First let me say, I have been extremely fortunate that 99% of my career in the HVACR industry has been spent directly interacting with the contractor. Whether in a service training role, a commercial project expeditor role, a TM sales role or consultant/coaching role the objective was always to move the performance needle in a more positive direction and contribute to significant improvements. Of course, service-sales-installation-billing-dispatch-inventory-ordering-database-vehicles-ERP are simply the price of admission! Not overlooked but taken as assumptive basics.
So, here are 10 observations from that 45 year cumulative experience that are imperatives for business success and business model differentiation.
The foundation of a legacy company includes:
1….a vision of the business’ future for the requirements of Leadership, Culture and Management Structure…beginning with the end in mind including an exit strategy…knowing when the time is right to install a Leadership Team, start a branch operation, add a new service…take that Leap of Faith. Setting and communicating the highest standards of performance and craftsmanship for terms of employment.
2….defined employee roles complete with scope of work responsibilities, job descriptions and process design for predetermined results and outcomes with a clear understanding of skill development required. Seamless and efficient operational functionality is the strength of the platform.
3….completed annual business plan focused on key goals that are integrated with budget, marketing, employee training, capital needs with special emphasis on leading with technology, software and hardware investments, manpower, calendar of events and most importantly specific actionable items.
4.…constant examination of successful pathways taken by others by reading books like the E-Myth, Good to Great, HVAC Spells Wealth, American Icon, Profit First, Traction, Leadership with a Purpose etc. Embrace knowledge sources where ever they may be found.
5….a high-powered business peer network. Become a joiner…join industry and non-industry groups, organizations and associations…and that includes on-site visits to other companies and always having your door open to others for the sharing of ideas, business tools, challenges and even failures.
6….constant awareness of KPI’s whether daily, weekly, or monthly financials including departmentalized income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement. You absolutely must have a grip on the numbers: listen to the story the company is telling you via numbers and interpret and act on the implications and meanings of the numbers. Allocate overhead for your pricing strategy and use variable margin pricing systems. Periodically have a business valuation conducted to validate that the daily operations are adding value to the enterprise. Share numbers with entire staff and connect financial performance with each position in the company.
7….compensation opportunities for team members near top of going rate range. You will not get the best for the least. Constantly be in a recruitment mode. Be slow to hire and fast to fire. Maintain a focus on individual motivation connected to recognition and reward systems.
8….laser focus on lead generation 24/7/365. and ownership of the market
9….branding the company as a desired place of employment and a beacon of professionalism, respect, appreciation, recognition, responsibility, accountability and customer care.
10…NEVER make excuses because of labor capacity, time or weather, for not doing the absolutes, such as, attending major industry functions like Service World Expo. And, bringing employees to these events to experience what truly can be accomplished in this industry. These key team members will return and become the champions of paradigm shifts whether it is trying new products, new technologies, new processes or simply implementing a weekly meeting schedule with an agenda…NEVER make excuses for not taking time off for self and family….recognize that it is OK to be away from the business and trust that the team will exercise their training and execute to the fullest…oftentimes the company runs more smoothly when Ms/Mr Big is/are away!
Always remember, HVACR, Plumbing and Electrical are fantastic industries. What we do is important and is done by professionals. We save lives, we save our client’s money, we create comfortable, healthy, secure and safe indoor environments and we provide a broad range of residential/commercial automation services.
Footnote: random thoughts of someone who accidentally got into this business and who has been lucky enough to spend a lifetime with some of the most innovative, generous, professional, bright, genuine and thoughtful business risk takers you would ever want to meet…and to make a career of it to boot and have the distinctly unique, exceptional and rewarding pleasure of doing it all with my wife, Vicki LaPlant. We have always tried to make a difference….to make an organization better than yesterday, but, truly exceptional tomorrow. This has led Vicki and me to believe that a day with PURPOSE is a VERY GOOD DAY.
John E. LaPlant…VLE Enterprises/Service Round Table/Service Nation Alliance Business Coach/Consultant/Mentor