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Planning Power

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Who Goes to Training and Seminars? Probably Just You…

In the beginning of my work career, just my brother, Richie, and I attended advanced training at my company. After all, we were never going to leave the company, unlike the possibility that one of our employees might get this costly training and then leave us.

Did I say we were smart or thinking ahead at this point in our lives?… No!

What happened is when Richie and I went to Fireye® controls training in the Boston area, as an example, we were the only ones who would then be capable of handling the big commercial boilers when the client would call. Lucky us!

Nope, not really.

That’s because we had commercial and industrial accounts that operated 24/7/365, and despite our having four rotating crews of 4 Techs on until 2 AM, they would get to a job like this and have to call… you guessed it… Al or Richie.

Well, we hated that. Especially when they called us in the middle of the night or over the weekend. They were on a paid shift, mind you, and not On-Call. But they were stuck, and we blamed them for not knowing what to do.

Remember, it was our decision to not send them to the same training we had gone to.

Well, Richie and I may not have been forward thinking about this policy, but we were not dumb, and we quickly woke up to the reality that only by sending our Techs to the same training and seminars we attended could they ever be as effective as they needed to be.

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90% Chance Nothing Bad Will Happen

There’s a 90% chance nothing really bad will happen at your company if you spend at least two hours a week disconnecting from your business to work on it. BUT, there’s a 100% chance that failure is imminent if you’re unwilling to do this.

Pretty dramatic? Nope!

What separates the most successful contractors I’ve worked with from the ones for whom success eludes them, has nothing to do with how smart they are or their being in the right marketplace or anything like that. It was their ability to focus on getting things implemented at their company.

I’ve had clients pay me a lot of money to come and work with them. I can tell you I don’t vary my approach all that much, but I don’t use a cookie-cutter approach. That’s because I do tweak it to fit the type of contracting business I’m working with and where the existing company is on the business spectrum when I first arrive.

The reason I’ve been hired over the years to help contractors is…the business has reached an impasse (otherwise I wouldn’t be there). The impasse is different for different owners. Either they’ve grown to a size where they’ve run out of hours in a day, days in a week, weeks in a month and months in a year to get it all done. They can’t figure out how to clone themselves, so they are stuck. I also work with fast growing companies where they have grown chaotically, and they have tried to hire and throw people at the problems because they too realize they’re stuck. Both types of clients learn quickly that these issues will continue until they commit to work on changing how they run their business.

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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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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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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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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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A 5-Step Process to Gain Control at Your Contracting Business

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?

Probably not.

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!

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The Difference Between a Leader and a Manager

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.

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Top Five List

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.

Why?

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.

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