Lori Stuckert

Cultural Contribution

By Gary Hazelberg - Grandy & Associates

What type of company are you?  Are most of your staff very direct, all about getting things done; or very talkative, meetings go on forever, but nothing ever seems to get decided; or are you perfectionists that get stuck in the details. 

The best companies have a mix of communication styles.  In addition to having a mix of styles, each person should feel comfortable expressing their ideas and opinions. This seems obvious, but in many companies, there is a majority of the team that are of one or two types of communication styles and the minority styles feel uncomfortable expressing their thoughts and ideas.

For example; If the majority of the team are perfectionists and interested in making sure things are correct but they can get analysis paralysis, how does the person who has the visionary mindset fit in?  When the visionary talks about an idea about the future, without having all the details worked out, they very likely might get looks of disdain or what planet did that come from? 

What’s wrong with being all of one communication style?   There is less friction at meeting, everyone talks the same language and life just seems more pleasant. The problem is nothing is getting challenged and the company has a difficult time growing.  Companies that are all the same communication style will wither and die, because no new ideas are brought up.  Opportunities will be missed

We can identify the communication style of everyone on your staff. When we do this, we can identify in a very logical way what kind of company are we.  What kind of people are in your company, every communication style is valuable but you must understand what kind of communication styles make up your company.  We recommend the DISC behavioral assessment tool. 

The DISC system divides the personality styles into four quadrants.

  • D = Dominant.
    • People with D personalities tend to be confident and are focused on getting things done even if someone’s feeling might get hurt.
  • I = Influencer
    • People with I personalities tend to be optimistic, very talkative and their emphasis is on relationships and influencing or persuading others. They tend to be less focused on the details.
  • S = Steadiness
    • People with S personalities tend to emphasis cooperation, sincerity, loyalty and dependability. They tend to hide their emotions and can be slow to change
  • C = Compliant
    • People with C personalities tend to emphasis quality, accuracy, expertise and competency. These are the perfectionists.  They can get lost in the details. 

 

These communication styles are identified through a simple test that can be given to each current employee and should also be used during the hiring process. 

Once you identify the communication styles of your current staff, especially owners and managers, you can see what kind of communication style is most common and least common in your company.

Once you identify this, you need to incorporate this in your hiring plan, to try to come as balanced as you can.  The hiring process is difficult, it is hard to get to understand someone in a brief series of interviews.  Often times managers and owners wonder, who is this person that showed up Monday morning, they are sure a lot different than what I interviewed. 

A pre-hire behavioral test can help to get to know the potential employee and see how they will provide value to your company.  You will also learn how to communicate with this person.  If they are a

  • D type personality they will like communications very direct, to the point with no small talk
  • I type personality will appreciate small talk before we talk about business
  • S type personality will focus on the process, what is step 1, 2 and 3
  • C type personality will want to hear and see the details usually in writing.

As a manager or owner this information is extremely valuable, so you can change your communication style so the person you are speaking with will have a better chance of understanding the point you are trying to make.

So, get to know your current staff, find out what kind of communication style is most common in your company and then go out and try to find people that will complete the picture and give you a more well-rounded company.  Make sure everyone feels comfortable stating their opinion by encouraging everyone to contribute.  It will pay off in a company that respectfully challenges the status quo and out performs the competition.

If you would like to learn more about this process, please contact us at:   https://www.grandyassociates.com/contact or give us a call to discuss how we can help you.

Trades Companies Don’t Die Easily – PART 2 OF 2

By Tom Grandy, Founder

Last month we talked about how many trades companies are in the process of going out of business…and don’t even know it.  Typically, the process takes 1-4 years during which there are usually three distinct steps or stages.  Step 1 and Step 2 were discussed last month.  If you missed last month’s article, click Part 1 and review it prior to moving forward.  This month we are going to discuss Step 3, which is often the final step prior to closing the doors.

Step 3

The company is now four or five years old. Gross sales have contin­ued to climb. Most of the low-profit, new-home construction work has been phased out, with residential and commercial sales climb­ing. The company has gained an outstanding reputation in town for doing quality work, and support staff and a couple additional techs have been added to the payroll. The trucks are looking a bit ragged but as soon as the company makes a little more money, it will be able to afford the additional loan payments to at least replace the service trucks. The owner has really missed having dinner with the family, but things will smooth out soon. Before long, the owner hopes to be able to attend one of Billy’s ball games and/or take the family on a real vacation!

However, the current reality is that cash flow is really tight. The company has been placed on COD (again) and redepositing the money it borrowed from the family savings account — well, it just hasn’t happened yet. The owner’s wife is also getting nervous. She has been working in the office the past couple of years and she keeps pestering her husband about her inability to pay the bills at home, as well as the office.

Sales are up but pressures are building. Cash flow is as tight as it has ever been and profits seem to be on a downward spiral. The owner’s thinking is similar to the past several years: “If we can just hold on a bit longer, just a little bit longer, I know we will get over the hump and everything will be lovely on the other side.”

Solution to Step 3

The company appears to be doing well. It has moved into a new building and several more techs have been added to the payroll. New trucks (purchased through a variety of loans from different banks) have replaced many of the old ones and the company’s reputation in town is building. The company just needs more cash to buy time so the current bump in the road can be conquered and then everything will be wonderful on the other side.

At this point, the line of credit has been maxed out, and using the suppliers as the company’s bank has ceased now that the final supplier in the area has placed the company on COD. All unnec­essary extra inventory has been sold, as well as some of the older equipment and vehicles, just to generate a bit more cash. The reality however, is that it’s still not enough to get the company through the current cash crunch. Then, the lightbulb goes off. The house! That’s it. The owner will secure that second or third mortgage on the house. That will generate the needed cash to get over the hump and on to the greener pastures that have been dreamed of for the past several years. It will be a tough sell to the owner’s wife but she will understand, if she doesn’t divorce the owner first.

With negotiations completed, the second mortgage on the house is secured. The cash goes back into the company and everything really is lovely…for a while. Then 6, 12 or perhaps 18 months later, the company owner finds himself or herself right back in the same position he/she was in during Steps 1 and 2. However, this time there is one very subtle difference. The need for cash is there as in the past but at this point there is no place to get it from. The banks, suppliers, friends, and family have all been tapped out.

Then the light bulb, glowing like the noonday sun comes on, allowing the real question to be honestly asked: “What is the real root problem that has not been addressed in the past?”

Two things that put most companies out of business

Typically, there are two things that put most trades companies out of business. The Number One cause of business failure within the trades industry is improper labor pricing. Translated, most com­pany owners are unaware of what they really need to be charging per hour in order to cover their real costs of doing business (from a cash flow perspective) while generating a reasonable profit. As mentioned earlier, most new companies set their initial rates slightly below what the rest of the local owners are charging with little regard for what their new start-up company really needs to be charging to make a reasonable profit. As cash flow gets tighter and tighter the tendency is to bump their rates a bit, with fear and trembling again, with little regard as to what the rates really need to be to generate the profit they desire.

The Second cause within the industry is cash flow. A company can be priced absolutely perfectly and still go out of business because of cash flow issues. It takes a lot of cash to run a business. It takes cash to fund inventory and receivables. It takes cash to cover the general overhead of the business, and of course, it takes cash to make payroll each week. Lastly, it takes significant amounts of cash to fund the growth of the company. Most trades companies start out with little to no cash and are therefore at a serious disadvantage right from the very beginning.

According to the United States government, 25% of all start-up companies fail the first year, 35% by the second year, 60% by the fifth year, and a whopping 70% by the 10th year! However, after having spent most of my life working with contractors within the trades industry, I suspect the failure rate within the trades industry is a lot higher than those general numbers provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If any of the points discussed in this two-part article sound familiar, take them as a wakeup call!  Since most companies fail because of improper labor rate pricing, it might be time to take a day off to review the company’s labor rates from a cash flow standpoint.

Have you ever been part of the process of closing out a friend’s or family members estate?  It’s a tough process and I have been through it three times.  There are dozens of details that the average person never thinks to ask or record until it’s too late. Things like:  Do they have a will and where is it?  What investments do they have and where are they located?  Does the person have a safe deposit box and if so, which bank and where is the key?  How about a list of loans and/or automatic payments from a checking account?  Dozens and dozens of these kinds of questions are all found in the What’s Where When You’re Gone? manual.  This month the manual (which also includes a PDF version if you prefer to enter data that way) is only $24.00 this month. Order today

Trades Companies Don’t Die Easily – PART 1 of 2

By Tom Grandy, Founder of Grandy & Associates

If companies failed quickly and all for the same basic reason, most owners would soon learn to avoid the traps and move on to profit­able growth. However, it doesn’t work like that, at least not within the trades industry. It’s often a slow death.

To illustrate the point, let’s review the often-told story of our friendly local frog named Bill. One day Bill gets caught by some neighborhood children and they drop Bill into a pot of boiling water to see what happens. Bill was the head of his class at frog school and immediately realized something had dramatically changed and not for the better. This was not the pond in which he was used to swimming. Being a smart frog with exceptional intelligence, our friendly local frog almost immediately realized the water was not good for swimming and instantly jumped out of the pot. Disaster was avoided and life as a local frog continued uninterrupted.

Now the scene changes to focus on Robert. Robert is a local frog too, but not as smart as Bill. Let’s just say he is closer to the bottom of the class than the top. The local kids remembered how Bill reacted when dropped into the pot of boiling water so they decided to try a different approach to see how another frog would react. It didn’t take long for Robert to get caught. Before he knew it, he found himself in a big pot of cool water. Life was good. He swam back and forth enjoying the cool and refreshing water.

The neighborhood kids now turn up the heat, just a little. Robert doesn’t even notice. There aren’t any other frogs around but hey, that’s great. It seems he has found the only uninhabited pond in the area. A couple hours later, the kids turn up the heat a bit more. Robert is beginning to realize the water is a bit warmer than before but it’s no big deal. It’s midday and the sun has been out all day long so the water should be a bit warmer, right?

The kids continue turning up the heat ever so gradually throughout the day. To the children’s surprise, Robert makes no effort to jump out of the pot even though he could easily do that at any point. The temperature is turned up a couple more times and soon it’s time for dinner, so everyone heads home for the night. At this point, Robert is sweating a bit but still relatively happy to have this small pond all to himself. He is getting a bit uncomfortable but then who isn’t every once in a while? The next morning, the neighborhood kids agree to meet at 7 a.m. to see how their friendly frog is doing. To their surprise, Robert was floating upside down, dead as a doornail. Robert had croaked!

How could that have happened? The water was hot and Robert should have jumped out of the pot, but he didn’t. Why? It was because the changes in his environment were so gradual, he didn’t even notice…until it was too late!

The One- to Four-Year Process of Going Out of Business

Guess what? The process of going out of business within the trades industry is not all that different than our friend Robert’s situation. It generally takes one to four years for most trades companies to go out of business. The actual process goes largely unnoticed until it’s too late. However, there are typically three very distinct steps, or stages, that take place during the process.

Step 1

The company has been in business for perhaps 18 months. Things are going well. An additional tech or two is hired and the com­pany is growing. Sales are up. Typically, the new entrepreneur is still working out of his or her home. However, there is this strange, unexpected, phenomenon beginning to take place. Sales are con­tinuing to increase but profitability seems to be slipping. Even with the increased sales, cash flow seems to be more and more of an issue. Some weeks, even the company’s small payroll is hard to meet. It’s not all that unusual for the new company owner to miss a pay­check or two. Sure, profits are down and cash flow is tight, but the new owner is 100% confident it is just a natural phase of being in business. It will pass. In the meantime, however, something has to be done.

Solution to Step 1

The good news is that the solution is relatively simple. The com­pany just needs to do more work! Instead of working 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, it begins working 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, and on occasion all 7 days. The bump in the road is averted. Cash flow has increased and with it the pressure of meeting payroll has sub­sided. The company can now pay its bills on time, consistently make payroll, and best of all, the owner is being paid — most of the time. All is good for another 6, 12 or perhaps even 18 months. Then…the company finds itself right back in the same situation it was in at the beginning of Step 1. Sales are up, profits are down, and cash flow is tight.

Step 2

The company is now two or three years old. It’s growing and gain­ing a pretty good reputation in the area. Things had gotten a bit tight working out of the house, so the company has moved to some rental space that seems to meet its current needs. Another tech or two has joined the team and sales are continuing to increase. Life is pretty good with a couple of minor exceptions.

Even though sales are up, profitability seems to be falling…again! When it comes to receivables, those lousy home builders are now taking 30–60 days to pay. Even some of the company’s residential customers aren’t paying their invoices on time. Just because it some­times takes a week or two to get the invoice out is no reason they shouldn’t pay on time. The receivables problem is also causing a domino effect with the company’s suppliers. Suppliers are no longer getting paid on time, every month. Sometimes payments are 30, 60 or even 90 days late. As a matter of fact, last week the rep even mentioned those dreaded letters COD* during his visit. Gee, it’s not our fault. If we don’t get paid on time, how can they expect us to pay on time?

Some of the minor bumps in the road are getting rather serious. However, the company is continuing to grow, with sales up nearly 30% over last year. If the company can simply hang on, just a little bit longer, everyone is totally convinced it will get over the hump and everything will be lovely on the other side. The owner is work­ing 60–70 hours a week but that can’t be all that unusual for young companies. Purchasing that boat and cabin at the lake may take a bit longer than originally anticipated but it will come. Since sales are increasing, significant profitability can’t be that far off. We just need to buy a bit more time so we can get over the current hump.

Solution to Step 2

Once again, the solution seems relatively simple. The first year or two, when the company was making money, the owner was smart enough to put some of that money aside in a savings account. The current “temporary” bump in the road can easily be solved with a bit of additional cash. The owner simply needs to take funds out of his family’s savings account and invest those dollars back into the company. The owner’s wife won’t be thrilled but she worries too much. Entrepreneurs take risks; it’s a natural part of the growth process, right? Anyway, it will be a temporary loan. With a little luck, the money will be returned to the savings account soon, plus some. The owner’s wife will then understand and be grateful for her husband’s wise business decision.

The savings account money is then invested back into the com­pany, and everything seems fine, for another 6, 12 or perhaps an additional 18 months. The bills are paid, the threat of COD has pretty much vanished and everything “seems” ok. However, as the months pass, an all-too-familiar pattern seems to be repeating itself. Sales are continuing to climb, cash flow is getting tighter, and profits are falling.

Next month we will discuss the third, and often the final, stage of going out of business.

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Change the Channel

By Dave Ramsey, CEO Ramsey Solutions

When I was a little kid, all the TVs in our neighborhood had a remote channel changer. I remember the three channels on the TV—ABC, NBC and CBS ruled the world. Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley were the deliverers of all truth on the nightly news, be it good or bad.

Shortly before my fifth birthday we bought our first color TV. On my birthday we had a Super-Saturday-Cartoon-in-Color party, so all the neighborhood kids could come see cartoons in color. For a moment, I was popular. The TV my parents bought was the size of a small pickup truck. In those days, TVs were a piece of furniture—a large piece of furniture. This TV was so cool that we ran a wire out the window to a big-time antenna on the roof to increase the quality of the signal. Gone were the old rabbit ears, and the instructions on how to hold them just right by my dad.

But the most groundbreaking, life-changing technology this TV had was a Remote Channel Changer. It was a small handheld device that notified the TV with a “click” to change the channel. The changer was a “clicker,” and that is what we call the remote in my home to this day. This marvel of technology gave hope to all the kids on my street that they, too, could be set free from the drudgery of being the manual channel changer.

You see, when I said all the TVs in my neighborhood had remote channel changers, I was telling the truth. The channel changers just looked like little kids. The dad would position himself after hard day’s work and a great dinner in the recliner. He would then grab the TV Guide, the bible for TV watchers that detailed the times and content of programing. Then as the evening progressed, if the program was slow or even if it wasn’t, the dad would proclaim to the kid on the floor, “Change the channel!” We small children were the remote changers for dads in their recliners.

It’s also possible the remote began the downfall of our civilization. I’ve wasted hours of my life surfing channels. For no apparent reason, I stumble onto a movie I’ve seen six times, and watch it again. Often, I’m not even intentional about what I watch. See, back in the pre-remote age, we watched things on purpose.

I’ve noticed life is like that. I have to do things on purpose if I want to win. What I do on purpose, what I’m intentional about and pay attention to, I win at.

Life doesn’t have a remote. You have to get up and change the channel. When I take the easy path, and don’t make clear, purposeful decisions, the result is mediocrity. When I pay attention to my wife, my marriage is better. When I run a half marathon, I have to focus on training. If I don’t, race day is embarrassing. People who become great leaders, or build successful businesses, don’t do it by accident. People don’t win by accident.

The bad news is my success is up to me. The great news is my success is up to me. Yes, there are systems and prejudices that are stacked against me and you. We can’t control those, but we can control what we pay attention to.

So, what do you want to win at? Business, leadership, parenting, marriage, health, generosity, spiritual growth? You can do it. But you have to get up and change the channel!

  * Leadership and small business expert Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored numerous best-selling books, including EntreLeadership. The Ramsey Show is heard by 18 million listeners each week on more than 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms.

This is the Way to Grow Your Business

By Tom Grandy, Founder

Working with this contractor, as a customer, was an out of body experience!  It was kind of like riding a great roller coaster.  Each part of the journey gets better and better.  The ride ends and you take a deep breath and say to yourself, “That was a great experience.”

The paint store recommended a specific painter for our project as it meant stripping and re-staining our front door.  It takes a unique talent for this type of work.  I was not familiar with the company they recommended but I made the call.  To my complete amazement, the owner answered the phone and set an appointment to meet with me the following day.  He showed up right on time.  My wife and I walked him through our list of painting needs both inside the house and outside.  He took notes and made a list of what needed to be done.  After sharing his hourly rate, he informed us that since it was fall it would be at least 6 months before he would be able to do the work.  We were a bit downcast but to date, had not been able to find any painter willing to tackle the door.  He was given the go ahead and we were on the list.

Two weeks ago, he called.  Since we had inside and outside painting to do and it was still too cool to work on the door, he asked if he could start the inside painting the next day.  We gave him the go ahead.  He told us he and his son would be at our home at 8:30 AM the next day.  They showed up at 8:30 AM sharp!  After some introductory chit-chat we discovered this father/son team were third and fourth generation painters.  His grandfather was a painter and had 12 children, seven of which were boys.  All the boys were painters.  His dad was one of them.  Their work ethic and attention to detail quickly became evident.  They were not only good at what they did, they enjoyed it!

We never touched a thing.  Furniture was moved, pictures were taken from the walls and clean drop cloths covered everything.  They left at 3:00 PM but before they left everything was in order.  Drop cloths picked up, all paint and supplies were neatly stored in the corner of the room, and they vacuumed the area.  Yes, they vacuumed the entire area!  Except for their small pile in the corner, all was neat and clean.

Each day they arrived at 8:30 AM sharp and left at 3:00.  Later we found out that he left at 3:00 each day to go do estimates for customers.  He explained that he answers every phone call personally and visits each potential customer the next day, no matter how backed up he may be.

The quality of their work was amazing, and they were fast.  What I thought would take at least a week to do, inside the house, took less than three full days.  Best of all, the price was about a third of what I expected.  Quality workers tend to work fast because they are good at what they do.

By the time they left everything was back in order.  Furniture was in its place and all pictures were back on the walls.  If you didn’t know they had been here, you would never know it. 

What Did We Learn?

  • Answer the Phone – It’s hard to make a sale if you don’t answer the phone. If your company is large, it may take a team…but answer the phone 24/7/365.  If you or your staff can’t answer it personally, have someone (real person) answer it.  When a customer calls, they want to talk to someone or they would not have called.  If no one answers the phone, the lead is likely lost.
  •  
  • Give the Customer a Visit ASAP – Remember, the customer called because they have a need. Slow responses give the impression you are not interested in their business.
  •  
  • Show Up on Time – Show up for bid appointments and for the actual job on time. Respect the customer’s time.
  •  
  • Tell Your Story – Potential customers want to know how long you have been in business and why you started the company. In general, you need to share your history.  It creates a bond and builds relationships.  Customers want to work with people they trust.
  •  
  • Fully Realize There Is a Direct Relationship Between How Clean You Leave the Site and the “Perceived” Value of the Work – Most customers see a direct relationship between the quality of work performed and how clean the area is when the work is done. Clean the area when you leave = Great job.  Mess when you leave = Poor quality of work.  It may not be true but perception (in the customers mind) is truth.
  •  
  • Top Quality Work Is a Given – Top quality work is very important. However, if you fail in the above areas, quality work will not be enough to win over the customer.
  •  

By the way. How many people do you think I will share with about the great painting job I just had done?  That is why my painter invests zero dollars in advertising and marketing.  Word of mouth keeps his schedule full.

Although everything we just discussed is true, if the product or service isn’t priced right the company is still going to go out of business.  If your office staff and employees don’t believe in your pricing, they will tend to undercharge the customer. 

This month’s Website Special is our Why Do We Need To Charge So Much? program.  It helps everyone within the company understand why the company needs to charge what it charges.  The program is normally $139.95 but this month it’s only $99.95Order today and enter coupon code: Why40 at checkout.   

Valuations & Pricing of a Business For Sale…What Should be Considered

By Glen Herman, Business Intermediary, Creative Business Services

We often discuss the importance of clean and accurate financials when running a business or positioning it for sale.  To properly value your business, you will need to have 5 years of financials (specifically, the Profit & Loss Statements and Balance Sheets).  While the financials will help determine the baseline of your value, they may not reflect the potential pricing of the business in terms of what the market is willing to pay.

We often see “rules of thumb” and see calculators on the internet when it comes to the value and pricing of businesses.  These are often based on a multiple of revenue or income but inevitably fail to consider some key components that will leave money on the table when you exit your company.  The reason is simple, they often fail to account for the personal use items that can be added back to earnings (cell phones, autos, etc.) and, also fail to consider the market forces that impact value (scarcity of labor, geography, availability of capital, etc).  We will discuss a few of these methods and considerations:

 Multiples of earnings:  While these are typical starting points for the value of a business, there is a lag time between the data reporting of business sales across the nation, and the valuation of a business at a given point in time.  We have seen an increase in multiples since 2021 in several sectors.  Although these multiple changes do not represent dramatic shifts, having an in-depth understanding of the market niche clients are in can have an impact on value.  Think about the difference between a multiple of x3.5 and x4.0 would do to a business with earnings of $500,000/year.  “Rules of thumb” in the case of multiples are not the most effective means of determining value.  They really need to be considered by a valuation and pricing specialist. 

Scarcity of labor:  There are occasions where a buyer is looking to expand market share or grow into a specific territory but is constrained by labor.  This can mean a potential value proposition in terms of sale value.  Labor can be a large barrier to entry for competing firms to enter your market.  If you have a well-trained and professional team, there is value there.  A firm’s greatest asset is often times it’s people!

Geography:  For well established companies (not in terms of longevity but in terms of market share) that have 90% market share in specific communities, geography can be a barrier to entry for competition.  If demand for entrance into a specific geography is desired by the market of buyers, a premium may be available in terms of pricing of a company.

Buyers-test method:   This is a determination of value that provides the value based on what traditional lending sources are willing to lend to a buyer to purchase a business in a particular industry of a particular size.  While this approach takes into account traditional financing, it does not look at creative deal structure, like owner financing and earn-out provisions.  This is often the consideration of value that individual buyers will focus on because they are using traditional lending.  A business broker can help add value to the sale through creative deal structure to maximize seller value. 

When considering the sale of a business, a professional business broker sets a sale pricing with their clients based on the determination of financial value, market value, and market appetite.  While the process of setting a price begins with the valuation, the process of positioning a business for sale often starts years before.  An early result will almost always result in a higher sale value!

If you have any questions regarding the sale of your business, please call or email me today!

Glen Herman   |   Business Intermediary

Creative Business Services / CBS-Global LLC

Business Brokerage | Mergers & Acquisitions | Consulting
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