Leadership Power Archives - The 7-Power Contractor

Leadership Power

READ MORE ABOUT Leadership Power

Will They All Quit if You Put in Operating Manuals?

Will they all quit if you put in Operating Manuals?

The short answer is, “No!”

The reason I say that is I did it at my own plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical company decades ago. We were a NYC Union shop and, we didn’t lose anyone.

And I know this is a fear of some contractors as I have done so many free 30-minute calls with prospective clients who would share this fear with me. To help, I’d share this following story.

One of my many different jobs at my very busy shop was being the Install Manager where I was running five Install Crews a day. Each morning, I’d setup the job files and debrief each Lead Installer on what to expect and let them know I’d make the rounds to check in on how things were going.

One day…

Read More

Read More...

5 Signs Your Business is Growing Too Fast

Can a contracting business really grow too fast? You bet it can.

I remember waking up at 6 a.m. for the second day in a row after working until 2 a.m. the night before at my family’s 70-person plumbing, heating, cooling and now electrical company only to face another day of massive stress and thinking, “At this growth pace, something’s got to change, or I’ll be a rich dead guy.”

That was not my goal and I bet it’s not yours either!

You were handling it—somehow—until you one day you just couldn’t and that’s when the wheels started to fall off or at the very least began to wobble. It’s like you’re in a batting cage and the pitches you used to be able to hit are now coming so fast you can’t even get the bat off your shoulder. That’s how it feels when you’re growing out of control and can’t keep up anymore. Sound familiar?

Here are five clear signs your business is growing too fast and you need to act—now.

Read More

Read More...

Two Roles You Can Never Leave as an Owner

“I fired all of them,” said the Canada-based condominium developer I was helping to optimize his business. “Wow,” I said. “What happened?”

The developer continued. “You said you wouldn’t work through a bunch of layers, and so I fired all my vice presidents. And you know what I found out? They were keeping things from me. If I hadn’t done that, my business would have been out of working capital within six months. Now you just have to help me navigate out of this.”

I told him in a nice but direct way, “I blame you… not them. It was your job to know for yourself what was and wasn’t happening at your company, and we’re going to fix that starting with getting you to a much better designed Box Org Chart.”

And we went on to do just that.

Unfortunately, this is a story I’ve heard all too many times over nearly 20 years of 1-to-1 consulting with contracting clients. The owner would delegate responsibility for their financial position to someone only to discover all kinds of impropriety once that person went on vacation, departed — or the bank or creditors started calling!

The Financial Manager role is one of two roles you can never give up. The other is Marketing Manager.

Read More

Read More...

How to Get Your Life Back and Have the Business You Want

“I just wish my Dad was around more,” said my daughter Pam to her 7th grade teacher. When my wife, Natalie, heard this during a parent conference she said, “My husband is the only dad in the back of the room doing things like videoing her shows and recitals.”

But when Natalie told me what Pam had said, I thought to myself, “Ouch.” The reason is, I had thought by being at every dance recital with my big camcorder was enough. My daughter saw through me though. The problem was I was there in body, but my mind was on work, specifically my family’s plumbing, heating, cooling and now electrical contracting business. The video camera caught what was going on, but if you’d have asked me the details after the show, I couldn’t have told you. I was too busy thinking about the disgruntled customer I had just come from and that I needed to call back or go see after the show was over.

Vacations? Forget it. My wife and I would go someplace nice and my cell phone would ring again and again. It was not relaxing. And then there was the big backlog of work that would take me a week to get through once we got back.

One day, the stuff hit the fan. The chaos I was accepting day after day was hurting me and everyone around me. I had to get my life back. I needed to put systems and processes into place at my company that would allow my staff to handle more on their own (the way I would do it). Also, I wanted to be able to delegate responsibilities to others in a way where stuff actually gets done and doesn’t boomerang and land back on my plate.

So I went home and made my wife, Natalie, a promise. I said, “For the next two years, I will be around even less than I am now and you deserve to know why…”

Read More

Read More...

I Don’t Like Millennials… I Love Them and So Should You

Tommy, one of the techs at my contracting company, poked his head into my office after his last call of the day. It was after 7 p.m., which is about two hours later than he would have liked to finish. He said, “That last job took forever. These kids today have no work ethic and ask a million questions. I wish they would just put their head down and do the work.”

I smiled a little and replied, “You know, Tommy, when you first started all the experienced Techs that worked here said the same thing about you.” “Haha, very funny,” was his reply. I went on to tell him that if he thought the Technicians he worked with needed additional training to let me know. But otherwise, try to have a little patience. After all, to get as good as he was took years of practice.

Tommy and I had this conversation in the 1990s, but if you replaced the word “kids” with “millennials” or “gen x” it would be just as relevant today.

The truth is that the bad rap younger generations get is based on a myth, which if not overcome will harm your business because you’ll be missing out on some of the best employees you may ever have.

Read More

Read More...

Does Everyone Get to Stay Your Customer?… NO!

“I’m sorry, Mr. Jones… I think, given the circumstances, another company could serve you better,” I said calmly, even though I was actually pretty ticked off at the way he had spoken to my best CSR, my Dispatcher and my most experienced Tech. I invited him again to go hire (and likely abuse) my competition.

Why not just take his money? Because Mr. Jones was not my customer. He was among the five percent of customers who were causing 90 percent of our problems and we were on a mission to move them out. And he was destroying our company’s culture and I wasn’t going to let that happen.

After all, I had always told my staff, “You’re my #1 customer and I know that how I treat you is how I hope you’ll treat our customers. So, know that my family is committing to treating you with the respect you deserve.”

Well, if I meant it… and I did… there comes a time I had to fire a customer to prove that I’d be willing to put my money where my mouth was and stick up for the team.

Here are four customer behaviors and one situation you shouldn’t tolerate and how you can handle them.

Read More

Read More...

Employee Feedback Done Right

I call them “staffing surprises” and they’re rarely pleasant surprises. You know what I’m talking about. I call it the, “5 o’clock knock.”

Sometimes, it’s where an employee shows up at your doorstep, usually during your busiest time, and asks for more money or special exceptions for them on company policies. And sometimes, it’s actually to dish the dirt about other employees by sharing the whispering that’s going on at the water cooler, the breakroom or parking lot (or more likely these days over text or social media).

This is usually about who is upset about what, how, or who. None of it is good for your business and frankly, it’s not good for your employees, either.

The good news is there are steps you can take to avoid being blindsided by employee dissatisfaction. To keep staff engaged and ultimately from leaving our company, I learned late (unfortunately late) in the game to make the time to walk around and ask them proactively at least once a week the following three questions…

Read More

Read More...

Fleet Management Done Right

Would you drive your personal vehicle 100,000 miles and never do an oil change? Ignore the flashing red engine light on your dashboard hoping it will go away? Continue to drive it after you dropped the front wheel into a deep pothole at 70 mph?

Of course not!

You would take steps to maintain and fix the vehicle as soon as possible. That’s because you are the manager of your personal fleet of one, two, three (or more) vehicles and you know waiting will only end up costing you more in the end.

When it comes to the fleet for your contracting business, however, the consequences of not being proactive has yet another layer of risk and a huge financial impact. That’s because each one of your trucks is a rolling cash register and every time one of your trucks goes out of service, your ability to generate revenue for your business goes with it. To avoid this, you need someone acting as the Fleet Manager. Someone has to have the job to make sure those trucks not only stay on the road but also are utilized properly by the Technicians who are operating them.

Read More

Read More...

Checking In vs Snooping

In a bunch of management articles and blogs I’ve read in the last few years, there is more and more discussion about the ever-growing amount of time being wasted in the office (remember when all your office staff worked in the office?). It still happens with personnel there, at home, and also with staff in the field.

The issue I’ve had from the beginning of my first becoming a manager, then an owner, and now an industry-consultant is to find what is the right balance between checking in on staff and what amounts to spying on employees.

I will confess that while at work I’m all about work, and that is pretty much what I expected from my employees, and that’s what I teach my clients to expect from their employees. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a need for time to… just hang out, chat, and share a laugh. Remember, we come to work as much to socialize as well as just to collect a check.

To my mind, that time of coming together whether in the break room for office staff or at the local 7-Eleven ™ or Circle K™ is vital to team building. It’s worse when people are “stealing” productive time to do solo-time wasting activities.

Yes, COVID has changed things for now, but in the long run, I believe more people will be working safely in an office again or at least some hybrid of home and office. Productivity studies and issues of disconnection from the company are still pointing to the need for face-to-face time and not just FaceTime or Zoom Meetings.

A friend of mine who worked his whole life in big corporate America told me that there was an art to always looking busy whether it was pouring over stacks of reports in the old days when stuff got printed that then turned into staring at the computer when the stuff moved to digital. Productivity didn’t change much… People just found new ways to look busy.

Read More

Read More...

Owner Procrastination Implementing is the Biggest Problem

In my seminars, workshops and webinars, I often ask the audience the following question, “Why do people resist change?”

I get a lot of good answers like:

1) They fear the unknown

2) They are uncertain about what the outcome will be

3) They worry things might actually get worse

4) They admit they want to protect the status quo

But I’ve learned along the way, both in my own business and now as a consultant to so many other businesses for so long, that the number 1 reason people resist changes is… Fear of Failure!

I didn’t understand this phenomenon when I was young so I was baffled as to why my team would resist the change I was proposing when it was clearly getting rid of something they said they hated with something they agreed could possibly be better.

Read More

Read More...

Get the 7 Power Contractor Book

bookongrey

Learn how to run your business with less stress and more success with the 7-Power Contractor

Connect with Al

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our cookie policy: privacy policy