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5 Ways to Set Yourself Up for More Success in 2018

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…

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The Danger of Trying to Do It All

“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.

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Back to School: Not Just for Kids

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.

Hang on.

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:

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Distance Learning Works…. Really!

I’ll admit it. I was skeptical that distance learning could be a real learning experience for service contractors. I grew up when distance learning meant taking correspondence courses through the mail! (I’m dating myself, I know.)

Today, the availability of increasingly powerful web-based applications such as GoToMeeting, Join.Me, Zoom, etc., has enabled distance learning to evolve into a highly effective way to transmit knowledge to contractors farther and faster than ever before.

For the service contractor, connecting with a teacher or trainer remotely has a lot of advantages over traditional in-person training. You can learn from the comfort of your own office, rather than having to leave your business. You get exposure to students from other parts of the country or even the world whose insights and input you never would have heard otherwise. Distance learning provides you with the leverage that comes with being a part of a group where you can reach out and help each other. And learning can continue on “after hours” as opposed to only when you’re in the class in person

Distance learning can also be done on your own. Some of us want to go at our own pace. We intuitively know ourselves, and what that optimal pace of learning is. Content and tutorials can be stored in the cloud in applications such as Dropbox or loaded up on a Google Drive so that you can access it at your leisure. (In our case, there isn’t much leisure so it’s when your long day is finally done.) You can read an assignment or watch a video over and over until the content sinks in.

There are a few downsides…

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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 Right Way to Make Time for the Holidays

Got more time at the end of a workday than you know what to do with? Not likely.

How about finding extra time during the holidays to stop and enjoy as a team the holidays let alone finding extra time to be available for fun and family time? Not likely.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way.

How do I know? I was once a stressed-out contractor just like you. I fell in the hole of being steamrolled by the holidays every year. And it was doubly bad when it was a crazy cold winter and we were maxed out covering heating calls and attending to frozen plumbing pipes.

What changed for me and my team?

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Why Most Family Businesses Don’t Work 
and How The 7-Power Contractor Approach Can Help

I love all contracting businesses but I’m particularly fond of family businesses. After all, I was the 3rd generation at my family’s plumbing, heating and cooling business. And I’ve been coaching many family-owned contracting businesses for the past 15 years.

Here are just a few of the troubling challenges I see in many family businesses:

  1. The owners can never stop working because there’s no real business that can run without them. This is particularly problematic when the owners want to sell the business to the kids because all that does is put a ball and chain on the next generation.
  2. The owners give the business to the kids too cheap or with no objective benchmarks so they end up having to come back and (hopefully) rescue things.

What can you do about this and other challenges?

The very first place to start is with an organizational chart that spells out all the boxes it takes to run your company – even if your name is in every box. This org chart is helpful to any company but it’s even more important to a business filled with family members.

Next is to create a Master Project list of projects and habits that need to be put in place to make the company better.

The Master Project list then gets whittled down to a Top 30 list of projects and habits using these two filters: 1.) The project will either fix the biggest problem or challenge or 2.) give the company the greatest chance to grow and be profitable in the coming year.

Finally, the Top 30 project list gets whittled down again using the same two filters to until you have a Top Five project list that is agreed upon by the whole family. Going through this process helps to focus the family on accomplishing the same things to mutual benefit.

Where else do family businesses struggle?

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Why is Al the Big Man in Australia?

Al Levi of Appleseed Business talks about planning, operations, staffing, family business, and how to make your contracting business better on The Site Shed in Australia!

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Run Your Contracting Business with Less Stress and More Success | The Site Shed Podcast

In this episode, TSS046, Matt Jones, host of The Site Shed Podcast and I get together for some Tool Box Talk around the systems and processes that my brothers and I developed for our family’s plumbing, heating and cooling business….

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Why Buy Another Contracting Business Book?

Good question!

Is there a shortage of business books out there or business information out there on how to be successful in the contracting business? Nope!

Can trying to figure out what to do with all that information be overwhelming and confusing? Yes!

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