Archives for March 2019

Dave Ramsey’s Entreleadership: Busting the Myths of Leadership

By Dave Ramsey

The great statesman Benjamin Franklin once said, “When you are finished changing, you’re finished.” And even though it’s been 200-plus years since he uttered those famous words, they still hold true — especially in today’s business world.

Long standing ideas about how to lead a team are no longer viable. Workers won’t stick around for a bad boss these days, no matter how much they’re paid. They want to be motivated and inspired. So, how can you ensure that you’re functioning as an awesome leader? Start by avoiding these common, but mistaken, leadership beliefs.

The Myth: They’re inspired by their paycheck. As the owner of your company, you have the power to change lives. After all, you’re the person signing the paychecks. Everyone should be happy, and even grateful, to do their jobs with no questions asked.

The Truth: Great leaders know that power comes from persuasion, not position. Simply offering a paycheck, or intimidating workers by holding their jobs over their heads will not make them more productive or creative. Leaders who take the time to communicate, support and encourage earn loyalty and respect from their teams.

The Myth: No news is good news. Your team doesn’t need to know when something bad happens. If sales are down, they’re going to become scared and maybe even leave. As a matter of fact, they can’t be trusted with any sensitive news — good or bad.

The Truth: Winning organizations have a culture of communication. Your team wants to know what’s happening and why. Sure, there’s some information you can’t share. But when you have the right team members on board, you can trust them with almost anything. Make a habit of over-communicating. Your team will respect you for it even more.

The Myth: You can’t find good workers anymore. Today’s generation doesn’t listen. They lack initiative, and they never show up on time. They want the world handed to them.

The Truth: You’re probably not good at finding and recognizing talented, responsible workers. Think there are no young people who are willing to do an awesome job? Look at Chick-fil-A. The company has thousands of them. Part of being a good leader is knowing how to hire. You have to be willing to wait for the perfect person — one who shares your values and work ethic. At Dave Ramsey’s company, team members are interviewed four to six times, and the process can take three or four months.

Becoming a great leader is not easy. It’s a skill that needs to be developed, and it’s one that takes time, patience and a willingness to learn and improve one’s self. But if you’re willing to put in the hard work, you’ll find yourself with a team full of talented, passionate people — a team willing and able to slay dragons right alongside you, and do whatever it takes to win.

It’s definitely worth the wait!

Is Your Company Customer Friendly?

by Tom Grandy

Over the past 29+ years of working within the trades industry I have noticed some profound changes within individual companies in an effort to become more “customer friendly”. As the new year moves forward I would like to highlight a few things that different companies are doing in order to become more customer friendly.

You will notice one item that is glaringly absent from the list. I have not listed the need, or desire, for top quality work. The reason is simple. Today’s customer expects top quality work all the time. That no longer impresses the customer. From the customers perspective – quality work is a given.

So let’s look at a few things customers really like about the companies they work with:

• Relationship with the Person that Answers the Phone
First impressions are lasting impressions. When it comes to Five Star Hotels the position at the registration desk is NOT an entry level job. In some cases the position must be earned over a period of years. That is how important the first impression is. Customers within the trades industry desire a long term relationship with the person that answers the phone. That means placing individuals in that position that are friendly, knowledgeable, and truly care about the customers they serve. This is why smaller companies often have a member of the owner’s family in that position. They know there will be very little turnover therefore allowing relationships to be built. Having software that calls up the complete customer history, including notes about the last call, can be invaluable. How would you feel if you called your local trades company and the first words out of the Customer Service Reps mouth were “Hello Mrs. Smith, how is Johnny doing in his first year of college?” After a brief but friendly conversation the CSR then says “I noticed Bill was at your home a couple months ago when he worked on your XYZ. Is that still working ok, and if so, how can I help you today.” That is being customer friendly.

• Being Contacted When the Technician is on the Way
It’s a busy world out there and plans change. Sometimes the customer was supposed to be home but an emergency occurred that forced them to leave the house, unexpectedly. The technicians day changes as well. The service call was scheduled between 10:00 and 11:00 AM but the calls earlier in the day took longer than expected. Customer friendly companies tell the customer they will be called (or texted, or emailed – customers preference) when the technician is on the way. That call allows schedules to change if something comes up and also allows Mr. or Mrs. Jones time to drive home if they are out doing an errand. Customers seem to really like that kind of communication.

• Security
Security is a huge issue in today’s world. Customer-friendly companies have technicians arrive at the home with pictured name tags, easily seem, and with a calling card in hand. Many companies also text or email the name of the technician, and a photo as well, before the technician arrives so the customer knows who will be coming. All this makes the customer feel more secure.

• Respect the Customers Property
Respecting a customer’s property should be a given but in today’s world it’s not. The truck should be parked on the street so the homeowner can get out of the driveway if needed. If you need to park in the driveway confirm that it’s ok with the customer, don’t assume. Don’t walk on the grass and always put on booties before entering the customer’s home. If the customer says you don’t need to do that it instantly becomes a moment to create a customer cheerleader. Tell the customer “Mrs. Jones, it’s company policy. We don’t want to risk bringing dirt into your home!” Also, don’t smoke. If you do, the odor follows the technician right on into the home. Use clean, yes clean, drop cloths as well. Again, it’s all about respecting the customer’s property.

• Customer Friendly Hours 
Today, most husbands and wives work outside of the home. However, that doesn’t mean the customer doesn’t want to be there when the work is done. That calls for change on the company’s part. Many companies now have staggered hours allowing calls to be made into the evening without paying overtime. Many companies work on Saturday, and some even on Sunday as well. This is a teaching moment! It’s about what the customer wants……not what’s convenient for you.

• Ability to Schedule a Service Call Online
What do Generation X, Y, and Millennials all have in common? Nearly all communication takes place on an electronic device. Progressive, customer friendly, organizations are now providing the customer the option of scheduling their own service calls right online. Few baby boomers will do that but the younger the customer, the more likely it is to happen. One principle of life doesn’t change. Older people will get older and there will be a mass of young people right behind them. Again, it’s not about your convenience, it’s about meeting current and future customer needs.

• Easily Understood Billing 
I can’t tell you how many contractors I have talked to in the past that were still on time and material. As we discussed billing, it wasn’t unusual for a contractor to tell me how much they charge per hour. In addition to their hourly rate they charged a show up fee, disposal fee, gas surcharge, etc. My reply is always the same. That is like handing the customer a gun with six bullets and asking them which one they want to shoot me with! That is too much information and is confusing to the customer. Sure, all those costs are real but roll all the costs into one simple hourly rate that covers it. Too much information invites unwanted questions. Go to flat rate pricing so the customer knows the cost up front and explain that payment for service is required before they leave the home. Make it simple and easy to understand.

• Clean Up the Area When Work is Completed
I saved this one for last for a reason. This is one thing, from the customer’s perspective, has NOT changed over the years. Most customers, especially women, see a direct correlation between how well the technician cleaned up and the quality of the work that was performed. Is that right or fair? No, but it really doesn’t matter because from the customers’ perspective it’s true. Customer oriented companies recognize that fact and require all service technicians to take a small vacuum into the home to clean up the work area before they leave. Yes, it will take an extra 5-10 minutes per call. Simply add the time, and therefore the dollars, to your flat rate pricing guide and the cost is not only covered but you will then have a happy customer that is likely to mention how well the technician cleaned up to her friends and neighbors.

Repeat customers that recommend your company to others are the foundation stone for profitable growth. Creating programs that are centered on the customer’s wants and needs will become more and more important as time goes on.

Here’s a parting thought. Think about creating a “customer” board of directors. Meet quarterly and ask for suggestions on how your company can become more customer oriented. It might change the way you do business and will increase your bottom line profitability!

Eating Cottage Cheese Will Not Help You Lose Weight

by Tom Grandy

Eating cottage cheese will obviously not help you lose weight.  Why?  Well look around, only fat people seem to eat it!  Now, is that totally true?  Of course not; there are a lot of people who love cottage cheese, I just don’t happen to be one of them.

So what does eating cottage cheese have to do with running a profitable business?  Before I answer that let me share one more real-life example and you just might figure it out.  One of my responsibilities at Grandy & Associates is to line up speakers/content for our Profit University Audio Series that features a different business topic by a different national speaker each month.  Sometimes I scan websites of potential speakers to see if they have material that might be suitable for the series.  Like most reading this article, I had heard of Zig Zigler my whole life.  He died in 2012 but was one of the best known motivational speakers in the country and perhaps the world.

Upon reviewing his website, as you might have expected, there is a long list of presentation titles.  It wasn’t long before one of the titles caught my attention.  The title was Biscuits Fleas and Pump Handles.  I’m thinking to myself, “What in the world do those things have in common?”  After a few clicks on the keyboard I had viewed the summary and purchased the CD.  The presentation was outstanding, but guess what?  The content was on goal setting.  After receiving permission from the Zigler organization to use the material it became this month’s presentation for the Profit University Audio Series.

What do cottage cheese and biscuits, fleas and pump handles have in common?  You guessed it; they all got your attention.  In the case of Zig Zigler’s presentation I heard an outstanding presentation that provided some really valuable tips on how to set and achieve goals.  If I had reviewed the topic list on Zig’s website and come across a presentation entitled “Six Ways to Set and Achieve Goals” I seriously doubt I would have explored the content and it would surely not be this month’s featured presentation.  The above title was not unique.  There are a limitless number of presentations on goal setting but Zig’s title caught my attention.

The point is:  What do you promote about your company?  Before a potential customer becomes a real customer you have to initiate a contact and/or have a conversation.  What are you saying about your company that makes it unique from all the rest?  What catches your potential customers attention enough for them to contact you?  Do the following phrases sound familiar?

  • 73 years of combined experience
  • Great customer service
  • Family owned and operated
  • We carry XYZ equipment
  • Lowest price in town (if you want to go out of business quick, use this one)

With very little effort most reading this article could add another dozen topics to the list.  Why?  Because a huge number of trades companies use them. There were no fleas or pump handles to get your attention, right?

What is “really” going to get your potential new customers attention?  Below are a few thoughts to ponder on:

Our most efficient XYZ system can be yours for only $XXX/month (Remember what made Sears famous years ago?  You could buy nearly anything for $25/month)

  • We know the history of your equipment (Promote how you record every call, what repairs were done, and which technician worked on the system)
  • No extra charge for after hours or weekend calls (With proper personnel scheduling, and accurate pricing that absorbs the after-hours cost, this can be a reality)
  • Relationships are important!  (Promote your efforts to send the same technician to the same location as often as possible)
  • You will KNOW when the technician is on the way (Put systems in place that allow the service customer to be notified by email, text, or phone call when the technician is within 15 minutes of arrival)

Get the point?  Promote things that show your company is unique!  Think about what makes your company different…from the customer’s standpoint?  You can’t catch a fish without bait and you can’t create a new customer until you get their attention.   Unless you can capture the potential customer’s attention with some kind of unique offering you will never even have the opportunity to add them to your customer base. If you want to increase your customer base–it’s time to think outside of the box!

Recruitment

By Nancy O’Hare Zika

Recruitment … it is at the forefront of every person’s mind in the PHCE industry, and for very good reason.  This is a real problem!  We are currently looking at a 340,000 position shortage of tradespeople in the US, and with 60% of the current workforce retiring in the next ten years, that number could very well rise to 1.1 million.  So, as business owners, what do we do? Honestly, you have two viable options: grow your own or hire existing technicians from the competition.  To be successful at either one requires you to be the employer of choice in your area.  Seems simple… right??   There are a number of ways to become the “Employer of Choice” in your area.  It starts with making it known to the outside world why they should come and work for you.  For someone on the outside looking in, the culture of your company is virtually invisible.  When you’re working within (or “inside”) your own business, it seems like everyone should know what a great company you have… But they don’t.   Recognize this and figure out a way to make it known!  The best way is through effective marketing.  Believe it or not, there is actually a way to “market” your company that will both increase your customer base and also have potential technicians flocking to your door.

You need to tell your story. By doing so, you will make an emotional connection with the potential technicians of your area.  This needs to be done honestly and openly.  As much as we think we are in the plumbing business, or the heating business…we are really in the PEOPLE business.  Be sure you understand the difference.

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to travel around the country visiting PHCE companies, and there is definitely one sentiment that I routinely hear from company owners and management…”We have too much competition in the area.. there are just not enough technicians!”  But… perhaps it’s all about perspective.   You have 15 companies in your service area?? Well, I view that as 15 companies that are currently employing your future technicians.

A quick story:  In 1935 a US shoe company was looking to expand its business overseas.  They sent two of their top sales guys to different areas within this new region.  The owner of the shoe company told both of the salesmen to send word back once they were settled in the new uncharted territory as to how many pairs of shoes they needed shipped over.  A week went by and finally word came from Salesman #1.  He wrote: Disappointing news.  Do not send any.  No one wears shoes here!  The ownership was discouraged and decided they should contact Salesman #2 to tell him to pack up and head home, but before they could get in touch, they received the following message from him:  GREAT NEWS!  Send me as many as possible!  NO ONE WEARS SHOES HERE!

It’s all about perspective.  Be sure that you are effectively marketing your company as THE company of choice in your area- then watch both your customer base and your talent base GROW!

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Nancy O’Hare-Zika is the co-owner of Swick Media Services, a Michigan based media company that focuses on the marketing needs of companies in the PHCE industry. You can find more information from Nancy O’Hare-Zika at: www.SwickMediaServices.com.

When It Comes To Leadership, Appearance Is Important

By Tom Grandy 

A study was recently conducted at a busy intersection of a major city.  A man, we’ll call him John, was dressed in dirty jeans, hair uncombed, unshaven and his shirt tails were hanging out.  John was placed at a busy intersection in front of dozens of unaware bystanders and instructed to walk across the intersection when the light was still green but there were no vehicles in sight.

The moment arrived and John walked across the intersection alone no one followed.

Fast forward a day or two.  John is on the same corner with the same instructions.  However, this time John had shaved, showered, and is dressed in a really sharp suit and tie with shoes polished.  The light is green with no cars in sight.  John steps off the curb and heads across the street.  One other thing happened.  The dozen or so people behind him also stepped off the curb and followed him across the street!

What’s the point?  When it comes to providing leadership appearance does make a difference.  Now I am not promoting a suit and tie wardrobe for technicians but I am strongly suggesting that appearance does make a difference when it comes to leadership.  It makes a difference in the eyes of the customer.  It makes a difference in the eyes of your manager and it sets the technician apart from the other technicians.

A customer’s assessment of a job well done is not simply based on technical expertise in term of fixing a problem.  Neatly dressed, polite technicians make a statement to the customer as well.  Let’s face it.  If two technicians arrived at your house, each with similar technical expertise, and one was clean shaven with a clean uniform on and the other was un kept in a dirty uniform (if he even had a uniform on) which one would give you a warm fuzzy feeling?  Now some are thinking “But Tom, that’s not fair.”  Well I agree, but it’s the impression left with the customer that counts!

Set a Goal and Measure Your Progress

By Tom Grandy 

If you want to get better at what you do, then set specific goals and measure your progress against that goal on a weekly or monthly basis.  It’s a simple process but few of us practice it.

Most technicians wish to advance and earn more money. If that is your goal, don’t depend on your supervisor to set goals for you, set your own.  Believe me, if your sales and/or productivity substantially increases you will be noticed (and rewarded) by management.

Tracking your daily, weekly, or monthly sales can be fun.  Set goals to reduce the number of callbacks you have.  See what percentage of time you collect money at the conclusion of a service call or installation job.  If your daily sales are increasing, the number of callbacks you have are falling and you are physically bringing money back to the office…I promise you, management will notice.

I fully realize some managers may not seem to care about those things.  If that happens to be your situation…do it anyway, for these three reasons:

  1. It provides a wonderful feeling of personal accomplishment.
  2. When it comes time for your annual review you will be armed with information to back up your request for a raise.
  3. Should you find the need to change employers, setting goals and tracking your progress on a regular basis will demonstrate your initiative.

Your future growth and value to the company really does depend on YOU!  Be a self-starter.

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