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Closing the Deal or Opening the Relationship?

Sometimes sales “experts” talk about closing skills as “going for the kill” or “not taking no for an answer” or they have 87 different closing techniques like the “Puppy Dog” (let them take it home and they’ll fall in love with it) the “Ben Franklin” (show the advantages against other options on a sheet of paper) and on and on.

Here’s the problem. If you are in a business that relies on repeat business and on-going relationships, your prospects see through these closing techniques instantly and their resistance to doing business with you goes up, not down.

There are some exceptions; time share sales come to mind, but for most of us, we need a legitimate and credible way to not just close a sale but also open a relationship.

The way forward starts with marketing. Do you understand the “pains” that your prospect verticals have? How does your company solve those pains? How different is your approach to those solutions from your competition? What programs have you developed to specifically focus on prospect pains?

If you start with finding pain, ask the right questions to uncover your prospect’s compelling reason(s) to buy and follow a consultative sales process there is no need for hard closing or fancy techniques. The sale should close itself.

This is not to say that there aren’t details to work out and obstacles to sometimes overcome. The point is that if the prospect sees their pain clearly and sees your solution as way that makes sense to address that pain, then you are at the point that you want to be, which is that you have determined that there is a mutually beneficial reason to do business.

All that’s left is to work out the details and open the relationship!

Tim Miller

Creating Long-Term Success in Your Business While Creating Employee Satisfaction

Building a performance culture system in your business will help you develop the right habits to grow your business to new levels of success. This may mean changing the habits that were initially required by you to make your company successful in your initial owner-reliant model, and it may mean some hard choices; however, the reward is worth the effort.

Developing a performance culture that produces long-term benefit takes discipline and commitment- the essential components required to create good habits. Before you start to implement a high-performance culture in your company, it is important to recognize the bad habits your company may have as well as understand how you can develop good habits.

Here are some examples of bad habits:

  • Micro-management/lack of delegation- business owner and key managers that are overly involved in too many aspects of the business because they are worried about failure.
  • Constant fire drills- company leaders are too focused on solving immediate challenges versus strategic planning and continuous process improvement.
  • Immediate gratification- business owner and employees are focused on immediate personal benefit versus mid-term to long-term strategic results, i.e., “employees- what is in it for me today” or business owners who spend all the profits versus investing in future growth.
  • Directing versus motivating- leading by force versus developing employees to be their best.
  • Silo mentality/mavericks- focusing on individual effort versus the team’s over-all performance; lack of trust inside the company, office politics, etc.
  • Lack of accountability- allowing employees to get away with bad performance.
  • Hiring too quickly and firing too slowly- putting off hiring until it is absolutely needed and ending up with a subpar employee or not firing soon enough and being stuck with an undesirable employee or behavior.
  • Lack of communication- business owner and/or company managers who view meetings as a waste of time and fail to communicate strategic initiatives to the employees.
  • Opportunism- chasing the newest “shiny object or strategy of the month” versus focusing on what company does best.

If you can recognize one or more of these negative behaviors or have noticed unhealthy habits inside your company, you are not alone. Developing a high-performing culture will help you change these behaviors and develop positive habits that will increase profit margin and lead to long-term sustainability and employee engagement and satisfaction.

In the book, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business,” author Charles Duhigg explains how business leaders achieve success by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of their lives.  He explains that “a habit is an activity that a person deliberately decides to perform once and continues doing without focus, often frequently.”  This is a great read, as well as a good resource to help you implement a high-performance culture in your business.

There are four elements of a high-performance culture to position your company for success:

  1. Effective leadership- the cornerstone for transforming your company culture into a performance culture.
  2. Niche strategy- the foundation for building or increasing your competitive edge and includes your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)- your way of standing out from the competition.
  3. People management- simplifies the complexity of managing a growing business and helps you develop a performance culture.
  4. Process excellence- creates a system and scorecard that enables your company to grow profitably.

Implementing these four elements is a process itself and requires discipline and commitment from you and your key managers. After implementing this process, you will see significant positive change within your company.

How to develop a high-performance culture in your business:

  • Personal vision- define your personal vision and tie it to the company vison.
  • Leadership assessment- evaluate your leadership style and create an action plan to leverage your strengths.
  • Niche strategy- evaluate your unique value proposition and improve your competitive edge.
  • People management- determine the key positions in your company, select the right employees to fill these positions, establish focus, prioritize action plans, and create accountability.
  • Process excellence- define your value chain, achieve process excellence, and measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

A written plan with weekly updates will encourage good habits to flourish. Research has shown that people do better when they write down their plan and document the activities in a journal. The same is true when developing a high-performance company culture. Writing down your plans creates clarity and forces you to think through action.

Having a focus on performance will help you as the business owner to develop strong leaders, high-performing employees, and a great company culture. It will create habits that drive profitability and increase your company value.

What to Do Now:

If you are ready to streamline your restoration business by implementing a high-performing organizational structure, consider Business Development Associates as a resource to help you with this process. We have more than 3 decades of industry experience and have helped many of our clients build high-performing companies.

At Business Development Associates, we believe that every restoration business owner has the right to expect that their company can deliver to them what they want out of life- freedom and the ability to create wealth.

Make it a prosperous month!  Stay tuned for next month’s article.

John Capponi, CR

Operations and Management Consultant

Business Development Associates, Inc.

Cell: 407-745-7698

The Will to Win: A Closer Look

The legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson said that he didn’t really understand the will to win until he saw Michael Jordan win the “flu-game” on the way to the Bull’s fifth NBA championship in 1997.

I have also seen the will to win play out with the salespeople that I have trained over the years. When we hire salespeople, we use a highly predictive assessment to help us understand if they have the right combination of strengths, weaknesses and other characteristics to make it within our industry and selling system.

As you might imagine, there is a range of acceptable assessment scores and deciding on hiring the right salesperson depends on a certain intuition on the part of the recruiter who is evaluating the three interviews we conduct, looking carefully at the resume, appraising the reference checks and so on. There’s a certain art as well as a science to this!

Now, even after all that careful vetting the one factor that trumps everything is the will to win. This is usually demonstrated by new sales reps that fully buy-in to their training. They don’t waste a second questioning the methodology, wondering if this will work, if the trainer knows what they are talking about and so on. They trust the process and therefore free up all of their attention and energy focusing on learning what they need to learn. They are usually champing at the bit to get out into the field to start using what they have learned.

I recently started training two salespeople for a new client. One had great assessment scores, the other more average. One tore through his training with total commitment and focus and the other struggled. One set four At the Desk Meetings in his first week of prospecting and one quit before the training was completed.

Which one is taking off like an F-16? The one with the average assessment scores but an amazing will to win. In fact, he showed me something more important than the will to win which is best exemplified by a quote by the famous college football coach “Bear” Bryant who said, “It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”

This rep, who is off to an amazing start, has the will to win and perhaps more importantly, the will to prepare to win!

Creating Your Organizational Chart for Business Growth

Creating Your Organizational Chart for Business Growth and Prosperity

Many restoration business owners start with a small number of employees that function informally to perform the company’s work. This informal structure usually works until change occurs, such as adding new employees, changes in responsibilities, or growth of the business. The owner often discovers the importance of organizational structure when uncertainty arises regarding roles, responsibilities, and supervision of their employees.

The Organizational Chart, often referred to as Org Chart, is a graphic representation of the company’s flow of command. It shows at a glance how each division or department of the company works together to make the business profitable, and demonstrates where the employees of each department or division fit within the internal personnel structure.

An Org Chat and supporting documents are necessary from the very beginning of a company’s existence not just when it gets too big for one person to manage. Developing a Org Chart is the first step to creating a larger strategy for your business. By determining the roles and responsibilities that you need, you will map out a clear structure for you and your team. No matter how you imagine the future of your business, an Org Chart will help you properly prepare your company for the future, and you can use it as a reference for the next steps that you need to take in terms of hiring and growth.

Benefits of an Org Chart

Fundamentally, an Org Chart has many benefits and the following are just a few:

  • provides a foundation to build and design your organizational structure to meet the business’ objectives
  • clarifies employee roles, responsibilities, and direct report
  • separates the functions of a company or department
  • indicates the reporting relationships between management and workers
  • provides clarity to improve employee performance
  • allows the business owner to delegate management responsibility.

A Common Pitfall- The People-Based Org Chart

Many business owners have jotted down an Org Chart at some point. Often, however, these are “people based” org charts, populated with boxes that say, “Sally,” “Joe,” and “Chris.” The problem with this type of chart is that accountabilities are often unclear, positions are vague, and the people holding the positions find themselves building their roles around their strengths and weaknesses instead of around the needs of the company.

Remember, as you work through developing your Org Chart, it is imperative that you organize your employees based on specific business activities, i.e., sales, marketing, operations, administration, and finance rather than individual talent.

With a “position based” Org Chart, you outline positions to produce the results your company needs to grow and prosper. In fact, a strategic business owner can use the Org Chart to design the company as it would ideally look in the future, determining which roles and skills the company will need to meet future revenue and profitability targets. Your Org Chart is your primary management tool to manage the growth of your company.

First, to get started in designing your “ideal company,” imagine what you would like your company to look like in two years. I call this a Mini-Plan. Consider these questions:

  1. What will your revenue be in two years?
  2. What will your gross profit be?
  3. What will be your overhead expenses?
  4. What will your net profit be?
  5. What service lines will your company deliver, i.e., mitigation, repairs/reconstruction, mold remediation, and contents cleaning, etc.

Second, consider what organizational structure could produce these results. Begin to build an Org Chart that depicts the key roles and responsibilities that will fulfill the goals of your business. Review my previous articles regarding organizational structure.

Seven Steps to Complete Your Org Chart

  1. Free yourself from your current organizational chart.
    • If you already have one start with a fresh one. You need to feel free and unencumbered as you begin to create something new.
  2. Begin with a title and the President’s box.
    • Take a blank sheet of paper and at the top write: The Organizational Chart of (your company name).
    • The first box will be President or Owner.
  3. Draw a box for each of the major departments. Typically, an Org Chart has at least three main departments, so create a separate box for each:
    • Sales and Marketing
    • Operations
    • Administration/Finance
  4. Create each managerial and nonmanagerial function.
    • Draw boxes that represent functions and work grouping to accomplish each result.
    • Create a box for the Manager of that function, e.g., Production Manager.
    • Identify the positions that do the tactical work of each function, e.g., EMS Tech, General Repair Specialists, etc.
    • Draw vertical lines to represent those positions.
  5. Create position titles for each function. Each company has a different structure so here are some examples of management positions:
    • Marketing Manager
    • Restoration/Mitigation Manager
    • Reconstruction Manager
    • Office Manager
  6. Review and revise the Org Chart.
    • Implement the Org Chart and then evaluate the process to determine if it is producing the results you want. Revise if necessary.
  7. Check listed business activities.
    • Make sure all the activities your company does are listed somewhere on your Org Chart.

If you take the time to define the structure of your future company, you will have in your hands a strong outline for building a successful company. Likely, it will help you to view your company from a new perspective, causing you to make key personnel changes now rather than wondering “what went wrong” down the road.

Taking Action Now:

Send me an email to request your FREE example of an Org Chart for a restoration company. You will be glad you did!

If you are ready to streamline your restoration business by implementing a high performing organizational structure, consider Business Development Associates as a resource to help you with this process. We have more than 3 decades of industry experience and have helped many of our clients build high performing companies.

At Business Development Associates, we believe that every restoration business owner has the right to expect that their company can deliver to them what they want out of life- freedom and the ability to create wealth.

Make it a prosperous month!  Stay tuned for next month’s article.

John Capponi, CR

Operations and Management Consultant

Business Development Associates, Inc.

Cell: 407-745-7698

Ah, Grasshopper, Do Not Overlook the Sales “Fu”!

As I work with salespeople I notice that there are three related aspects to sales performance that are worth considering for those looking to improve sales performance. That’s because the salesperson that can mix these elements (much like a medieval alchemist) can create real magic and results.

The first element is what I call, “We exist!” In other words, we are a company actively in business providing the service that your prospect needs sometimes. Like the blind pig that finds a truffle once in a while, salespeople representing these companies can find business in much the same way—by luck. Usually, the prospect’s current vendor has dropped the ball and since the salesperson happens to be in the right place at the right time they get an opportunity.

Salespeople that go into the market with the “We exist!” strategy have a tough row to hoe and not much sales “game”. This is the domain of the “show up and throw up” “me monsters” that simply hit the market attempting to trade donuts for dollars. This is by far the weakest sales position.

The next aspect is the value proposition. Simply put, having a valid and relevant value proposition puts your company in a class many steps above the “We existers”. It gives the salesperson a reason for the prospect to listen further and explains why the company is different and better than the competition and provides reasons for the prospect to switch!

Simply put, modern sales organizations must have a powerful and well-thought out value proposition and train their salespeople how to effectively communicate it.

The third aspect of sales performance is the salesperson’s “fu”, as in Kung-fu. Kung-fu usually translates as skill developed over time with hard work. Another way to think about this (depending on your generation) is mojo, moxie, chutzpah or the unique personality, persuasiveness and communication skills that the salesperson uses to “own” the value proposition. It is style but style with commitment and intelligence.

What’s great about “fu” is that each salesperson’s fu (if they have it!) is unique to them. It reflects their personality, their style, their life experiences, their approach to life and work and really, their essence.

When the “fu” is strong, salespeople can make the “We exist!” strategy work because they themselves and their “fu” is what differentiates the company. Unfortunately, if they leave, so do their customers. And, “We exist!” organizations often have an over-inflated idea of their own value in the market and fail to appreciate the power of strong sales “fu” to support their weak value proposition. These companies often mistreat their salespeople who move on to greener pastures.

Where “fu” really makes an impact is in combination with a powerful value proposition. Now you have compelling reasons for the prospect to do business with you and a great salesperson to communicate the value proposition, develop the on-going relationships and drive the sales program forward.

Should Your Company Use Job Descriptions?

Why Your Company Should Use Job Descriptions:

The current state of the restoration industry is continually changing with governmental regulations, insurance company overreach, the increasing presence of TPAs and franchises, and the lack of qualified employees to meet the growing demands, to mention a few. The high-performance of your employees is more critical now than ever.

During my time working with restoration contractors, I’ve been asked all the time “should I have job descriptions?  How do I develop them?” My answer is always the same, so to make this a short blog article the answer is Yes!

If you want to grow your business profitably, you should use lean and practical job descriptions that accurately reflect essential job duties, roles, responsibilities, performance results, and compensation required to perform successfully in each position. They will help you build a company that is not owner-reliant and continually requires your day-to-day involvement. It will allow you to build wealth and achieve the goals of ownership that you envisioned when you started your business. This will be one of the most critical business decisions you will make!

Many restoration companies are on a treadmill and the owner and employees are running as fast as they can to meet increasing demand for their services. I find that many are in the “Ready – Fire – Aim” mode while continuing to deal with the day-to-day chaos. Their hiring process becomes “just hire the warm body and get the work done, and they will learn on-the-job or we can train them when it slows down.”

What is a Job Description?

Simply stated, a job description is a useful, plain-language tool that describes the tasks, duties, functions, responsibilities, and compensation range of each position on the Organizational Chart. It outlines the details of who performs a specific type of work, how that work is to be completed, and the frequency and the purpose of the work as it relates to the company’s mission and goals.

The stresses and responsibilities that come with running a small to medium size restoration and reconstruction business aren’t so “small.” In fact, there are a lot of issues that quickly arise when systems and processes are not properly implemented. It all starts with the expectations you set for your employees from the beginning.

Here are 6 typical problems caused by inaccurate or nonexistent job descriptions:

  1. lack of employee performance measurement,
  2. chance of hiring someone without the necessary skills, experiences, and personal qualities for the job,
  3. greater risks for discrimination lawsuits,
  4. difficult for employees to know what is expected of them,
  5. too many delegated tasks essentially fall under the “other duties as assigned” umbrella,
  6. difficult to know how to train and develop employees.

One of the most important systems in your business is your Organizational Structure, which was discussed in last month’s blog article. It is an important stage in developing accurate job descriptions for all the positions (boxes) on the Organizational Chart. The key is to develop job descriptions around the functions, e.g., Sales, Marketing, Operations, and Administration of the business and not the people in the business. Additional examples include Marketing Representative, Operations Manager, Production Manager, Project Manager, Estimator/Sales, Senior Technician, Customer Care Coordinator, Full Charge Bookkeeper, etc.

There are effective strategies to let employees know what’s expected of them without coming off as a tyrant. It is critical that you understand that without job descriptions, or with poorly written ones, your team simply cannot function at its best.

Here are four benefits of accurate employee job descriptions:

  1. Increased Productivity – employees that have a clear understanding of their daily responsibilities, as well as their short- and long-term goals, work more efficiently.
  2. Better Team Atmosphere – detailed job descriptions prevent the “That’s not MY job” argument among employees.
  3. A Simpler Promotion Process – job descriptions provide the standard and act as an effective measurement tool.
  4. Reduced Turnover - people tend to stay with jobs where they feel there is a future for them, a chance for professional growth.

Taking Action Now:

Send me an email to request your FREE job description for a Project Manager. You will be glad you did!

If you are ready to streamline your restoration business by implementing detailed and accurate job descriptions, consider Business Development Associates as a resource to help you design and develop them. We have more than 3 decades of industry experience and have helped many of our clients build high-performing organizations.

At Business Development Associates, we believe that every restoration business owner has the right to expect that their company can deliver to them what they want out of life- freedom and the ability to create wealth.

Make it a prosperous month!  Stay tuned for next month’s article to learn how to develop an organizational chart.

John Capponi, CR
Operations and Management Consultant
Business Development Associates, Inc.
Cell: 407-745-7698

The Importance of a Good Organizational Structure to Growth and Profitability

One of the most common reasons why some restoration businesses fail is because they are unable to maintain a balance between sales and operations. In other words, they do not generate enough sales (jobs) to support salaries and other fixed costs throughout the company, or sales are too high and operations cannot keep up.

Most restoration businesses are in the former category, i.e., they need to sell more jobs to support the overhead of the company. So often I hear, “All I need are more sales. I solve that problem, and all my problems will be gone.” For those restorers in this category, you would be surprised to hear how devastating it can be to have too many jobs. Without the proper infrastructure in place, too many jobs will create chaos in your company. In fact, too many jobs can almost always break a company faster than too few sales.

So, let’s start off by providing a solution to creating a company organizational structure that has the adequate production capacity to handle the amount of jobs being generated by your marketing and advertising functions.

Organizational Structure Simply Defined:

Organizational structure is the method by which a company communicates, distributes responsibility, and adapts to change. According to the Encyclopedia of Small Business, “An organizational structure defines the scope of acceptable behavior within an organization, its lines of authority and accountability, and to some extent, the organization’s relationship with its external environment.”

To have a business that is sustaining profitable growth, a restorer needs to keep their company’s structure dynamic and effective so that it can respond to the ever-changing environment of the restoration industry. Keeping the structure lean and productive will allow the company to adapt and change so that it can grow and survive.

Problems Caused by a Bad Organizational Structure:

Without a formal organizational structure, employees may find it difficult to know who they officially report to in different situations, and it may become unclear exactly who has the final responsibility for what.

Evidence of a bad organizational structure include:

  • poor communication
  • reduced productivity
  • high employee turnover and hiring problems
  • misalignment between technology and decision-making
  • poor customer service
  • and the inability for the business to grow.

Why Organizational Structure is Important:

A restoration company’s organizational structure is what maintains the hierarchy in the business and provides guidance and clarity on specific employee issues, such as managerial authority. Its purposes are to:

  • facilitate internal communication
  • make business decisions
  • perform required tasks
  • provide exceptional customer service
  • and keep the company running smoothly.

Benefits of an Effective Operational Structure:

A well-designed organization structure promotes success and facilitates company growth and profitability. Designing an organizational structure helps the restorer:

  • identify talent that needs to be added to the company
  • ensure production capability to accomplish the company goals
  • clearly defines reporting relationships
  • provide each employee with a job description and standard of performance
  • create a framework for establishing compensation for each position
  • and provide high-performing employees room for growth.

How to Create an Effective Organizational Structure for Your Company:

Determine what your company’s organizational structure looks like today. Create an organization chart that lists all your current key functions and management positions. Include the order in which they supervise and are supervised by others, and titles and job descriptions. Review this chart and determine whether your employees know their exact duties, who they supervise, and whether they are being used to their maximum potential.

Create a “Dream” Structure:

The easiest way to begin creating the optimal organizational structure for your business is to design one as if you have not opened your doors yet. Doing this allows you to create a management and position structure that best suits the needs of your company’s model, rather than one that best suits the needs of your current staffing levels. Pretend you can structure your organization without regard to any employees you currently have or honoring any commitments you have made to see how your company should be set up, then work from there to tweak the organizational structure based on the realities of what you have in place.

Organize by Key Function:

Look at the various functions your company has and create your organizational structure to ensure each one is properly staffed. Typically, a restoration business has key functions, i.e., marketing/sales, operations, and administration/finance. Even if you are using subcontractors for production, a manager must oversee their performance.

Many small companies give multiple responsibilities to different department or function heads to save money, such as one employee filling the positions of production manager and project manager. Other examples are combining bookkeeping and human resources, marketing and sales, or office administration and information technology.

Create a Chain of Command:

Your organizational structure should clearly designate who each employee directly reports to. This prevents departments from competing and employees from going over the heads of their supervisors or believing they do not have to follow a co-worker’s direction because that co-worker is not a superior.

Communicate Your Structure:

An organizational structure is not a top-secret document and will work best if every employee, down to the lowest worker on the chain of command, knows your company’s structure. Have a meeting to explain the reason you have created the structure, how it will benefit the company, who reports to whom, and any grievance procedures.

My Personal Mission:

Is to serve the owners of small businesses that suffer from sleepless nights, make little to no money, and have people problems. I help them increase year-over-year performance and profits, build high-performing teams, and get some time back for themselves.

At Business Development Associates, we believe that every restoration business owner has the right to expect that their company can deliver to them what they want out of life- freedom and the ability to create wealth.

Make it a prosperous month!  Stay tuned for next month’s article to learn how to develop an organizational chart.

John Capponi, CR

Operations and Management Consultant

Business Development Associates, Inc.

Cell: 407-745-7698

Yes, Stop Stalking Me and Crickets

Over my last three blog posts we’ve been discussing the fact that cold calling is not dead and that, because a single call rarely gets you a meeting (or even an opportunity to speak with a decision maker) you need to conduct a prospecting sequence of 8 activities over a 2 to 3 week period.

This post will discuss the three possible outcomes of your prospecting sequence.

The first one is “yes”. For restorer business development people this is NOT “Yes, you’ll get the next one,” because that is usually a lie designed to get rid of you! What we want is, “Yes, I do have some of the problems that you’ve brought up and I’m willing to discuss that with you a little bit now and then agree to schedule a sit down (At the Desk) meeting.”

The next possibility is, “If you don’t stop calling, texting, emailing, faxing, stopping by I’m going to call the police!” otherwise known as “Stop Stalking Me”. Now, this is pretty rare because few salespeople are so diligent as to have enough contact to stimulate this but it does happen.

If this does happen, it’s good to reflect as to whether or not your approach is too aggressive but most of the time, put them on your “Do Not Call” list and move on with your life.

The most common outcome of your prospecting activities will likely be “Crickets”. If you’ve ever been out in the country, sitting on a porch as the dusk turned into dark, deeply relaxed listening to the rhythmic sound of the crickets then you understand the reference. No matter what you do to try and connect with your prospect, all you hear is crickets. Nice for a relaxing summer evening but tough when you are trying to build a territory!

When you get “Crickets” you have two choices; “throw them back” or “extended prospecting”.

When a prospect gives you “Crickets” that is “just another prospect” it makes sense to code them as someone that you have run your entire prospecting sequence with and simply “throw them back” into your database.

Because you have coded them in your CRM, (you are using an industry specific CRM like Luxor aren’t you?) you can always take another run at them (run another prospecting sequence on them) a few months later. Who knows, maybe the fact that you made your first attempt will soften them up for your second campaign.

When the prospect that gives you crickets is a big potential client, a large and complex organization to penetrate, someone that has a lot of losses, someone high profile in the industry or even someone that fills out a route for you, then you may want to choose extended prospecting.

Extended prospecting simply means that you keep prospecting even after your initial 8 attempts are done. This is typically done at a less aggressive frequency so you don’t aggravate the prospect but you decide on an extended prospecting sequence (calls, emails, F2F stops, etc.) and frequency and simply keep going. A couple of attempts a month is probably a reasonable starting point.

Let me leave you with some prospecting food for thought:

In 2007 it took an average of 3.68 cold call attempts to reach a prospect. Today it takes 8 attempts. Most salespeople give up after two tries!

Sad in a way but think of how much opportunity that leaves out there for the pros!

My Customer is Causing Job Delays

You know the type of job I am going to describe in this article and I am sure you can recite the customer’s name, the date, and the location. During your time as a restoration contractor you no doubt have dealt with this type of customer numerous times.

So, who is this customer I am speaking about? Well, they are the customers who want to do “some” of the work themselves. There are many reasons for this situation, e.g., they want to put money in their own pocket to cover the deductible, they think they are a contractor, or they just like doing some of the work for themselves. No matter what the reason, this decision by the customer- if allowed by the contractor- will cause job delays, confusion, and profit slippage to mention a few.

The best option is for the Sales/Estimator or Project Manager to position the customer experience for success from the beginning of the job. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Explain to the customer that your company works to the industry Standard of Care to protect the health and safety of their family and their property’s value. In order to ensure that the work is done to that Standard, tell them that your company must perform all of the work.
  2. Help them understand that the production scheduling process is complex and requires that the Project Manager has complete control of all aspects of the job to meet the schedule and customer expectations—especially getting them back to normal as fast as possible.
  3. Emphasize that most “problem” jobs are the ones where the customer is self-performing work and that prevents the production process from going smoothly. As a result, the company is not able to complete the job as fast as possible and will not be unable to provide a warranty where they have not performed all aspects of the job.
  4. Should you accept the job where the customer is self-performing work tell them that they must perform the work after your work is completely done.
  5. When adjusting the invoice and the contract do not remove the entire line item. The best option is to insert a note that explains what has been agreed upon regarding the self-performed work and provide a credit that will be allowed for the work and/or material. Make sure you have recovered the total requirement for your overhead and profit, not to be confused by 10% and 10%, which we all know is not an accurate reflection of what it costs you to run your business and make a reasonable profit.

Use your judgment! If the job is from a large referral source or high-profile customer or if the other aspects of the job are highly profitable, then make an executive business decision.

When clients use the BDA marketing programs we often suggest that that the restoration contractor not turn the job down when it becomes less profitable and instead consider that a marketing expense.

If you decide to work with them you need to make sure you have written a contract that specifies the work they are going to do and the dates that they must have their portion of the work completed. Should their work not be done by the stated completion date, you will be required to bring in your specialty contractor or employees to do the work. Based on this action the allowance for the self-performed work will not be allowed.

Help them understand that you cannot accept any excuses: their work must get done on time or you will step in and get it done to keep the job on schedule.

Remember, the reason they are doing the work themselves, or bringing in a friend to do it for them, is to save money. It is fine to save money, but do not let their savings cost you time, money, and frustration. That’s not how it works.

The recommendations above also apply to any materials the customer may want to supply for the job. They might want to supply their own materials to save money, but it can cause problems if it is not handled correctly.

Make sure you give them a time schedule for when the materials will be on the job site. This means concise language in your contract that specifically states that the materials will be on-site and ready for installation at least three working days prior to when you need them. You also must state that if the materials are wrong, broken, or unusable for whatever reason, and you must make a trip to the supply house to return them or get the appropriate materials to keep the job on schedule, the customer will pay for the material, your travel time and your mileage, plus your markup on those costs. Make it clear that you will not wait until they have time to replace those materials. You could sit and wait for days. The materials must be on the job site and ready to go, or you’ll get them yourself and the customer will pay all costs plus markup.

I hear these issues often. If you don’t want to lose time and money on a job make sure your Sales/Estimator and Project Manager sets clear boundaries and defines the parameters in your contract.

What are you going to do now? How about emailing me to request a FREE one-hour Business Strategy Session. You will be glad you did.

My mission is to serve the owners and executives of small businesses that suffer from sleepless nights, make little to no money, and have people problems. I help them increase year-over-year performance and profits, build high-performing teams, and get some time back for themselves.

At BDA, we believe that every restoration business owner has the right to expect that their business can deliver to them what they want out of life, freedom and create wealth.

Make it a prosperous month!  See you on the next blog.

John Capponi, CR

Operations and Management Consultant

Business Development Associates, Inc.

Cell: 407-745-7698

Let’s Be Honest – Are You Really Leading Your Company?

This may be a question you have not considered; however, it may be one of the most critical questions you need to answer to profitably grow your business and lead your team to high performance and greatness.

A rewarding learning exercise would be for you to pause from your busy day and take a few minutes to ponder this question. First, we need to establish a point-of-reference of what a great leader looks and acts like.

Leadership is subjective. I believe that Its foundation stems from one thing: the ability of a business owner to establish a following among their stakeholders, i.e., customers, adjusters, referral partners, employees, suppliers, and subcontractors. Every leader has their own style and strategy. Further, their leadership styles and methods will vary because they are influenced by multiple factors — the influence of TPAs and managed care programs, lack of positive cash flow, demanding customers, digitalization, changing regulatory over-reach, and recruiting and retaining talent – just to mention a few constraints in your daily work life.

A definition that impressed me is from Jordan French, founding CMO at BeeHex, Inc. who expressed- “Leadership is serving the people that work for you by giving them the tools they need to succeed. Your workers should be looking forward to the customer and not backwards, over their shoulders, at you. It also means genuine praise for what goes well and leading by taking responsibility early and immediately if things go bad.” Very perceptive I would say.

From my observation working with mitigation and restoration contractors across the nation for the last three decades, I have witnessed that great business owners that achieve enormous success in leading their teams have critical leadership skills. Simply stated, if you are a business owner, you are a leader. You have a choice whether to be an effective one or struggle with mediocrity.

The absence of leadership in a mitigation and restoration business creates a lot of frustration and challenges, from employee-management issues, to financial issues, and to customer facing issues. In my work with small-business owners, I notice that once business owners get into the mindset of “I’m a leader,” a lot starts to fall in place.

Many business owners I have worked with think of themselves more as the person who does the work instead of the person who leads the people doing the work. There are many skills that owners must have to lead their businesses successfully. Here are 5 leadership skills that I believe are the most important for restorers to have to survive and thrive in today’s fast moving and ever-changing environment:

  1. Smart Decision Making. It’s important for you as the strategic thought leader in your company to be able to make quick, confident decisions. Knowledge and experience under your belt helps in this area; however, sometimes you must make a decision and stick with it, even if it turns out to be the wrong one. Just pick yourself up and move on. Learn the axiom “Do it Now!”
  2. Hiring. Especially when you start your business as a one-person shop, it’s hard to open it up and let others join in. Come to the realization that you cannot do everything by yourself. Once you are ready to hire, do it right. Do not hire the first warm body that walks in the door that wows you or hire because you know them, e.g., a friend or family member. Make sure you have a bunch of qualified candidates who can carry out your vision.
  3. Listening. Once your “Dream Team” is in place, make sure to listen to what they are telling you either verbally or unspoken. I am not saying to let them boss you around; instead, make sure to respect and value them by listening to their suggestions and feedback. They may very well have tremendous insight if you just stop to listen. Do not be a know-it-all- make sure you park your ego at the door. The best option is to get rid of the business owner “Ego.”
  4. Communicating. Think about what impression you leave behind after a conversation or meeting with your employees. What kind of reaction do you cause when you leave a room? Are your employees happy, angry, sad or do they feel threatened and unheard? Work on communicating in a way that brings about motivation and results, not resentment and anger.
  5. Delegating. As the business owner, you probably know how to do every job in your company. But that doesn’t mean you should be doing every job. Trust your employees to do their work effectively. Do not micromanage. Caution – this is a tough one!

My personal experience has taught me that working on these skills can get frustrating! Most of them do not come naturally, i.e., you are not born with them, they are learned. Success as a leader in your company requires a lot of self-discipline. An awesome quote– if not my favorite quote– from Steve Brown aptly sums things up- “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly– until you learn to do it well.”

So what are you going to do now? How about emailing me to request a FREE one-hour Business Strategy Session. You will be glad you did.

My mission is to serve business owners and corporate executives that suffer from sleepless nights, make little to no money, and have people problems. I help them increase year-over-year performance and profits, build high-performing teams, and get some time back for themselves.

At BDA, we believe that every restoration business owner has the right to expect that their business can deliver to them what they want out of life, freedom and create wealth.

Make it a prosperous month!  See you on the next blog.

John Capponi, CR

Operations and Management Consultant

Business Development Associates, Inc.

Cell: 407-745-7698

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