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.

————————————————————————————————-

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

————————————————————————————————-

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

Why Defining a Workplace Culture is so Important

“Why should I have written rules and practices in my business? Shouldn’t every employee know not to smoke on the job site, be 5 minutes early to every shift, and know not to wear stained jeans and a ripped t-shirt when meeting with a customer?”

Sadly, no, that’s not always the case. Especially in the trades industry— let’s be real here.

Written rules and unspoken practices must be set in place within your business. You need to set order and structure within your walls so that every team member is on the same page and working well with one another.

As business owner, you have to determine the ‘personality’ of your business. Establish the values, beliefs, and habits you want your team to follow and be on board with. Every business owner will have a slightly different work culture— formed from their own interests, experience on the tools, and things they find important.

The two main reasons you want an established work culture are:

  1. Because everything you and your team does determines how you come across to customers!
  2. Because when everyone is following the same rules and practices, people work better together!

From day one, each new employee needs to be shown the work culture and told how things are run, so that everyone is operating on the same level. It’s important that you hire people that’ll be a good cultural fit with your company.

It’s a lot harder to start changing and implementing work culture 20 years in, but it can be done. Unfortunately some team members just might not make the cut— it’s a sacrifice you may have to make in order to maintain a strong team and professional image.

Some common examples of work culture rules could include:

  • Shaking hands when greeting people, and not interrupting others when they’re speaking
  • Being professional on all communication fronts: in-person, in emails, in written letters, etc.
  • Being punctual, dependable, and respectful
  • Being well-groomed and following the dress code
  • Not swearing or smoking on job sites
  • Following company procedures

One thing to keep in mind is that a positive work culture will always give the best results. As business owner, you too have to follow these rules and treat everyone with respect and realize that everyone is important to your business and has the potential to grow.

A work culture won’t be maintained if it’s unrealistic and you don’t follow the practices yourself, because team members will pick up on that quickly and soon go about their day in their own way—causing chaos, a lack of structure, and an unprofessional image.

If you need help defining your work culture, or have questions based on this subject, don’t hesitate to book in a quick chat with us by clicking here.

1st Live Workshop of the Year a Success!

Over 40 contractors and their team members from around Ontario and Quebec stepped away from their job sites, projects, and offices yesterday, Tuesday, March 22nd, to take part in our Marketing & Sales Live Workshop. After 2 months of planning and preparing for the event, I taught the crowd how to better their contracting business through proven strategies, tools, and templates.

My brother, Robert Houston of Rep Tradie, was our guest speaker, and explained to everyone the importance of reputation marketing, the rise in technology and its power, and the effect it could have on your contracting business— both good and bad, and how to deal with it and use it to your advantage.

Members of Boone Plumbing and Heating Inc. were in attendance and had a major role in promoting the Live Workshop. Jiffy Print and Photo provided all Sales Kit examples that included door hangers, lawn signs, posters, and postcard examples that were used during our presentation. A huge thank you goes out to these two amazing companies!

With a room full of different tradespeople, the day was full of networking, learning how to improve a business, and laughs— it was certainly a memorable day for me, and we can’t wait to provide you more great strategies and lessons in our next event, the ‘Chaos to Control’ online workshop happening April 19th 9-10:30am.

The Boone Academy

The Boone Academy

We are pleased to announce a new line of training available to our clients this year. We have paired up with local company Boone Plumbing and Heating Ltd. to provide you in-depth training on how to enhance your contracting company.

Together, we have one goal: to help as many tradesmen better their business as possible. To help them earn more time back for their families, to make more money, and to make it easier for them to run their business versus it running them.

Starting January 2016, each quarter, for two consecutive months there will be one online workshop a month, and the third month will be a live workshop held at the Nepean Sportsplex. This process repeats each quarter.

Topics will be specific to our 3 core pillars— applicable to any contracting business: Time and Team, Profit and Cashflow, and Sales and Marketing. You’ll notice these topics will be in sync with our seasons and the reason behind teaching topics at specific times of year is so that they can be as beneficial to you as possible— something you can take and apply to your business right away.

Look out for our invites either online or in-store through the Boone Academy.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. Otherwise, look out for upcoming events on our Home Page.

Why Marketing?

“Why Marketing?”

If you’re currently in a slow slump; not getting enough leads resulting in no new customers, then listen up.

Small business owners, particularly contractors like yourself, wear many hats— working multiple positions and running many tasks simultaneously, which can be the main reason as to why you don’t have a marketing plan carved out already.

Many of you have put in the time, energy, and money into marketing but saw no difference in cash flow.

Small business owners state the following as their biggest hurdle for getting results from their marketing efforts:

  • The economy is slow
  • Lack a marketing budget
  • Lack knowledge of marketing
  • Don’t have the time
  • Are confused by the (sometimes) conflicting information out there

These are valid reasons as to why you don’t have a great marketing plan, but it doesn’t mean that’s the end all be all. It doesn’t have to be hard. You can create a marketing plan that attracts clients even in the toughest of times.

The secret to making marketing easy is to:

  • Immerse yourself in your customers world— try to put yourself in their shoes so you get the message across most effectively.
  • Uncover your customers pains, struggles, worries and concerns to leverage your unique ways to assisting these people.
  • Find out where your potential customers hang out (on and offline) so that you can find the right channels to get your message across. (Grocery store bulletins, Sports centre entrance ways, on Facebook, on Linked In, at home looking at flyers and newspapers, etc.)
  • Learn to test and measure so that you know where to apply your marketing budget. (Everything is trial and error at first, and that’s okay!)

Take the time to discover your ideal market— learn the systems and methods that will get you more clients, higher profits, and time for life outside your business. Knowing your marketing problems and seeking out solutions is the first step to achieving success!

If you need help with your marketing and getting more leads, then click here have a chat with us.

Top 5 Areas to Master as the Business Leader

Join Profit For Contractors June 27, 2017, at 11:00am EST for a FREE Leadership & Communication Webinar! Click HERE to register.

In order to master your business, you need to master a few things as leader and business owner. Keep in mind, being adaptable and open to change is key for any business owner in order to see positive change and growth.

Here are the 5 areas to focus on in order to better yourself and your business this year:

1. Master your Teams 

A happy team is a productive team. Ensure everyone understands the common goal of your business. Tell them the values you hold, and the environment you wish everyone to work in. Ensure there’s open communication and that you take the time to reward your employees for their great work.

2. Master your Money 

The strategies you have in dealing with money will either make or break profitability, thus affecting how long you will be in business. Have plans for budgets and auditing account receivables so that you can avoid any problems with your cash flow. You should constantly be adapting to pricing increase.  

3. Master your Marketing 

In order to offer value beyond just price, you should be focusing on the customer themselves. Know their values and trigger points— what’s truly important to them and why. Master how to increase conversion rate, the number of transactions and the margins of each sale so that you can maximize profits. Never forget up-selling and cross-selling.

4. Master Technology

Technology doesn’t have to be complicated— embrace it as it’s the way of the future. When used correctly, it can help you stay organized and better on top of tasks as well as make them easier. Find tools that have a positive affect on your profits such as tools to systemize account receivables.

5. Master Self-Growth

As a business owner, you want to invest in learning so that you can stop constantly making the same mistakes. You don’t necessarily have to seek formal education, but you should want to seek answers to your biggest business problems.

Passion alone will not lead to profits, but knowledge will get you to a path of better understanding your business because you’ll be focusing on the important questions and tasks, resulting in better decisions and actions. When you are a business owner, think like a leader, not as an employee.

Change won’t happen overnight— it’s going to take some planning, searching, teaching, and learning. But nothing will change for the better if you never start.

Join Profit For Contractors June 27, 2017, at 11:00am EST for a FREE Leadership & Communication Webinar! Click HERE to register.

5 Apps to Maintain Control and Save you Time

It’s the day and age of technology, so why not use it to your advantage? Sure, learning how to use a new app or computer program may sound daunting, but it’s very much worth the efforts. The reason these apps were created for your industry is to SAVE you TIME, and to help you MAINTAIN CONTROL.

Here’s 5 amazing apps currently on the market that can truly change the way you run your business:

1) Jobber App

You’re already busy enough with managing your projects and team. When you add administrative work to the mix, you’re working overtime, correct? Save time in your day with Jobber. https://getjobber.com/industries/general-contracting/

  • Batch Invoicing
  • QuickBooks or Xero Syncing
  • Scheduling
  • Route Optimization
  • Drag-and-Drop Calendar
  • Financial Reporting
  • Invoice Templates
  • Expense/Payment Tracking

2) ExakTime App

Does your service crew get to the office to fill out their paperwork after 6-8 hours running calls? Are their often mistakes and unhappy customers because they make mistakes on monitoring their time? Not any more with ExakTime. http://www.exaktime.com/solutions/time-clocks/exaktime-mobile/

  • Crew & Cost Code Tracking
  • Field Notes
  • GPS
  • ID Confirmation of crew members
  • Team View Map

3) JoistApp App

Constantly working over time in order to get paperwork done? With Joist, you can tackle everything from the job site or in the truck in order to get it done right away. This allows for less mistakes and things to be forgotten. https://www.joistapp.com/

  • Estimates
  • Invoices
  • Management

4) FieldLens App

Do you struggle to communicate with your team while they’re out on job sites? FieldLens App allows you to control your team and projects from a distance— so that you can focus on your own important tasks. http://fieldlens.com/

  • Reporting
  • QA/QC
  • Punch List
  • Safety
  • Manpower
  • Realtime Project Communication
  • Audit Trail
  • Progress Photos and Videos
  • Integrations

5) Tradies App

Are you struggling with creating your own forms, templates, and paperwork? Fear no more. Tradies is a mobile tool that provides you with quick solutions to all the paperwork forms you may need in your day. They also provide tons of support through how-to videos on their website. http://www.contractorsapps.com/our-apps/tradies

  • Site Diary
  • Change Orders/Variations
  • Quotes
  • Invoicing
  • Toolbox Talk
  • Meeting Minutes
  • Request for Information
  • Sub-Contractor Agreements
  • Tender Request
  • Estimate
  • Backcharge Notive
  • Purchase Order
  • Site Instructions
  • Extension of Time.

Stop drowning yourself in paperwork, and start saving time by investing into an app built for your industry! These apps provide automation in your business operations that will help you to systemize and get back control. Find an app that suits you and your business best so that you can start getting time back to spend with your family and work on bettering your business.

4 Tips for How Contractors Can Best Communicate Price Increases to Their Customers

Unfortunately, not everything is within your control. You know that if your suppliers raise their prices, product price goes up, and what you charge your customers will have to too in order to maintain profits, or worse, take from your own pockets.

You’ll probably want to offer up dozens of discounts in other areas in order to maintain clients, but bending over backwards like this can be just as damaging to you and your business than outright telling your customers, like a cold slap in the face, that there’s going to be a price increase.

There’s got to be a good middle ground!

Here are 4 tips that will help you make the transition:

1) Know the ‘secret psychology’ of your customers. What is important to your customers beyond just price? It could be family safety, cleanliness, timeliness, amazing craftsmanship, professionalism, etc. When you go to your customers, keep in mind the key elements that make you and your company unique and better than the competition, in order to keep your customers.

2) Provide them the information ahead of time. Whether it’s online through blogs or social media, through personal email, or in-person, write about the fluctuations in the economy, talk about suppliers costs going up, and discuss seasonal changes and their effects on a contracting businesses— explain the what, who, when, how, and why. If you’re able to have an informal conversation relevant to price increases ahead of time, it lessens the blow for when it comes time to tell your customers prices are going up.

3) Practice having this conversation in a team meeting. Grab not only your sales and marketing team, but everyone you can! The more people that practice and know what they’re talking about, the better. Enough practice leads to a conversation that truly sounds authentic (because even if it really is, it can sometimes come off as an act to your customers; they’re smart and know what sounds valuable.)

4) Don’t get intimidated. There will always be customer’s that push back and argue over everything. Does that mean you should offer up dozens of discounts in other areas to please them? Not necessarily. Does that mean you should cave and maintain price just for them? No. Does it mean you should offer up a lower quality service or product in order to keep them? Not recommended. The thing is, you most likely will lose a few customers— these are customers we classify as ‘D’s as they only care about winning best price. In a professional, polite way, you must explain in detail why prices are increasing and how it’s important, as well as why they should stick with you (reflecting back on the ‘secret psychology’ and your practice conversations.)

When it comes down to it, telling customers your prices are increasing is never easy. Showing value to your customers in other areas, is. Rating clients accordingly will allow you to determine which clients can be offered specific discounts or deals, and which will be content with a polite explanation of the situation. If you’re curious about the ‘secret psychology’ of customers or how to rate your customers from class A-D and what that means, we have specific tools to help. Click here for a chat with Andrew to find out more.

All the best, Profit for Contractors.