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Finally, All the Great Techs You Ever Wanted

It was 2 a.m. and I was standing in my office at our family’s plumbing, heating, cooling and now electrical business on Long Island talking to my brother, Richie. In a company of more than 25 Techs, we—the owners—were the ones still there, working late into the night—I mean morning—to fix some issues other people had created.

Richie said, “That guy was the best Tech at their shop? Really? He’s barely mediocre compared to our guys. And can you believe how much money we had to overpay him to come work here?”

To which I replied, in an exhausted and aggravated tone, “I’m sick of it. I’m sick of Techs telling us how great they are in interviews when we hire them or taking the word of others about how great this Tech is.”

It was very frustrating and it went on for years! The good news is we were eventually able to solve it and I’m about to tell you how you can, too.

To fix this problem once and for all you’ll need to learn and implement the five main components of Staffing Power:

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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…

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New Practices for Covid-19

There’s an ancient proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.”

I know many of you have taken steps to put additional systems and processes in place to keep customers and employees safe in the midst of this pandemic. Kudos to you.

Haven’t done much of anything or still scrambling?

What you need to know is it is not too late! The need for additional systems and processes around this virus (or heaven forbid, future virus pandemics) is not going away anytime soon. It’s going to be some time before everyone is vaccinated and even then, there will be some people that may not be able to receive those vaccinations—and those people will need your services, too.

Here are some helpful protocols you could put into place fairly quickly to make customers and staff alike safer.

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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.

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The Goal Writing is on the Wall

By the time you read this, most people’s New Year’s resolutions (aka goals) will be a distant memory and they’ll be back to doing the same things they said they were or weren’t going to do (lose weight, make more money, work fewer hours). Maybe you even have a few. Here’s the thing: Setting goals is easy. It’s the follow through on the plan of action that will create the change you want that’s the tough part. A famous author once said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

That said, there’s a process for energizing goals properly, and the first step is to put the goal (or goals) in writing. This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at how much push back I’ve gotten on this one over the years. The reason is because if you never put the goal in writing, you don’t have to be wrong or miss. You can always be perfect in your mind because there’s nothing tangible to remind you of what you said you wanted. You don’t have to confront failure or any of the other negative messages in your head that say you didn’t deserve it anyway.

Here’s the thing: A goal is just a destination. The plan you create to get to your goal is your map or GPS. That’s it. You will inevitably learn new things along the way, and that may cause you to adjust the goal or the plan to get it. Even if you fall short, you’ll almost certainly be better off than if you hadn’t tried. As I told one client who was stressing over this, there’s no “goal police.” The sole purpose of a goal is to give you something tangible to shoot for.

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Does the 12-Hour Workday Work?

The idea of moving the normal 8 hours a day to 10 hours or even 12 hours a day has been around a long time. And the idea of a longer workday comes and goes with the business cycle and, many times, where we are in the economic cycle and unemployment rate.

In the contracting business, we’re typically all expected to work more than the traditional 40 hours a week and, therefore, more than an 8-hour day.

The nature of most of our businesses that are deemed essential is that we’re necessary and time-critical.

Drains overflowing, water cascading from your second floor bathroom into your dining room, no heat on a zero-degree day with howling winds in winter, or no cooling on a 90-plus-degree day in summer… all are time sensitive for sure. It is going to test you and your staff needing to put in a very long day and, many times, day after day too.

Working hard is one thing, but there is a point of diminishing returns.

Here are just 5 signs to tell you when you’re getting to the downside…

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Making All the Pieces Fit

Commitment to getting better is great, but soliciting advice from too many different consultants or sources of information hurts more than it helps.

Here’s the analogy I like to use to explain this:

Would you build your dream car with a Ford chassis, a Toyota engine, seats and interior by Volkswagen? No!

The car would probably blow itself apart or be some kind of a death trap. It makes no sense.

But, for some reason, too many owners seem to think it’s okay to take consulting advice for their business from articles online, business books they’ve read, and/or multiple consultants.

This works on the idea that all the pieces will somehow fit, but the reality is that’s not likely going to be the case.

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Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth

What happens when your company has too many leaders all going in too many different directions?

Chaos!

Yes, like the old adage says, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”

To expand on this, in a kitchen, there can only be one head chef. They run things and the others on the team help produce the outcome desired. You can’t expect good results if everyone is free to jump into the process.

Pardon the pun: That would be a recipe for disaster.

Here’s how and why this dynamic of “Too Many Chefs” reveals itself to me as I go about my work as a consultant at a new company…

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Buying Your Way to Growth

When I talk to contractors, many ask the same question, and that is, “How do I grow my company the right way?”

To me, there are only two answers:

1) Master Organic Marketing

2) Master Acquisition

Mastering Organic Marketing means you are so good at the right messaging delivered using the right marketing vehicles that you create more demand for the work you can do in a given day which means you need to grow your team to support this ability.

Great Organic Marketers have figured out on their own or with good marketing outsources how to make their phone ring “off the hook” which has allowed the owner to hang up their tool belt and begin to focus on what it takes to run a successful business.

Mastering Acquisition means you’ve learned how to buy someone else’s company and acquire their customers and good will and sometimes their assets like trucks and inventory or even their building.

Great Acquisition Players know that Acquisition can and often does happen in many ways and in many forms.

My focus here is on Acquisition as the best way to… Buying Your Way to Growth.

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Gratitude: Your Most Powerful Tool

At my company, we used to show people our gratitude by keeping them employed. You know, giving them a paycheck. Heck, what else were we expected to do… am I right?

The answer of course was, no… I was dead wrong!

There are plenty of surveys that ask employees to rank what’s most important to them when it comes to their job. And if you’re like I was, you might say it’s all about the money. But, time and again, the surveys show that employees don’t value their paycheck as number or 1 or even in the top 5.

Always in the top 5 is being appreciated by those who they work with and to whom they report.

My belief is people don’t go to work for a paycheck. They go to work so the paychecks doesn’t stop. And although they can’t spend “appreciation” at the grocery store, there’s a lot more at play with your team than just getting paid.

I came to learn that employees want and crave appreciation and gratitude for what they do. Good to know. The bad news is, it wasn’t something I was comfortable with doing and neither were my brothers, who were my partners, along with my dad.

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