Bringing Your Business and Team from Chaos to Control

Have you ever had to run a large-scale job with a poorly structured set of plans? Or perhaps you’ve had to run a job without any plans at all? I can tell you, that as a fellow Electrician, I have been in this position and it turned out to be a disaster. I still question to this day why my boss even took the job in the first place.

Let me reflect on this moment and elaborate on the details so you can better understand the situation. I remember it was a lighting job that cost the company a fortune. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to do a good job or the rest of the crew was lacking the skills or not working hard enough that caused the mayhem. The shear fact that no one had any clue what we should’ve been doing was what caused complete chaos before we had even gotten started. The general contractor would verbally instruct us everyday as to where he wanted the fixtures; changing his mind like having to change a baby’s diaper. The special material required was ordered wrong which resulted in an 8-week lead-time. The layout changed at least 3 times which ran the job more than double the estimated time, it needed 30% more material than quoted, and nobody was happy with the final product.

So what’s the point of my story, and how does it relate to you? Well, whether it’s a job or a business that you’re running, I can assure you, you need a set of plans to clearly define the what, who, and when in order to clearly know how things are going to be done.

“You need a set of plans to clearly define the ‘what, who, and when’ in order to clearly know ‘how’ things are going to be done.”—  tweet this

One of the biggest problems contractors have is that with each job they run, a huge list of issues (due to a lack of structure, order, and plans) starts to pile up and they don’t know where to start in order to resolve them. These contractors spend all day acting as a fire fighter trying to put one issue to rest then jumping onto the next. The result? All this fire fighting is like a bandage to the problem, not a long-term solution, so their list of issues just keeps getting longer and more complicated as time goes on.

If you don’t sit down and create structure within your business and plans for your team, it could result in:

  • Your team being lost and not knowing where to even start on each project
  • A team with zero accountability that can’t ever problem-solve on their own
  • Working more hours and losing the freedom to spend time doing the things you love
  • Having a business that isn’t scalable because it’s just not able to grow beyond where it’s at now

What’s the solution? Let me share with you the 5 steps that are proven to help electrical contractors gain more control of their business:

Step 1— List all of the problems you have in your business. Get your entire team to share what isn’t working for them and get your administrative assistant to compile it.

Step 2— Write a list of all the roles you have in your business. Do you have a Foreman, Electricians, Apprentices, and Accounts Receivable staff? (Ideally you want to draw this up in what is called The Contractor’s Role Assessment chart. Click here to get the easy-to-use tool.)

Step 3— Assign the list of problems to the roles. This will bring light to what areas and roles are weakest so you know what’s causing the cracks in the foundation of your business.

Step 4— Pick the weakest role to focus on fixing first. Break down 2-3 results you want to see from this role. Ex: Foreman: Ensures job is on schedule and in sync with what was quoted.

Step 5— Define the rules for the role. This is where you become leader and start creating systems for each role. Using simple visual aids such as flowcharts, checklists, white boards, and calendars, generally create better outcomes.

Once you have a system in place for a few weeks or months, that has been tested and proven to work, and something goes wrong, you have someone to hold accountable. Always keep in mind though, that as a good leader you must accept the fact that some systems must be tweaked or changed over time to better work with your current crew and business as it currently stands.

Having the roles, results, and rules laid out will allow you to lead your team versus bossing them around and constantly running around resolving issues.

When I look back on that project my boss had our team tackle— without any structure, plans, order, or someone leading the way, it’s no wonder it ended up a disaster. Never forget how important it is to find the weak spots in your business and get to work creating systems that’ll fix them and the issues they cause. You can take your business from chaos to control— it’s just all in how you lead your team and plan for a successful future.

Click here to download the Contractor’s Role Assessment Chart to help accelerate getting more control of your business. If you would like some help using this tool, or would like to chat more about this topic, click here to book time for a complimentary 60-minute chat (valued at $397) sponsored by Electrical Business Magazine.

4 Core Signs you’re Playing to your Employees Strengths

Some people are great at a variety of things. Some people are great at just a few things.

Some people are ‘naturals’; they’re good at just about everything they lay their hands on— but that doesn’t necessarily mean they enjoy doing it.

Even though these people can do just about any and all tasks, I wouldn’t consider most of them their strengths, and that’s because it may be draining to them— stressful, energy-sucking, difficult, you name it.

If you can recognize the true strengths in your team members, you can play them to the best of their abilities and it’d only be beneficial to not only them, but to you and the business as well.

You have to claim your strengths and recognize the signs that define a strength. If we can apply this to ourselves, we can easily apply this to our team. If we can find things we’re good at— that also ‘fuel our tank’, you’ll have a lot more success. And it’ll be a lot easier to move forward in strengthening your business.

There are four core signs, or emotions if you will, to knowing something is truly a strength:

1. Success—

When you do the activity you feel effective and you feel in control. This is where you feel self-sufficient— you can work on your own and know you’ll rock it every time.

2. Instinct—

When you go to do the activity, you look forward to doing it. You’ve got this natural ability for doing this task or activity.

3. Growth—

While you’re working on it, you’ll be very focused and you may lose track of time, because you’ve just lost yourself in the task… in a good way, because you’re keen to learn the task or activity.

4. Needs—

After you’re done the activity, even if you feel drained, you feel fulfilled.

It’s important to understand this because when we get so busy in our work, we sometimes define what we’re good at based upon results. Or we may do the same with our team members.

How many times do owners promote a team member and have them resign within only a few months? How many times does a person land a new position, who’s capable of these higher-value tasks, but in just a few months their performance fails drastically?

Perhaps it wasn’t because these people couldn’t do the jobs, but that the job required them to constantly do tasks and activities that didn’t play to their strengths— it became draining and unfulfilling to them.

You can’t make a weakness a strength— you can help diminish the weakness, and make certain daunting tasks and activities less so, but it’ll never be a natural or true strength.

So how can we minimize our weakness?

1. Stop doing it— team up or delegate the task or activity to others, if possible.

2. Defaulting your time— fill your day with your strengths and gain your energy from those tasks so that when you must handle a task or activity that is your weakness, you don’t get completely overwhelmed in your day.

3. Change your lens of strength— change your perspective on the matter, because sometimes you may think an entire task or activity is your weakness, but in reality only one small aspect or detail is. i.e.: You hate confrontation and arguments with clients or coworkers, but love research, problem-solving, and asking questions. So next time you find yourself in an argument, take it upon yourself to ask a lot of questions in order to solve the problem, and play it from a different angle.

Now that you have better knowledge on strengths and weaknesses in the work place, it’s time to step back and evaluate your team members.

So for example, instead of focusing on your ‘Employee A’ as being lazy because they constantly forget to fill in their paperwork, take it upon yourself to make this something positive. Play with your strengths, and help them diminish their weakness. If you love playing the role of leader and love the task of being educator, then this is a perfect opportunity to dig deep and explain why this is important and go over how to do the task once more.

7 Tips to Eliminating Distractions in your Work Day

If you’re the type of business owner that constantly feels as though you’ve accomplished nothing of high-value most days, simply because you’re constantly putting out fires, doing tasks you shouldn’t be doing, or are distracted by 1-million other things in your business, then it’s time you start implementing a few of these tips and tricks in your daily routine!

1. Get an app that literally blocks your online distractions. Apps for Google Chrome internet browser such as “StayFocused” can be set up to block your computer from accessing any tempting site from you for a certain amount of hours. Facebook always on your mind? Block it until lunch hour or even the entire work day. LinkedIn notifications distracting you? Determine what time of day (and for how long) is all right for you to check them!

2. Turn off your cell phone notifications. Especially if you have a personal cellphone on top of a work phone. When you’re working, put your phone on silent or sleep mode for the day. You’ll still receive all your messages but you won’t get a buzz or ding sound until you turn this option off.

3. Shut off notifications from emails and social media from your computer. Mac computers give you the option of setting the “Do Not Disturb” on for a certain amount of time in which you won’t get pop-ups distracting you from your work.

4. Do ONE thing at a time. You heard me. ONE. Block off time using your Google calendar in 30–60 minute long intervals. You can write comments and lay out full plans for each task right on the web. If you want, this app can give you a reminder, say 30-minutes, prior to your next task. Never miss a call or appointment again! Share your calendar with others so they can see when you’re free and when you’re busy. Also colour coordinate your tasks. Ex: make red very important, green a quick, easy task, and yellow something intermediate or something you do as a part of a team.

5. Every hour get up a stretch. Walk around your office, or at the very least, look away from your computer screen for 5 minutes. Trust me, this is where the migraines come in if you aren’t careful! Take time to stay hydrated, drink water, and eat something. Work is priority, but you and your body and mind should be too. You’ll be 10x more eager to work throughout the day just by taking little breaks for yourself every once and awhile!

6. Use sticky notes! These are great for when a random idea pops into your head that you don’t want to forget but shouldn’t focus on right away. Stick them right to your monitor and on your next break, re-read it and put it into your schedule for the day or week if possible.

7. Learn to say no. Dedicated to getting a big task done by the end of the work day? Do you have it put into your Google calendar for the next, say, 2 hours and have provided your team with a spare block hour sometime else in your day? If they come to you during your 2 hours of working on that big task, say no. Unless, of course, it’s an emergency. Tell them to come back during your free hour!

Stay focused, friends! All these tips will result in small, but positive changes, but they’ll take you such a long way as business owner! A more productive day is just around the corner.

For more tips and advice and to learn how we can help your business advance, click here to get more information!

We also have an amazing online workshop coming up that’s going to teach contractors like yourself how to create systems your team can run without you— which, obviously, will help you with your day-to-day productivity! Click here for more information and to register! (Spots are limited!)

Why Your Bad Clients Don’t Deserve You and How to Kick Them Out the Door

Think back (maybe way, way back for some of you) to when you were in school. Remember report card day? Did you mostly get A’s and B’s, or did you get a mix of A’s, B’s, C’s and D’s? What was your parents’ reaction? Most likely your parents would give you a high-five for the good grades, and have a serious discussion about the bad grades and how to help you improve them.

Back in school we would have our parents and teachers create a plan that would help increase our grades. Let’s drop the classes we aren’t doing so well in and join some we know we can excel in. I propose we apply the same plan to your electrical business and drop the grade C and D clients to make room more for A’s and B’s. It’s time to better our grades— our business!

Would you hold up your list of current clients and be proud to show a list of A’s and B’s or would you find a large number of C and D clients? Now that Spring is here, and things are about to get very busy for us, it’s time to put this plan in action.

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“Kick your Grade D clients to the curb because they don’t deserve you.”  Tweet This

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Here are the different grades of clients:

A (Awesome) grade clients pay their bills on time, are pleasant to deal with, are happy to pay you what you quoted and sometimes more, are repeat clients, provide amazing referrals, and are great communicators; giving you all the details to do your job right the first time.

B (Basic) grade clients pay their bills eventually but sometimes need to be chased, they are sensitive to your pricing and are only somewhat loyal; long-term relationships are not at the top of their priority list, but at least doing jobs for them tend to run pretty smoothly.

C (Can’t deal with) grade clients tend to have an undiagnosed case of schizophrenia as they’re constantly changing their minds and not expecting to have to pay for it. Even if you sold the job below your cost and they knew it, they’d still want a better price! They generally don’t pay on time and when they do it’s less than what you invoiced them for.

D (Dead) grade clients are like leeches; draining the blood out of our business right in front of you and your team. They treat your crew like dirt, which sometimes results in top employees quitting. They are never satisfied and you’re lucky if you ever get paid because they see you as a bank, not an Electrical Contractor.

Don’t feel discouraged if you were reading through these descriptions and actual clients were popping into your head. It’s a good sign that you’re ready to start saying goodbye to your grade D clients.

I’ve created a really effective tool that can accelerate grading your clients.

Grading your clients will make you realize how much time you’ve been wasting on C’s and D’s. Some clients that you thought were A’s and B’s are actually C’s and D’s typically because of a lack of profit and poor timing when it comes to paying bills. Once you kick the grade C’s and D’s to the curb, you’ll allow your company more opportunity for higher profits and cash flow, save hundreds of hours from dealing with unhappy clients that can never be pleased, and promote a better company atmosphere because employees will be a lot more proud of their ‘grades.’ Utilizing this tool will get you really clear on what types of clients you need to start marketing to.

How to kick them to the curb: 

  1. Pick the top few D’s and send them a letter informing them that you’re no longer going to be working with them. Phone them to make sure they received it.
  2. Let the team know who’s been informed and tell them the new rules of the game (putting the list of clients up on a white board will help everyone know who not to deal with any longer.)
  3. Create a script so admin and anyone answering the phones know how to keep the door shut on them.
  4. Let the team know whom the A’s and B’s are and how they need to be treated differently.
  5. Create a marketing plan as if you were going fishing; to determine where the A’s are, create the right lures with strategies on how to get more of them.
  6. Create strategies to improve the B’s to A’s.

Getting rid of the C’s and D’s will allow you to give so much more attention to the grade A’s. It allows you to actually work less for more profits. Treat your grade A’s like gold, and they’ll give you repeated business time and time again— soon you won’t ever have to deal with another grade D client again, simply because you won’t have to!

If you have any questions concerning this topic, feel free to contact Profit for Contractors at 613-604-4531 or support@profitforcontractors.com