I know because I allowed all of what I’m going to share below to happen at my company years back. And I kept forgiving myself for it all being a cluttered mess with the same tired an untrue excuses. That is until one-day I wanted it to get better so I stopped defending the status quo and got busy.

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7-Powers for a Successful Business | Cabinet Maker Profit System

At its core, every business is the same. Everyone is trying to make a profit, and in order to make a profit, you have to run your business in the right way. Running your business in the right way requires 7 powers.

On Cabinet Maker Profit System, Al Levi joins host Dominic Rubino to discuss the 7 powers that you need. Tune in to discover these 7 critical powers.

You can check out the episode <"https://cabinetmakerprofitsystem.com/ep-40-al-levi-the-7-power-contractor/">here. It’s now live!

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It’s Not All About the Work

Your business is supposed to serve your life, not your life serving your business.

It’s easy to forget, but that is probably what you felt your business would be when you first got into business. And I know how easy it is to drift into a never-ending compromise in your personal life to serve your business.

That’s not to say I agree with the speakers who confess that they put hours upon hours into their business to become a success, but they sacrificed their personal lives in the process. You shouldn’t have to do the same.

Well, I feel you shouldn’t sacrifice your personal life forever but that you do have to do the work and invest the time to gain control of your business or it will always control you.

So, I do feel you have to spend your time, your effort and even some of your savings if you’re going to make your company a success.

What I also believe is you need to learn how to work smarter, not harder.

There’s a big difference.

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Police State or Permissive Where Anything Goes?

I was working with a client a number of years ago and he was a fantastic contractor, as were his partners. The majority of my work was with this one partner who was a smart, effective and knowledgeable leader of their fast growing plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical company.

He was the rare owner who not only knew the technical side of the business, but he and his partners knew what it took to grow a company, which meant learning and implanting the business side of things.

My reason for being called in to consult was that they had experienced explosive growth and they were suffering the ill effects that came with it. He and his partners were realizing that the way they answered their phones, to the way they dispatched, to the way they had their Techs run calls, had to be fixed.

They (not me) had said they had the worst group of Customer Service Representatives (aka CSRs) ever. And what made it worse is that they had eight of them. Sad truth is… they were bad. At least, they were when we first started.

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Office Politics and Gossip

My dad raised my brothers and sisters and me on the phrase, “If you’ve got nothing good to say, say nothing.”

Well, in corporate America and elsewhere in our society today where face-to-face and cyberbullying is rampant… that ship has sailed.

The question is should you participate in this?

In the old days (think Seinfeld TV show era… no… not the syndicated reruns or what you pull up on your phone from YouTube) there was always the water cooler topics of the day. The show itself was a catalyst for talking about a lot of things that had formally been taboo or just not thought of, or at least never expressed that way was safe or kind of safe to talk about.

The reality is that in our more politically correct era too many topics are off the table for discussion (probably should have always been the case), and we can weigh the pros and cons to that, but the reality is that there is office dynamite – that’s office gossip and office politics (different than the politics of our government but also something highly charged if pushed too far).

The truth is that we must accept that you’re never going to totally stop the Office Gossip and Politics because we, as people, love to talk and hear ourselves talk, and there’s a part of us that likes throwing others under the bus, and that for some is human nature.

What role do we as owners have in all of this?

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Write Your Game Statements

When I begin work with a new client, I seek to understand their company and how it ticks today. I also need to understand how the owner or owners function today.

That’s why I like to get to Leadership Power before I dive into Marketing Power….what?

Yep, the reason for doing Leadership Power before Marketing Power is to clarify the owner’s vision of what the company’s mission, position in the market (or how they go to market that differentiates them) and what they hope it will look like when they’re all done. Otherwise, the Marketing Power is off to work in the wrong direction vs. in synch with the goals and mandates that Leadership Power identifies.

I run them through a series of exercises that help reveal to both of us what they really want from their business and their personal life in the next 3 to 5 years. Yes, your business life is directly tied to your personal life. It’s not meant to be all consuming as it is to many contractors. Your business should be designed to serve your personal life, not the other way around.

To me, the often used phrase that speaks to Leadership Power is, “If you don’t care where you end up, any road will do!”

I don’t know about you, but I know myself and my clients, and we care an awful lot about where we end up; so, that’s why we spend time defining in WRITING the following:

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The 7-Power Contractor Testimonial by Matt Jones

“Loving the book. I had read it before, but reading it again – it’s like a totally different read in a good way.”

“As a regular guest on my podcast, The Site Shed, Al is always a wealth of information on so many topics.

When Al first came on the show a number of years ago, I read The 7 Power Contractor in digital format, and it was great. Recently, however, I have re-read the book in paperback form, and it’s like I’ve read an entirely different publication.

It’s potentially a testament to where I’m currently at in my business; however, it’s like it’s been written for me.

**I should add at this point that I am no longer a contractor either. Sure, my clients are; however, I run a digital agency and a business podcast. Regardless, this book is more relevant than ever to me, so don’t make the mistake of thinking that this book will only benefit contractors.

The key takeaways for me have been Al’s ‘Meeting Manifesto’ and his detail around Organizational Charts. Of late, I have learned how important it is for businesses to have those things in order.

On behalf of myself and my audience, I want to say a big thanks to Al for his tireless commitment to the industry and his ongoing dedication to helping individuals and businesses become the best they can be.”

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What Are You So Busy Doing?

“What are you so busy doing?”

This is what I ask contractors who reach out to me and even those I work with. It’s not that I don’t know how it feels like there aren’t enough hours in a day to get it all done. But, I’ve been a contractor, so I do know that you can get it all done, but only if you’re busy with the right things.

Actually, I hate it when someone keeps telling me they can’t get their projects done because they’re too busy. What’s the purpose in saying this? Pity? Sympathy? Empathy? Any other buzz words I’ve missed? Does it help get things done?…..NO!

Get over it!

We’re all busy. There’s a million and one ways to be distracted and overwhelmed. Let’s start with the miracle of technology. You can now be reached by email, text, Facetime, Slack and a whole lot more ways than that. It all seemed so great when we got our smart phones. Now, we have to live with the fact that we’re addicted to them and we are pulled away from focusing on the right things.

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Goals, Beliefs and Actions: The Foundation of Leadership

When I first moved out to Phoenix, I brought the souvenirs of my career with me – a bad back and bad knees. My wife suggested that I sign up for a Yoga class, which I did with the sole purpose of my getting some physical relief.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I now love Yoga! It has been life-altering both physically and mentally.

One day as I was stretching out in class, the teacher was talking about some different philosophies. One of the things she mentioned is that if you set goals and you have actions attached to them – but you never seem to reach those goals – the step you might be missing is belief.

An illustration would be you’re a heavy person, like I’ve been most of my life, and you have the goal of losing weight. You know all of the actions – eat right, eat smaller portions, and exercise more often. But if you don’t believe that you’re a thin person – if you believe that you’ll always be a heavy person – it’s never going to change. So what we need to tie together are our goals (what we want to achieve) and what we really believe. And make sure that what we believe is in sync with our goals. And then take the appropriate actions that will make those goals a reality.

This applies to running a business every bit as much as it applies to your life.

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