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10 Ways to Work 'ON' Your Business in 2020

Jan. 10, 2020
Get out of that truck, and work on marketing, vehicle wraps, your company's social media presence, pricing, networking and more!

"E-Myth"  author, Michael Gerber and super contractor, Ken Goodrich shared the stage at the Service World Expo last fall. They stressed the need to work “on” your business, not “in” your business. But how? Here are 10 things to work on in 2020.

1. Goal Setting — “If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there,” said the Cheshire Cat to Alice. Where do you want to go in 2020? What is the goal for sales, gross profit, and net profit? What do you want the business to accomplish?  If you have not defined clear written goals for the business, do it now.

2. Mission, Vision, & Values — While you need goals, you also need a purpose. What is your business’ mission? Why are you in business? Who do you serve and how do you serve them?  

What is your vision for the business? What will it look like in the future? How many trucks will you have in five years? Ten?  How will your organization evolve? What will the future organization chart look like?  

What are the shared values for the business? These values define behaviors, which drive results. What are your company’s values?

3. Pricing — Most contractors price too low, subsidizing their customers at the expense of their employees, family, and future.  When was the last time you calculated what you need to charge to cover all of your direct costs, overhead, and profit to reward the business owners, share with the team, and provide investment funds for the future growth of the business?

4. Price Presentation — Price presentation matters; a lot.  Consumers perceive contractors who charge a flat rate to be a better value and more honest. Accordingly, most established contractors today are flat rate. Yet, flat rate has evolved considerably through the years. In addition to updating your pricing, check your flat rate system against the others on the market. You could be leaving money on the table.  

5. Performance Pay — Gradually, more contractors are adopting performance pay. Many start with installation crews where it is more straight forward. With a shortage of skilled labor threatening every contractor, performance pay is a way to get more work from the existing headcount. With performance pay, people are being rewarded the same way an owner is rewarded, so it should not be a surprise that performance pay employees work harder, smarter, and faster.

6. Vehicle Wraps — If your trucks are white, you are wasting your greatest potential advertising vehicle (pun intended). Your vehicles receive tens of thousands of exposures every day. White trucks look like other white trucks. Pick bold colors and get a good graphic designer to create a vehicle wrap that pops! Focus on your logo and brand; no one else’s. Stress your website over your phone number (it is easier to remember a website). This should be a high priority.

7. Social Media — If you and your company are not active on social media, start. Build a community that feels connected to you. Be personal. Be real. Speak with your authentic voice, no one else’s. Social media’s big five is Facebook, Linked In (more for B2B), Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube. Get active on each of them.  

While not technically social media, complete your local Google page. Think of this as a free, mini-website.

8. Marketing, Recruiting, and Training Calendars — Set a marketing budget and spread it throughout the year.  Identify the media, purpose (customer retention, customer acquisition, or average ticket increases for in-season marketing), promotion, and start/end dates.  

Make a similar calendar for recruiting. Identify when you need to add people, when you plan on holding recruiting events, when there are local job fairs, and so on.

Ron Smith says, “Training is management’s greatest responsibility.” The training calendar identifies what training you will offer, when it will be offered, where the training will occur, and who will lead it. Some will occur in your shop. Some will be online or distance learning. Some will be manufacturer led and some will be local association led.

9. Network — Few contractors like to network and even fewer make an effort. However, your ability to personally influence your community is an advantage the big boxes, dot coms, and review sites will never be able to match. Get involved with your local chamber of commerce. Join one or more service or civics club like Rotary, Lion’s, Kiwanis, Optimist, or Civitan.

10. Yourself — Do not forget to work on yourself as part of working on your business. What seminars and conferences will you attend in 2020? What books will you read? What groups will you join?

Work on yourself by attending the Spring International Roundtable in San Diego March 11-12. For more information, visit Or, call 877-262-3341.

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable ( The Service Roundtable is an organization founded to help contractors improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Service Nation Alliance is a part of this overall organization. Matt was inducted into the Contracting Business HVAC Hall of Fame in 2015. He is now an author and rancher.