Al Writes

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5 Reasons You Can’t Run Your Business from the Beach Forever

A few years back I worked with a phenomenal contractor, Mark Paup of Golden Rule Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, in Des Moines Iowa.

Mark had grown his business into a systematic and money making company. And as I like to do with former clients, I called him up just to see how things were going.

He asked me a question, “Al, do you ever just get to sit on the beach, and it all runs without you forever?”

I replied with the answer he knew I would, and that was, “No…”

And after the briefest of pauses, I continued with, “You absolutely don’t have to be so heavily involved in the day-to-day running of the business like you were when we first started. And you are actually encouraged to take time away from the business because you deserve it based on all the hard work you’ve done with me. It’s actually good for your team for you to let them run things without you.

“That said, you’re the face of this business, and you must keep a finger on the pulse of it to keep it headed in the leadership direction we created during Leadership Power! if you’re to reach the near-term goals set and the long-term goals still ahead.”

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Your Employees Need to Know the “Why” because It’s More than Just the Money

The purpose, or what I call the “Why” for what your employees do at work, is becoming more important to them than just collecting a paycheck.

I know this to be so because I witnessed this when I was a contractor and now as a consultant to contractors. This long-time trend has become the norm. And I think it’s not just a good thing… I think it’s a great thing.

This may seem scary to you. Or, you may be in disbelief that this could be true. A quick review of articles and blogs online will validate what I’m saying here.

And if you’re an owner or manager who is over 50 years of age, you probably grew up in the trades with being told, “This is what I want done”. There was no discussion. You were just expected to do it because your boss told you to.

But having worked with consulting clients over the last few years, all I see are Millennials and now even some of the Generation Z arriving at work.  This movement is in full swing, so doing things because “I told you so” is long gone. In general, they’re not going to engage their heart and soul into anything at work until they know the “Why” they’re doing something.

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Personality Profiling – Tendencies vs. Absolute Truths

As part of Staffing Power, I advise my clients to make sure that Personality Profiling be a part of the hiring process.

To be clear, I don’t like the term “Personality Profiling” because it feels, to me, manipulative. Profiling is just a very bad word unto itself.  That’s why I prefer the term Motivational Mapping.

Motivational Mapping is seeking to know how the new hire interacts in the world or at least how they view things. That promotes better communication because if you know the words they want to hear they’re more likely to be more motivated.

This switch of terms to Motivational Mapping isn’t meant to be a game of semantics. It’s more about recognizing that the term fits better because it’s about the things that motivate us. That’s different because we’re all wired differently. All of which I think is a really a good thing as we don’t want to live in a world of clones.

That said, we all have tendencies. And recognizing those tendencies early on will help set up the potential new hires to better succeed at your company. It can also reveal if a new hire is a good fit for your company. That’s why you want to pay attention to what the Motivational Mapping is revealing.

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Bad Employee or Bad Fit for Your Company?

Is there such a thing as a bad employee?

Yes, there is.

Is there such a thing as an employee who’s just a bad fit at your company?

Yes, there is.

How do you know if you have a bad employee or just a bad fit for your company?

Ah… that’s a little trickier! Good news is I’ve got some things to share with you that I think will help you make a better decision for yourself.

But I must let you know that until you have a systematic way of doing business at your company, your employees are at risk which puts you and your company at risk.

The only fair way for an employee to be judged good or bad is to have things documented in writing that helps your employees fill the box or boxes on your Org Chart. More than that, you also need to have the associated orientation process that gets them up to speed and provides the metrics they will be judged on. This coupled with never-ending training is the only way to give an employee the ability to step up and be a good-to-great employee at your company.

Tough news here…

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The Right Way To Cut Business Costs (Part 2)

As promised at the end of Part 1 of The Right Way to Cut Business Costs, I’m going to share here in Part 2 the rest of the 5 most common areas to look to cut expenses the right way.

The remaining three are:

3) Inventory is in overload and out of control. The vast majority of shops I visit when I first do my 1-to-1 consulting are way overloaded with dead inventory that is costing them money. To me, it costs money because they could be trading this excess inventory off for credits with a supplier or sold off at a discount to generate money. It’s easy to think, “I should have those items on my shelf because if I buy in bulk it’ll be a good deal,” or “I want a lot of it in my warehouse because I don’t want to run out.” It’s all flawed thinking.

The best thing to do is what I call “Exit the Warehouse” business process, and that means finding a great partner with a great vendor or even two great vendors if need be. They can help take control of what you keep in stock, and they can help you arrive at the correct minimums and maximums for each item. It requires restricting access to the warehouse itself to a very limited amount of…

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The Right Way To Cut Business Costs (Part 1)

Are all the expenses you’re “used to” carrying still pulling their weight?

Probably not!

Getting a better handle on this means you need to dedicate yourself to getting Financial Power in place.

Where should you start when it comes to cutting the right expenses in the right way?

Start by looking at all your expenses from the prior year listed in your Profit and Loss Statement (aka P&L). Take out a yellow legal pad if you want a manual moment or open up a Word document and list them all. Then, sort that list into must expenses and nice-to-have expenses.

It’ll be tough to do this because everything you now spend money on seemed like a good idea at the time. But a sinister thing about some expenses is they may be small expenses, but if they’re occurring every month, for instance, there is a compounding effect, and not in a good way. The reality is all these “small” recurring expenses add up.

Here are two of the five most common areas to look at when it comes to cutting expenses:

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Leading with Humor

Wouldn’t you agree that the work we do as contractors can literally be life and death? It’s serious business!

I definitely feel this is true.

A plumbing or drain company keeps good water from bad water. Just go online and look up the plague. You’ll see what existed in the world before proper  plumbing and sanitation changed it for the better. And plumbing and drain companies keep these systems functioning the way they must so we can stay alive and avoid illness. Without us, many people would be sick and dying.

A heating and cooling company not just keeps us warm in the winter and cool in the summer (which is very nice). In extreme cases for the young, the elderly, or the infirm, it too can be life and death. Remember, we “play with fire” as I told my own techs. Plus, we “play” with gas and fuel oil and even high voltage that in the wrong hands, untrained personnel, or even the inattentive tech can become very dangerous.

And electricians literally wrangle lightning and light our homes, power our communications abilities, and, in many homes, it is the “fuel” that provides the heating and cooling too. We take it for granted, but here too a lack of seriousness and attention to detail can cause real damage to life and property.

All of this is serious business.

BUT we can’t be deadly serious from sunup to sundown. We do need to be focused when we’re doing our work in every phase of our business, but we’re human beings, and without a break from it… it will wear you down if there’s no time to lighten up.

Here are just three ways humor helps:

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Beware Actions Born of Boredom

Many a client throughout the years has told me when I said they were taking actions out of boredom with the status quo, “Bored? I can hardly catch my breath!”

Maybe… maybe not.

You can be crazy busy, but activity can serve to mask the underlying boredom that can creep into our life at work. This is especially so in a maturing company. The goal for leadership must be to make their companies perform consistently better, and this can take its toll.

Boredom usually takes hold because this never ending-process is tough and, frankly, boring. So, they respond to it by starting a bunch of new projects that take away attention from the main objective they said they were pursuing.

Here are just four ways boredom can play out in a bad way:

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Marketing to Pick Up Dollars, Not Dimes

If you’ve been in the service contracting business for any length of time you know what it’s like when business slows down and money gets tight. And if you’re like most service contractors, marketing spend is usually the first thing to go!

My dad, Irving, called that “stepping over dollars to pick up dimes.”

Why? Because without marketing your phones are going to go dead and/or stay dead.

It might seem counter-intuitive but those slow times are actually the best times to be doing testimonial-based marketing, which I’ve seen work well not just for my own service contracting business but also for dozens of other contracting businesses ranging from plumbing, heating, cooling, electrical, roofing, garage door service—to name just a few.

To make sure the marketing of your contracting business hits the mark you’ll want to focus your time, energy and your money on three main drivers such as:

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Actions Speak Louder than Words – Fix Your Own First

“Do as I Say, Not as I Do” is a common refrain from a frustrated boss.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could say this and all your employees would do just this? Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

If what you’re saying doesn’t match what you are doing, you’re busted.

The reason is all eyes are upon you all the time, and as the owner, you can’t hide. I understand that no one is perfect when it comes to everything they do as a leader, but the fact is your actions speak louder than your words.

Think of it this way: imagine your dad or mom are telling you as a young teenager that you have to quit smoking because it is dangerous to your health. The problem is they’re telling you this as the ashes are dropping off the cigarette dangling from their mouths.

You see it for what it is.

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