Discussing Business Strategies
This podcast is all about helping home service contractors get better at advertising and marketing and grow more efficient and more profitable businesses. It’s for plumbers, roofers, HVAC techs, electricians, solar contractors, remodelers, water filtration companies, and more.
In most episodes, we’ll be covering marketing and advertising, but we’ll also discuss sales, operations, accounting, automation, hiring better, and more. You’re welcome to suggest the topic on our website at battleplan-marketing.com/podcast.
We’ll also be interviewing home service companies, business owners, industry-related vendors, and others who can provide valuable insights into running more efficient and effective businesses.
Our own marketing company manages the marketing for just a small group of clients each year. So we’re offering this podcast and our blog free marketing guides. And our upcoming training center as ways to help more companies than we ever could just one-on-one.
I’m sure I won’t be the best podcast host you ever heard but hang in there with me. I promise to do my best to deliver real value for every episode that you can act on and make it worth your time and attention.
Why contractors? Because you’re one of America’s last skilled industries that haven’t been taken over completely by giant corporations. Because you build our homes, offices, and stores, and help keep them safe and operating at their best.
Our skilled trades and other small businesses are the backbones of America. I thank you all for your service.
Alright, I’m not really into small talk so let’s dive right in and see where we can find some golden nuggets.
I absolutely love those business turnarounds and investing TV shows like Shark Tank, The Profit Bar Rescue, Restaurant Impossible, and others like that. I can’t get enough of them. You could say I’m addicted.
And if you watch enough of those business turnarounds and investing shows, you’ll soon discover that businesses and their owners share four very common issues that block their success and growth.
Number one, most business owners don’t know their numbers, which is criminal.
Number two, the business owner’s ego is almost always hurting their business.
Number three, there is no business or it struggles a lot if the owner isn’t there to work.
And number four, there is no why, no mission, no company culture besides to make money or “be the best.” Those are not WHY’s.
A painful by-product of these four common issues is that most contractors are working their tails off 60 to 80 hours a week or more. Doing everything, and going everywhere.
Most guys don’t own a company, they own a really hard job with absolutely terrible working hours. As a result of that, many have struggling relationships with their spouses and families, their friends, their employees… with everybody. It’s a very serious problem. And I take it seriously.
Overworking your ass off and dying of a heart attack at 40, 50, or 60 years old is not the American dream. So now in my old age, I’m here to do my little part to try and help save a few of you from that madness and torture.
We’ll be tackling each of these four issues together, and then on marketing, measuring, optimizing, and scaling your company.
I’ll be taking my own company through the same processes right along with you. The good news is when you fix these four issues, then you’ll have created a sustainable and scalable business that runs without you having to be there.
You’ll be able to take vacations without your company falling apart, or you dreading the workload when you get back.
You’ll have a business you can sell. And more importantly, that others will want to buy. You’ll have a business you can pass on to the next generation if you want.
So let’s take a look at why so many businesses struggle and fail and how to correct that for your company.
Most businesses get started because the person, the owner, is really skilled at something and wants to open their own business.
“I want to be my own boss” is the common mantra. But then they quickly find out that running a business requires several other skill sets that are very different and diverse from their principal trade. There are sales, marketing, customer service, operations, dispatching inventory management, insurance benefits, accounting taxes, warranty, repairs, truck, and building maintenance, and more. I’m exhausted just naming all of those.
Of course, very few of us are superhuman and can do all of that ourselves, nor should we be doing it all. But if we want a thriving business that produces the greatest return with the least effort, then how we deal with those needed skillsets will determine the fate of our business.
The founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, said, “Being a business owner is like jumping off a cliff and building an airplane on the way down. We never have all the parts needed in the beginning.”
It’s a process and that’s okay. So let’s take a look at how the pros do it and reverse-engineer it in order to help us build better businesses.
Ken Goodrich, the owner, and president of Goettl Air Conditioning says, “A business is an organization of systems that delivers customer satisfaction and more transactions.”
People, process, and the product is what Marcus Lemonis the CEO of Camping World and the star of the TV show “The Prophet” says that he’s looking for when investing in a company.
How do you think it is that national brands and franchises can produce the same quality service or product when they have hundreds or thousands of locations? Is the owner working in all of those places? No, of course not.
They do it with standard operating procedures. SOP’s, systems, training, and people. They train people to do the job properly and then they trust them to do the job without micro-managing every moment.
If you go to a Four Seasons hotel, why do all the employees go above and beyond the call of duty to provide you with a great experience? You would almost think each employee you met there was the owner of the business due to the care and attention they put into doing their jobs and taking care of the customer.
The reason is that the company created a mission to only offer truly exceptional experiences and be the world’s premier luxury hospitality company.
They invested the time and energy needed to properly train their employees and share their mission with them, their WHY. Is the owner at every hotel location? No. Is the manager doing every single job in the hotel? No. They have standardized processes for everything and a training manual that details every single thing to be done.
They also have a “why” that’s ingrained into every employee. And only those employees that come to believe in share and deliver their core values are the ones who get to continue to work there.
Employees are also encouraged to suggest improvements to their procedures and will get rewarded if those suggestions improve the customer experience or system efficiencies and they get adopted.
On the lower end of the quality spectrum. If you go to a McDonald’s or any fast food restaurant, you’ll get pretty much the same food and service, no matter where you are in the country or even the world, though, the menu might be different in some countries. They have processes and systems for each task.
The restaurant layouts are even designed to deliver those consistent processes. Why are they able to hire and train people to manage these restaurants? Because again, they have systems for everything. They train employees and managers to follow the systems and deliver a consistent experience.
A lot of you men and women are military veterans. I myself am a veteran of the US Coast Guard. In the service, the same thing applies, sort of. There’s a standardized process for everything you do. There is a major difference in the military however, you’re definitely not encouraged to suggest improvements to their processes. LOL. It’s a little bit different kind of an organization.
Now let’s look at the typical small business or home services company. The owner often does or micromanages everything. They can’t do it all themselves, but they sure will try, often to the point of exhaustion. The owner often complains that they “can’t find good people to work there.” There are usually no standardized procedures.
If an employee does or has suggestions on how to improve a task, the owner will often say, “just do it my way.” Very often business owners are dictators. They don’t trust their employees. Employees are not valued. Owners don’t ask for or respect their employees’ opinions on how to improve things. Quality control is usually lacking.
There’s also no why, no mission, and no company culture other than increasing sales and completing the jobs needed to be done. What’s the result? Employees are unhappy or even scared of losing their jobs. They’re stressed and unproductive. There’s usually high employee turnover and customer experience varies from one job to the next, which produces some unhappy customers.
Referrals from customers are low, or the referral leads are not of very high quality because they know who you are, but they don’t trust you completely. Advertising and operating costs are usually high, or non-existent because the owner doesn’t know marketing.
The business owner is usually stressed and burned-out and yet he or she still resists change, even though they’re struggling.
The first step to curing all of this is realizing and admitting that you need help and that it takes a team to run a great business.
There’s a great book that speaks wonderfully on this subject. And it’s one of my all-time favorite business books. It’s entitled the E-Myth revisited by Michael E Gerber (link below). Go buy yourself a copy. It’ll be one of the best things you ever did for your business.
So how do we cure this disease of the business owner’s ego and over-managing? And remember, this disease is directly responsible for many owners working 60 to 80 hour plus weeks, being stressed and burned out, constantly seeking new employees to replace the lost ones, and dealing with unsatisfied customers.
It’s the reason they can’t take a vacation without their business suffering. It’s the reason why their wife might want to hit you over the head with a frying pan.
Remember the traits Marcus Lemonis looks for in a business; people, process, and product.
And the words of the LinkedIn founder, “Being a business owner is like jumping off a cliff and building an airplane on the way down.”
So it’s very normal to be in this position as a business owner, you haven’t failed, you haven’t done anything wrong. You jumped off the cliff and now you just need to start collecting the parts needed to build your airplane so you don’t crash.
Step number one is to figure out what you want your company culture to be.
And that’s always going to be about people other than you.
What’s your mission?
What’s your unique selling proposition (USP)?
What makes your company different from every other company and your niche?
Why should prospects choose your company?
What’s your why? Go and look on YouTube for a Ted Talk video from Simon Sinek.
Of going get his book entitled, “Start with your why: How great leaders inspire action,” and dive deeper. Briefly, he states that every company knows what they sell. Some know how they make what they sell, but very few know why they make and sell what they sell. So what’s your why?
For example, our why is to strengthen the backbone of America’s home service companies by helping them stop wasting tons of money on bad advertising and marketing, and instead focus on their business and personal goals to develop the strategies and tactics needed to achieve these goals. We don’t sell marketing services to companies without first taking them through that journey.
It sounds simple, right? Well, no, not really. It’s a lot simpler just to sell a company some advertising, websites, or SEO. It takes a lot more work from us and our clients to take them through the proper process of creating a goal-oriented Battle Plan that measures and tracks successes and failures.
If you don’t have a why that you earnestly believe in, then your employees won’t buy into it either. And you’ll still be stuck in the mud.
Your why can’t be about you, or money, or sales. It will always be about others.
There’s a great quote by Zig Ziglar, who’s one of the world’s most popular motivational speakers. And he says. “You can have everything you want in life. If you help enough people get what they want.”
So who are you serving?
Get those books I’ve mentioned, devour them, find out who you want to serve, and create your why.
Now let’s take a look at happy customers and your processes.
Happy customers, of course, are a necessity for the long-term survival of any business.
And to have happy customers, you must have happy employees.
You can’t get consistently great customer service from unhappy, stressed, or disorganized employees. If you’re one of those who micromanage because you think your employees will never do the job as well as you can, then you’re probably right. They will never care as much as you because they’re not owners of the business.
So either make them owners or accept their output. Help them produce the best output possible with great training and by encouraging them to suggest ways to improve their processes, their job functions, reward them for improving efficiencies and cutting costs, or creating a better customer experience.
If they truly believe in your why, or if they are your why, then they’ll be thrilled to help and contribute.
So today, take one repeatable job function that someone else in your company does, or that you wish someone else did to take the burden off of you, but that you always seem to poke your nose into to see if it’s done “the way you wanted.” Write out what you want the end result to be and why. Now draft out the process that you usually take to achieve that end result.
Next, either go to the person who does that or the person that you would like to do that and inform them that this is the end result we need to achieve. And this is the process we currently take to get there. Let them know that you value them and that you’d like them to take on this responsibility.
They can use your process to get there, but they’re also very much invited to improve upon it and any way to achieve that same end result or an even better end result. If they can improve upon the efficiency costs or customer experience, then there’ll be a reward in it for them. Remember people, processes, and products help them succeed, and your company will benefit as a direct result.
Here’s another quote I love from Gary Vaynerchuk, also known as Gary Vee was the CEO of several hundred million dollar marketing agencies and several other companies as well, “Your employees don’t work for you, you work for them.”
I would add that your employees work for themselves and their families first, your customers second, and you’re last. And if you think it’s any different than that, you’ll have high turnover and problems forever.
Let employees and managers create your standard operating procedures and reward them for improvements and quality.
Then have them write down that new standard operating procedure for the task.
Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple computers once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
Great leaders generate enthusiasm and help develop and coach people, while bosses drive them, depend on authority, and inspire fear.
Great leaders give credit while bosses take credit.
Great leaders, help employees fix problems while bosses blame others for breakdowns.
Great leaders say “we” while bosses say “I.”
So help your employees get the skills and training they need to do their jobs the best as possible and provide them the opportunities to improve the functions of their job.
Give them the opportunities to learn new skills and advance. Ask them what their dreams and goals are. What’s their why? And how can you help them get there?
Do you already have some great long-term employees that your business couldn’t survive without? Think about making them part owners of the business, or give them a percentage of the year-end profits.
Once you have success in delegating and developing that first standardized process then start looking at each and every process in your company, from answering a phone call to booking and dispatching to service texts, arriving at the customer’s home or business, etc.
Encourage, help, and reward your employees to start writing your company’s training manual for every function in the business.
They will appreciate the value and trust you place in them and their skills and ideas. And you’ll wind up with a standardized set of systems that deliver customer satisfaction, more transactions, and a business that can run itself.
So the message for this episode is that your company’s success and wellbeing are completely dependent upon why you do what you do. And then developing your people and processes and knowing your numbers, which we’ll touch on in upcoming episodes.
I hope you found some value in those messages. I appreciate your spending your time and attention with us. Good luck out there and create a great day.
BOOK: The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
Do you own a job or a business? This book reveals why most business owners created a hard job for themselves instead of owning a business and what to do about it.
This book show how to take a self-employed business that’s more like a job with you working tons of hours and turn it into a franchise model with systems and processes that creates a scalable business.
BOOK: Start with Why by Simon Sinek
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it” is the principle message in this book.
If you’re looking to inspire your employees and customers and build a company that stands out from the rest, then starting with your Why is a critical ingredient.
Starting with Why commands trust, loyalty, and promotes long-term success.