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.

Here’s what I find as I travel around and when I talk to fellow contractors.

They have a sloppy cluttered shop giving a wink to employees that where they put stuff doesn’t matter, how they organize their trucks doesn’t matter, how they dress and groom themselves doesn’t matter and finally how they keep customer’s property tidy doesn’t matter all that much either.

It’s a hollow excuse to blame the shoddiness on being too busy. There’s always time to cleanup. And the thing is, this mess isn’t making you more efficient; it’s actually hurting your efficiency.

Here’s what I know. When I work with clients who are willing to stop defending the status quo, things get better for them. I’ve been to shops where there are lights out or blinking on and off above the heads of where their CSRs, Dispatchers and Bookkeepers sit. Or, it’s just so dimly lit it’s downright depressing. The chairs are mismatched or broken. The office staff is wearing ear muffs, gloves and coats because there’s not enough heat in winter time or they’re sweating bullets because there’s not enough cooling in summer. The toilet doesn’t flush. The sink is dripping.

What message does this send especially if you’re a plumbing, heating, cooling or electrical company? Answer: A REALLY BAD ONE!

Once this gets addressed and stuff works at the shop, it lifts the moral of the employees and happy employees treat your customers better and money flows from that.

More times than not, the staff is sitting in the wrong place in the building and it hampers frequent and good interactions that improve good communications which benefits everyone.

When we re-organize where staff sits based on my flat Organizational Chart, communications always improves. When we invest the time and money to clean up the shop, the trucks and the way the staff dresses when they come to work first call to last call, things get better and profits follow.

Hey, how much dead inventory is cluttering your warehouse shelves and your trucks? If you’re already doing an inventory every 6 months or at least once a year, you already know that there’s a pile of stuff you need to cut a good deal with customers to move it, trade it in with your key suppliers for future credits, donate it or toss it and take the loss.

Do you have the necessary dumpsters that can sort out what needs to be recycled, disposed of properly and what can be turned into money for good scrap? Probably not.

I invested in these types of dumpsters, I labeled each of them and had each existing staff member sign off when I gave them the tour to share what goes in each and how. Are you going to tell me you’ve never had your 40 ft dumpster filled with a huge object in the first 5 ft of it so the rest of the 35 ft was useless? I know it used to happen to me all too often until I no longer allowed it.

Do you have a good meeting room or conference room that doubles for both? If not, how can you say your meetings and training are important if the room you’re holding them in screams, “No, they’re not.”

Meetings aren’t a waste of time. Bad meetings are a waste of time. So, commit to following my 10 Meeting Guidelines and watch your meetings move the needle in the direction you want it to go.

Lock up your warehouse and limit access to just a few key people. There’s no way to keep inventory on the shelves and make sure that you have the minimums and maximums of what you must have on hand if everyone can help themselves. It’s not that I don’t trust people. I do. But, it’s your job to help keep honest people honest. Plus, it’s not so much about theft vs. the frustrating feeling of thinking you have 100 boxes of 1/2″ copper elbows only to find you have none because a Tech or Techs helped themselves and put it on their truck figuring they’d use it… someday.

It’s key to set up a good overflow and warranty shelving so items are tagged and someone is watching to make sure we don’t overload the caged in warehouse. We want to prevent getting overloaded with what will become dead inventory and money sitting on your shelf vs. in your bank account. And the warehouse needs to be on top of replenishment of the Techs. You can do it yourself if you’re disciplined but I believe it’s worth the money to find the right key supplier and outsource it so you’re free to concentrate on growing and running your business the right way.

The warehouse needs to have inside of it a power tool area with a small test workbench to make sure power tools are signed both in and out. They get tested and we make sure there are good bits in the drills and that everything is right when we hand it out and when we get it back. Whenever I’ve had clients do this, Techs who first complained came to love it because they know they’re not blamed for normal wear and tear but only for repeated abuse. They really like knowing that the power tool they need to do their work on any given day is tested and will work when they get to the jobsite.

If you’re ready to move instead of fixing up where you are because you’ve outgrown it (or for other reasons) know that you’d be well-served to get your existing place cleaned up along these lines because it makes the move to the new space better if you take the time to plan it out the right way.

Al Levi teaches contractors how to run their businesses with less stress and more success through his book, seminars, webinars and his exclusive 1-to-1 consulting practice.

 Also check out Al’s latest business adventure as part of Zoom Franchise Company at www.zoomdrain.com/franchise-opportunity. It’s a living example of the power of manuals and more— in action.

The 7-Power Contractor book lays out seven simple business powers to help you run your business with Less Stress and More Success. And now, it's available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook. Buy the Book

The Build Your Operating Manuals (BYOM) Program provides you with 90 percent done templates for customer service, dispatcher, and technician manuals as well as  step-by-step instructions on how to edit those manuals, roll them out successfully, train with them, and keep them in your culture. Learn More about the BYOM Program

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