Learn From the Best

Aug. 21, 2013
This week, I’m attending a workshop with some of the nation’s top contractors. The brainpower and experience in the room is awesome. Today, I asked a few to share something learned through the years that would have made their journey easier. Here’s their advice:

This week, I’m attending a workshop with some of the nation’s top contractors.  The brainpower and experience in the room is awesome.  Today, I asked a few to share something learned through the years that would have made their journey easier. 

Here’s their advice:

Know your numbers.  Invest in a properly staffed high caliber accounting team that can give the organization a daily profit & loss.  Waiting until the following month to see how your business performs is like reading ancient history.Ken Goodrich, Goettl, Phoenix & Tucson, AZ.

Build a strong culture.  The key to building a strong culture is training.  A lot of companies look at training as a liability.  It should be viewed as an asset. 

People ask me why we spend so much money on employees who might leave.  I reply, “What if they stay?”

I’m not just referring to industry and technical training.  That’s a given.  I’m referring to personal training that makes them better people, such as team building, communication classes, public speaking, and leadership training.  You will have employees who are engaged and excited to come to work.  Go a step farther and have the spouses or someone close attend the training so they can support each other.  You will have a high flying, energized, excited team with support from their team at work and also, at home.  It’s the right people on our bus that has made us grow.Rusty Cochran, WC Heating and Air Conditioning Inc., Murrieta, CA.

A lot of technicians, especially young, new technicians, cannot afford HVAC tools.  If they can’t afford them, they’ll buy used ones.  Or worse, they won’t buy them at all and use what’s necessary on the job.  We’ve always purchased all tools except small tools, like screwdrivers.  Your technicians represent your company.  Do not allow them to take short cuts because their tools are broken or they don’t have them in the first place.Brad McGhee, LBA Air Conditioning, Mission, KS.

“Sales packets” are a great tool.  We took the idea for a “service tech pack” and made one for sales.  The office keeps the sales packets filled with load calculation forms, measurement forms, finance paperwork, literature, etc.  Having the materials in one place means we never forget a piece and are prepared to close the sale at all times.Corey Hickmann, Comfort Matters, Hanover, MN.

Training is invaluable.  Unfortunately, many contractors hesitate to train.  They think, “If I train my people too much, they’ll leave me to start their own business or to work for another company.”

What if they stay?  People will always come and go, but most will see through education that it’s not greener on the other side and will be highly skilled, profitable, successful employees, and remain loyal to your company.  Training does not cost money!
Justin Lauten, Total Air and Heat, Plano, TX.

Always try to hire up.  Hire people who know more than you do.  I’ve found that when I’m surrounded by very smart, team players, it makes me look very good.  The company grows in a healthy manner.  Don’t be afraid of being replaced.  Only be afraid of staying small and not reaching your full potential.John Price, Aloha Aire, Texarkana, TX.

To succeed in life and business, don’t struggle searching for that one extraordinary thing.  Focus on doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.Eric Dutton, Dutton Plumbing, Thousand Oaks, CA.

Ready.  Fire.  Aim. 

Try everything that “sounds like it will work” for a little while.  Implement it.  Work it.  Analyze it.  Refine it.  Work it again.  Analyze it.  Decide whether to continue it or abandon it. 

Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.Steve Miles, Jerry Kelly Air Conditioning, St. Charles, MO.

Stay focused on your field of diamonds rather than constantly looking for more fields.  Only expand your market area when you own the one you are in.  Stay focused!Larry Taylor, Fort Worth, TX.

Hire people to fill in your gaps or weaknesses.  Too often we hire people just like us.  We hire people we like.  This is a great way to form a cult (or maybe, a gang), but a poor way to be successful.  

Find someone who is not only good at the things you are not, but who enjoys doing them.  Remember, it’s all about the result at the end of the day.
Terry Barrett, AirNow, Millbrook, AL.

Join some type of contractor sharing group, such as an ACCA MIX™ Group, Service Nation Alliance, or other peer group.  Ask questions and share information.  Offer to help others in the industry.  You will get a greater return than what you invest.Steven Long, GSM Services, Gastonia, NC.

Know your numbers.  Hire well.  Invest in your people.  Position them to succeed.  Take action.  Keep focused.  Interact with smart people in the industry.

Simple, right?

Come to the Service Roundtable meeting at Comfortech to hear Mark Matteson, Charlie Greer, Ken Goodrich, John & Vicki LaPlant, Ron Smith, Russ Duker, Eric Rausin, David Heimer, Brandon Jacob, Ed O’Connell, Scott Robinson, Daniel Boyette, Larry Taylor, and Ben Stark.  Call 877.262.3341 and ask for a Success Consultant to secure the absolute lowest rate for Comfortech.

About the Author

Matt Michel | Chief Executive Officer

Matt Michel was a co-founder and CEO of the Service Roundtable (ServiceRoundtable.com). 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.