iMarket Solutions Blog : Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Lead Your Company to Growth with These 6 Principles

Monday, June 24th, 2019

Motivation comes and goes.

But if your business is losing money, you’ll suddenly have plenty of motivation. Every hour of work will be dedicated to adjusting prices, improving techniques, and generating more leads.

Let’s say you’re making 12% profit before taxes. For an HVAC contractor, that’s a true marker of success. You could strive to hit 16% and above, but at that point, it’s optional.

Of course, “optional” never motivated anyone. Even the blatant fact that 16% is better than 12% isn’t enough to spark motivation.

The most powerful motivators come from our emotions, and there’s nothing our emotions respond to better than pain.

The way to get that pain back in your life is by holding not just yourself, but your entire business, up to a new set of goals and values. When done successfully, the pain of staying comfortable will grossly outweigh the pain of growing.

By establishing those goals and values throughout the company, they can take root and create cognitive dissonance—the feeling that your actions are not living up to your standards.

Instilling cognitive dissonance will create new thinking patterns and turn them into improved performance:

It won’t be enough to give yourself and your employees a morale-boosting pep talk. Those feelings will hardly last until the next quarter, let alone the next week.

To truly keep motivation for growth burning strong, you’ve got to change thinking patterns, and it all begins with instilling a solid set of principles for growth and execution.

1. Create a Plan and Buy-In

Before you can do anything, you need to start with what Jim Collins defined as the BHAG—the Big Hairy Audacious Goal—in his book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies:

“A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as a unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.”

Your BHAG should consider what’s possible for your business in a ten-year timeframe. Then, reverse-engineer it into smaller goals to mark significant milestones. For example, five-year goals, three-year goals, one-year goals.

The purpose of these goals is to improve the current condition of the company. Examples include factors like pricing, sales process, marketing plan, and more.

Establishing a plan and getting buy-in from the organization will unite everyone’s efforts in moving to the next level.

2. Leadership Matters – Not Just Yours

Good leadership gets people in alignment, and that’s great for getting everyone to work together.

However, leadership also means giving your team a model of success—what we call the “white rhinoceros.”

Try this exercise with your team:

Have everyone draw a picture of a white rhinoceros from their imagination (no cheating!)

Most people will draw it poorly. After seeing a picture of a real rhinoceros, most people will see they mistakenly only drew one horn instead of two.

Did they draw the rhinoceros so poorly because they weren’t trying?

Of course not—everyone was giving the right effort in design and in the work. The problem is that they weren’t sure what the work really was in the first place.

Good leadership is about giving people the model of success. You need to give people the right expectations and define the proper attitudes from the very beginning. If you don’t provide it, they’ll do what they think is best. While that can lead to good work, it will mostly lead to inconsistent work.

3. Raising Others “Up” Is Key

We’ve all heard this old saying:

“Your business is only as good as your employees.”

When your employees get better at what they do, your business gets better with them. The people are the driving force behind the growth.

But as business owner or manager, it’s on you to take ownership and responsibility of their individual growth.

Your efforts for improving your employees should revolve around:

  • Teamwork and interrelationships
  • Training and development
  • Understanding and awareness

There must be a constant thought process about how to improve your employees’ performance. For example, if you have a mid-manager who is a level 7 on the leader scale, how do you bring them up to level 8? And then to level 9?

4. Changing the Entrepreneur’s Work

When you first started the business, you had no choice but to think like an entrepreneur. However, a key factor of growth is evolving from that entrepreneur mindset and into one of a leader.

When you’re working as the entrepreneur, you’re still involved in the day-to-day operations of the business:

  • Directly involved, responsible, and in control.
  • “The passion” behind what happens every day.
  • Living in the world of unknowns—every new day could be a high or a low.

In order to focus on making the business grow, you must step back and become the leader:

  • Allowing others to take responsibility for your tasks.
  • Organizing the business so that the owner doesn’t have to be present.
  • Developing plans for your employees’ growth.

Many business owners are hoping to get to this stage but are unsure how to proceed. The secret is relinquishing control—a thinking pattern adjustment.

It also requires patience and allowing others to fail. Even if you don’t think someone is necessarily on the right path or doing things the way they should be done, there are times where you must let them experience how business works—both in success and in failure.

5. Mastering Accountability

In order to step away from the business, you need to know what direction it’s heading and how to keep it on track. Not only that, but the leaders in your company must be capable of steering the ship, too. The way we do this is by staying accountable with key performance indicators (KPIs).

For example, let’s say you and the manager of the service department both understand that the labor to revenue ratio KPI is 22%. Yet, the data shows 28%. You and the manager should both understand—independently—that there needs to be some investigation into dispatch, travel time, technical capabilities, and so forth.

Teaching others how to interpret the numbers is the first step. The second step is teaching them how to make adjustments based on those interpretations. If you do that, you should be able to reach a new level of accountability that gives you more freedom, gives you the ability to pay people differently, to reward people based on success patterns, and more.

6. Measure the Top Five to Ten Key Metrics

There will be plenty of metrics and KPIs to keep track of, but there are usually 5 to 10 that drive the principles of success and failure in any company.

When you’re making mistakes in the business, it’s not always clear-cut where they’re coming from. But, with a good set of key metrics, you should be able to narrow down the problem.

Not only will these metrics help you understand the business’s weak points, but it will also show you what’s working well.

Refining these metrics, again and again, is key to maintaining growth.

When trying to create and measure essential KPIs in areas outside of your expertise—such as in marketing and customer acquisition—you might need to outsource help to a lead generation company for contractors. Instead of trying to form those KPIs on your own, you can rely on their specialists to set those KPIs and achieve them for you.

Conclusion

As soon as growth becomes optional, we tend to lose the sense of pain that brought us up in the first place.

However, we can find our motivation again with the right combination of growth and execution principles.

Instilling these principles throughout the company can create just enough cognitive dissonance to make it more painful not to grow.

Nothing is more essential to growth than lead generation! To learn more about our lead generation strategies for contractors, contact iMarket Solutions.

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Tips for Recruiting Top Talent

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

It might just be the most difficult part of the trade – how do you recruit top talent? You want the very best contractors, managers, and leaders on your team, but how do you go about finding them?

Your role as the business owner is to ‘sell’ your company – not only to potential clients, but to potential employees as well. Job candidates want to know that your company can not only provide the rewards and pay they deserve, but that it can also provide the training, support and development plans to advance their career.  

It’s About More Than the Money

Deciding to work for a company is as much an emotional decision as it is a logical one. Potential hires find it necessary to feel the culture of the business, to see that their talents will match company values and brand promises.

For this reason, it is important to have your values clearly and concisely defined. You need to be able to define “the why” of your business – why do you do what you do? Additionally, you want to be able to explain the direction you foresee the business heading – where do you see the company in 3, 5, or even 10 years?

Defining Rewards, Recognition, and Pay

While payscale is an important factor to consider, recruits want to know that their work is going to be recognized and rewarded, and therefore, it is important to outline and discuss the rewards your company offers.

When do I reward my employees?

To provide the rewards and recognition your employees deserve, you need some sort of measurement to track their progress. For example, you might find tracking sales and the ability to meet quarterly sales goals is an effective way to measure the success of an employee.

Take Recruits for a Ride

Potential hires want to know how they are going to be treated as a member of the team. They want to know that their work and talent is going to be welcomed and respected.

To give recruits a sense of how your business operates on a day-to-day basis, you might do well to consider implementing “ride alongs” into your recruitment strategy. This is where potential hires have the opportunity to join current members of your team for a day in the field. This not only gives recruits a good sense of daily operation, but it also sets the grounds for work and character expectations.

The Ability to Grow and Advance

Having clearly defined advancement and development opportunities laid out for potential hires can set your business apart from your competitors. If you desire top talent, you must also recognize that these individuals are seeking the opportunity to grow within your company, and therefore, you must have a development training outline in place.

A development training outline defines the steps and training a hire must complete in order to advance their career in your business. Though the completion of these steps doesn’t necessarily guarantee a promotion, it does qualify employees for the chance to step into the next role.

What is the next role?

In addition to a development training outline, it is important to have a company organization chart, which outlines the structure of the company, roles, and positions. This way, employees have a sense of direction in terms of career advancement.

Finding Talent

We’ve talked a lot about the ways to get people interested in applying for a position in your company, however, we have not yet mentioned where to look for the talent itself.

Fortunately, we no longer have to rely on newspapers to get our help wanted ads out into the world. Internet sites are the perfect medium to broadcast your open positions. Additionally, you may find that creating a video advertisement is a great way to reel in potential candidates. A video allows you to talk directly to recruits about what they can expect from your company.

The Takeaway

When the time comes to fill a position in your company, remember that candidates are looking for more than just good pay. They want to be sure that your company has clearly defined and outlined expectations and values. Additionally, they are going to want to see your business plan and how you plan on growing your company over the next few years.

Potential hires are also going to want to know that they have the opportunity for growth and advancement within the company and that their progress can result in the opportunity to step into another role. Finally, it is important that you provide fair compensation and implement a rewards system in which you track and measure employee success.

iMarket Solutions provides tools and tips to build successful contracting companies. Contact us today to learn more.

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Preparing for the Spring Shoulder Selling Season

Monday, January 28th, 2019

One of the most common challenges contractors face as spring approaches is pushing sales in the shoulder season. For some, the challenge is even greater since the slow selling season happens twice a year—depending on where you are geographically. It’s something that you need a solid plan to overcome, as this potential loss of revenue can impact even the most successful contracting business.

Overcoming Negative Cash Flow

For many, if not most, contractors the shoulder season means there is not enough consumption to overcome the overhead costs of business—there just isn’t enough gross profit during this time. This puts contractors in a tight spot, often with negative cash flow as they struggle to pay the bills and keep quality talent on staff without losing them to other trades.

This leads us to the question we often get, “How can I be successful in the shoulder season?”

One of the first things you’ll need to do as a contractor is recognize when your shoulder season is. At iMarket Solutions, our customers have access to a budget planning tool to help identify their shoulder season as well as how many jobs a contractor would need to overcome this—answering the question, “How many units do I need to sell and how many services do I need to provide in order to break even?”

Service calls aren’t enough—contractors need a mix of business and products sold during this period to be successful. And in order to make these sales, some specific steps need to happen. This starts with conducting a situational analysis of your current marketing plan in order to analyze the problem you’re facing. From there, you’ll need to determine:

  • Your revenue by department (as part of your budget)
  • Your growth by segment, both percentage and dollar amount
  • The mix of business and products you’ll need to sell in order to achieve desired revenue
  • A media plan that delivers the leads you require on a weekly and/or monthly basis
  • How to fix the seasonality problem
  • A promotional and pricing strategy to increase revenue

This last point is often one that contractors resist, but it’s an important one. We encourage you to run promotions during this slow-selling period! In fact, we want you to create a promotional plan so strong that a customer who doesn’t even need what you’re selling feels compelled to react on an emotional level.

Yes, this costs time and money in an already strained period of the year. But, it’s important to think of your business as not only a contracting company, but a retailer. And retailers do what it takes to fill capacity in order to bring sales up and break even sooner. Often, this means offering incentives in order to produce even minimal revenue, with the goal to create lead opportunities and future transactions.

Selling Service Agreements

One of the biggest keys to revenue growth for contractors is service agreements. We encourage you to get your service agreements to 1,500 per million for your residential business unit. Of course, this requires a lot of selling, and many contractors are concerned about this as most technicians are not trained to sell but rather to provide service.

It’s up to you to create a daily training plan in order to arm your technicians with the resources needed to provide accessory sales and service agreements.

“But, what if my technicians just aren’t motivated to sell?”

This is a valid concern. People are fueled by intrinsic motivation, and your technicians may have the limiting belief of, “I’m not a salesperson.” This is exactly why training is so important! In addition to regular training, being upfront and honest with your technicians can do a lot to encourage them. Just like any other business, employees are always looking for answers to “what’s in it for me?”

We encourage starting the conversation by sharing your company’s vision, value, and purpose. Explain in principle to your technicians what is in it for them, and why they should care. Many contractors shy away from sharing financials because they think their technicians aren’t interested. However, being upfront gives them a reason to care and empowers them to understand how they contribute to the company’s overall success.

“What Else Can I Do to Help My Business?”

The methods you implement to sell your products and services during the shoulder season will depend on a number of factors, but here are a few more steps we encourage you to take:

  • Implementing a new sales process
  • Starting a tuck-in strategy in order to add customers to your existing database
  • Implementing an annual reference guide for seasonal discounts and promotions
  • Creating a brand promise that is unique to your market
  • Considering a new vertical to add on to your products and services
  • Tracking all your lead sources and defining your cost per lead

Last, but not least, we encourage you to build your digital branding and online presence. This includes an updated website, a PPC (Pay-Per-Click) search strategy, and social media marketing. It’s important to remember that we are in a period of time when mobile search rules all other forms of internet search, so using these methods along with building organic links with a strong content strategy are essential to forming a reputable digital footprint.

Contact iMarket Solutions today to learn more about our digital solutions and how we can help you overcome the slow selling season.

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