11 Simple Concepts to Become a Better Leader

Being likeable will help you in your job, business, relationships, and life. I interviewed dozens of successful business leaders for my last book, to determine what made them so likeable and their companies so successful. All of the concepts are simple, and yet, perhaps in the name of revenues or the bottom line, we often lose sight of the simple things – things that not only make us human, but can actually help us become more successful. Below are the eleven most important principles to integrate to become a better leader:

 

1. Listening

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

Listening is the foundation of any good relationship. Great leaders listen to what their customers and prospects want and need, and they listen to the challenges those customers face. They listen to colleagues and are open to new ideas. They listen to shareholders, investors, and competitors. Here’s why the best CEO’s listen more.

2. Storytelling

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” -Robert McAfee Brown

After listening, leaders need to tell great stories in order to sell their products, but more important, in order to sell their ideas. Storytelling is what captivates people and drives them to take action. Whether you’re telling a story to one prospect over lunch, a boardroom full of people, or thousands of people through an online video – storytelling wins customers.

3. Authenticity

“I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” -Oprah Winfrey

Great leaders are who they say they are, and they have integrity beyond compare. Vulnerability and humility are hallmarks of the authentic leader and create a positive, attractive energy. Customers, employees, and media all want to help an authentic person to succeed. There used to be a divide between one’s public self and private self, but the social internet has blurred that line. Tomorrow’s leaders are transparent about who they are online, merging their personal and professional lives together.

4. Transparency

“As a small businessperson, you have no greater leverage than the truth.” -John Whittier

There is nowhere to hide anymore, and businesspeople who attempt to keep secrets will eventually be exposed. Openness and honesty lead to happier staff and customers and colleagues. More important, transparency makes it a lot easier to sleep at night – unworried about what you said to whom, a happier leader is a more productive one.

5. Team Playing

“Individuals play the game, but teams beat the odds.” -SEAL Team Saying

No matter how small your organization, you interact with others every day. Letting others shine, encouraging innovative ideas, practicing humility, and following other rules for working in teams will help you become a more likeable leader. You’ll need a culture of success within your organization, one that includes out-of-the-box thinking.

6. Responsiveness

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” -Charles Swindoll

The best leaders are responsive to their customers, staff, investors, and prospects. Every stakeholder today is a potential viral sparkplug, for better or for worse, and the winning leader is one who recognizes this and insists upon a culture of responsiveness. Whether the communication is email, voice mail, a note or a a tweet, responding shows you care and gives your customers and colleagues a say, allowing them to make a positive impact on the organization.

7. Adaptability

“When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” -Ben Franklin

There has never been a faster-changing marketplace than the one we live in today. Leaders must be flexible in managing changing opportunities and challenges and nimble enough to pivot at the right moment. Stubbornness is no longer desirable to most organizations. Instead, humility and the willingness to adapt mark a great leader.

8. Passion

“The only way to do great work is to love the work you do.” -Steve Jobs

Those who love what they do don’t have to work a day in their lives. People who are able to bring passion to their business have a remarkable advantage, as that passion is contagious to customers and colleagues alike. Finding and increasing your passion will absolutely affect your bottom line.

9. Surprise and Delight

“A true leader always keeps an element of surprise up his sleeve, which others cannot grasp but which keeps his public excited and breathless.” -Charles de Gaulle

Most people like surprises in their day-to-day lives. Likeable leaders underpromise and overdeliver, assuring that customers and staff are surprised in a positive way. There are a plethora of ways to surprise without spending extra money – a smile, We all like to be delighted — surprise and delight create incredible word-of-mouth marketing opportunities.

10. Simplicity

“Less isn’t more; just enough is more.” -Milton Glaser

The world is more complex than ever before, and yet what customers often respond to best is simplicity — in design, form, and function. Taking complex projects, challenges, and ideas and distilling them to their simplest components allows customers, staff, and other stakeholders to better understand and buy into your vision. We humans all crave simplicity, and so today’s leader must be focused and deliver simplicity.

11. Gratefulness

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” -Gilbert Chesterton

Likeable leaders are ever grateful for the people who contribute to their opportunities and success. Being appreciative and saying thank you to mentors, customers, colleagues, and other stakeholders keeps leaders humble, appreciated, and well received. It also makes you feel great! Donor’s Choose studied the value of a hand-written thank-you note, and actually found donors were 38% more likely to give a 2nd time if they got a hand-written note!

 

The Golden Rule: Above all else, treat others as you’d like to be treated

By showing others the same courtesy you expect from them, you will gain more respect from coworkers, customers, and business partners. Holding others in high regard demonstrates your company’s likeability and motivates others to work with you. This seems so simple, as do so many of these principles — and yet many people, too concerned with making money or getting by, fail to truly adopt these key concepts.

Which of these principles are most important to you — what makes you likeable?

 

Dave Kerpen is the New York Times bestselling author of two books, Likeable Social Media and Likeable Business.

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A CEO Gut Check

5 Simple Ways to Guarantee Improved Profit in 2013 – A CEO Gut Check
Date : January 2013
Category : Management and Strategy
By : Joe Zente, TAB Austin
http://www.zthree.com

Two-thirds of Americans make New Year’s resolutions each year. Approximately 5 percent of those who make resolutions actually keep them. In other words…19 out of 20 fail!

Independent of whether or not you make resolutions, most results-oriented people do set goals and view December as a time of renewal and optimism. Business owners plan to achieve new growth and profit targets. Salespeople set their sights on exceeding their quotas.

This year is going to be different. We are REALLY going to achieve our KPIs THIS year.”

This year, we are going to stay focused and blow away our numbers.”

Sound familiar? Unfortunately for many CEOs, it isn’t long before reality sets in. By springtime, many businesses have already fallen behind their plan and are strategizing about ways to close the execution gap. Also, many salespeople and sales managers are formulating creative excuses for mediocre performance and forecasts.

The fact that 95 percent of resolutions are consistently broken, and that most businesses consistently fall short of their goals, all stem from the same set of fundamentals. The following five tips will improve your chances of achieving your 2013 goals, be that a more profitable business or a personal resolution.

Change your internal dialogue: All transformation begins with self-talk. The conversation that you have with yourself is more important than the conversations that you will have with your team. Self-talk dictates one’s beliefs, behavior, communication and effectiveness. Organizational transformation begins with highly committed, future-based, assertive dialogue from the leader. Make a declaration and unconditionally commit. Declare to yourself (and to your team) that you have decided and committed to transform your business and to exceed your (crystal clear) goal. Failure is not an option. Make it clear that you are “all in.” Write it down, make it big and bright to everyone. Then expect to succeed.

Create a compelling WHY: Human beings behave the way they are currently behaving because they CHOOSE to do so. However, the same humans can achieve practically miraculous feats if they have a compelling reason to do so. The problem is that most people hate to leave their comfort zone. They will not leave their happy place unless they have a highly compelling reason to leave it. In most cases, financial incentives (especially small or moderate ones) are not compelling. Neither is hoping that an employee will change and leave their comfort zone. Create a compelling reason for the change you want to see; then make sure everyone understands it and can relate to it from their viewpoint.

Eliminate the word “try” from your vocabulary: Prohibit its use throughout your company. “Trying” is less than all in. In fact, trying is a built-in excuse and will almost guarantee failure. It provides unbridled permission for an employee to return to their comfort zone. Given this permission, they will be back there in a heartbeat. Say goodbye to accountability.

Remove the past from the future: I often ask business owners what they want. They often answer by telling me what they are currently doing or have done in the past. The past does not equal the future, but human beings have a self-limiting tendency to superimpose last year on next year. This tendency destroys creativity, productivity, innovation, effectiveness and profit. You can certainly learn from the mistakes and successes of the past, but make sure to plan the future on a blank slate.

Don’t fly solo and don’t re-invent the wheel: Help is everywhere. Mentors, business coaches, profit-partners and experts are abundant. Whatever your challenges or goals, there are many highly successful people who would love to help. Set a personal goal (with a deadline) to create a success team. Choose carefully. Find people who have been there, who walk their talk, and who have achieved a great deal of success. An accountability partner and business owner peer group (such as TAB) can help immensely. Investing in yourself and your leadership development in this way will have a huge impact on your organization, your growth, your business valuation and your profit.
By following these simple steps, the journey can be as rewarding as your destination, and you will succeed at meeting some, or even all, of your goals.

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6 Ways To Recharge Your Business

While the New Year is already underway, most of us painters are entering the heart of our slow period. What better time to take a step back and recharge your business before the start of spring and the onslaught of work. But don’t take my word for it…

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

For the entrepreneur, this time of year typically means a mad dash to wrap-up remaining projects, close deals, and squeeze in time for family and friends. As the days get shorter, it starts to feel like time accelerates faster than ever — leaving you less and less time to accomplish your year-end goals.

However, amidst the holiday chaos, it is possible to stay grounded and set the foundation for a successful year to come. Here are six ways to help you recharge your business in the New Year.

1. Get your priorities in line: Time management is a year-round challenge for business owners, but schedules get even tighter during the holidays. That’s why it’s more important than ever to know your priorities. Set a stopwatch for 20 minutes and write down everything that needs to get done. Then, give yourself another 10 minutes to assess which of those tasks are the most important to yourself, your business and your family. Keep that list in mind as you start each day — and make sure all your activities are centered around those core priorities.

2. Ditch the New Year’s resolutions: A FranklinCovey survey found that 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions will break them. And a third never make it to the end of January. If you’re one of the many people who have left a string of resolutions behind, it’s time for a new approach.

Rather than creating your resolutions for 2013, use the end of the calendar year to reflect on your business and market. What were some of the best things that your business accomplished this year? What were some of the biggest mistakes? Don’t rush to begin planning the new year until you’ve celebrated your wins and acknowledged your mistakes.

3. Evaluate your year as a business leader: In addition to reflecting on your business, this is a good time to reflect on yourself. After all, as an entrepreneur, you don’t exactly get a yearly performance review. Being as objective as possible, write down your strongest characteristics as a leader — and your weakest. Then, think about how each of these characteristics impacted your business, team members and partners during the year. This type of objective self-assessment can help you pinpoint areas to improve in 2013.

4. Build important connections: As a good entrepreneur, you’re looking out for interesting opportunities around every corner. And the end of the year offers a bevy of parties and events. Make some time to take advantage of these networking events and meet new people. Sometimes a simple party is the key to a great new client, collaboration or partnership that will pay dividends in the new year.

5. Show the love: During this hectic time, it’s all too easy to become inwardly focused — where you’re thinking more about crossing things off your list than what (or who) really matters. Of course, holidays are the time for family and friends, but I’m also talking about the professional relationships that matter to you.

Think about the most important people you’ve worked with throughout the year — whether it’s a devoted assistant or a colleague who keeps introducing you to great contacts. Then, let them know just how much you appreciate them.

6. Unplug and recharge your batteries: No matter how busy your schedule gets, every entrepreneur should take some much-needed time away from the office and digital devices. Take advantage, since this is often the one time of year when people expect you won’t be working (unless, of course, you’re involved in some kind of seasonal business). Downtime is the only real way to hit the reset button, both personally and professionally. And it will open the door to fresh perspectives and new inspiration.

http://mashable.com/2013/01/01/recharge-your-business/.

Boss or Leader?

Since stepping into the leadership role as the president of the Residential Forum, I’ve come across an array of information this past year with regards to what it takes to be successful as a leader. I think it’s that whole frontal lobe theory that whatever is on your mind shows up everywhere you look.

My biggest takeaway so far was a diagram outlining the difference between a leader and a boss. I’ve never liked the word “boss” very much, so I’m striving to be a good leader (gotta be good before you can become great), and since I always find gentle reminders helpful, I’ve attached the diagram below. May we all continue to grow in a positive and forward direction in the year ahead.

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The 10 Biggest Mistakes

Residential forum - painter

Let’s hope your competitor is making these mistakes.

This from The Contractor’s Business Coach. Intended for General Contractors, most of the top mistakes apply to us painters as well.

 

The 10 Biggest Mistakes Contractors Make – Revisited

by Ron Roberts

It’s been several years since I published my first report: The 10 Biggest Mistakes Contractors Make. I wrote and released the report during the peak of the construction boom in late 2006. The report was intended to be a warning shot across the bow of construction company owners. I knew most were only succeeding due to the free-flowing money that flooding the real estate market. If the money was cut off, the economy would turn and the poor habits of contractors everywhere were going to hit them like a Tsunami. Few would survive.

In hindsight, the economy turned much worse than I thought it could. Lending completely dried up. Developers were forced to liquidate well-performing properties to accommodate the insanely tight new bank capital requirements.

As I look over the list today, I’d probably re-order a few of the mistakes in light of the present economy. However, the 10 are still the 10. I rarely meet a contractor who isn’t failing on at least five of them. Crazily, messing up on one of them at the exact wrong time can put you out of business. It’s not likely, but it’s possible. More commonly when a contractor goes out of business he has made 8 or 9 of the mistakes.

The following is a greatly shortened version. The full report is available at www.ContractorsBusinessCoach.com.

Grab a blank piece of paper. Drawn a line down the middle of it and a line across the top. Above the left column write INSIGHTS and above the right column write ACTIONS.

List the insights you’re gaining from the report. Next to each insight, write down the actions you’re going to take to protect your business.

MISTAKE #1: NOT SELLING AGGRESSIVELY

The biggest business mistake you can make is assuming that no matter what you say, people will always take the lowest price. Huge mistake. HUGE!

Clients, including general contractors, will ignore the lowest price offer when it is in their best interest to do so. In other words, selling is helping a prospect choose the right course of action, even if it comes at a higher price.

When you don’t sell:

  • You struggle to make money.
  • You work for bad clients.
  • You lose good people.

When you do sell:

  • You set your own price…and profits
  • You pick and choose your clients.
  • You can hire the best workers who help you maintain your competitive advantage.

The simple truth is; commercial contractors have been trained to offer the lowest price they can.

Clients Will Pay More For Your Services
Clients pay to have problems solved. It’s that simple. You must convince your prospect that you will solve his problem better than the next guy and the right solution costs more.

MISTAKE #2: NOT HAVING AN EFFECTIVE LEAD GENERATION SYSTEM

Commercial trade contractors often rely on general contractors to track down work opportunities. Tracking down low-price-wins bidding opportunities is not a lead generation system.

Contractors who thrive do so by generating negotiated work. Contractors who never land negotiated work have broken lead generation systems. It’s that simple. Negotiated work is the acid test of your lead generation system.

If your lead generation system is not producing ample opportunity for negotiated work, you need to fix the problem.
Marketing Efforts Fail When
They Are Not Performed Consistently.

Okay, so you’ve committed yourself to generating good leads, you deployed your favorite two lead generation systems, and worked them hard, but the leads aren’t coming in. You’re growing very frustrated. You’ve spent all that money and time on lead generation and it’s BOMBED.

Your message isn’t hitting your prospects’ hot buttons. If your marketing message isn’t hitting your prospects’ emotional hot button you’re flushing money down the toilet.

This is the reason lead generation is so tough to get right. Whatever you are saying, in writing or in person, must be phrased almost perfectly.

Test your marketing message. Consistently work your lead generation system. Reap the rewards.

MISTAKE #3: WORKING FOR BAD CLIENTS

There really is no other way to say it, so here it goes:

Bad Clients Will Break Your Business

Bad clients come in all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds but they all have one thing in common. They have completely unrealistic expectations. They want steak on a hamburger budget. They’ll throw you under the bus to save a buck.

Bad clients live by the golden rule, “He who has the gold sets the rules.” Bad clients use their control of your cash to force you to do whatever they want you to do…including accepting less money than your contract calls for.

You have to be sniff bad clients out before they steal your life savings. Do you often feel your clients are out to get you? To take advantage of you? Guess what?
Most are.

How many times have you had money withheld without legitimate reason? How many times has a client demanded you go above and beyond the work scope just because they believed that’s what they were paying for? How many times have you been told your price is too high and you MUST bring it down?

Your clients don’t care about you. All they care about is about is getting their job done on time, in budget, and exactly as they want it…whether they paid for that or not. They couldn’t care less how you come out, whether you lose your shirt or not. That’s not their concern. That’s why over 75% of construction companies go out of business within 5 years and over 90% fail to make it 10 years.

You must stay away from clients who:

  • Withhold payment as long as they wish.
  • Refuse to compromise.
  • Nickel and dime you to death.
  • Back-charge you for perceived quality faults.
  • Verbally order changes then refuse to pay a fair price for the change after the work is in.
  • Use design teams who produce incomplete or error-filled drawings and specs.

You just can’t escape bad clients. Don’t let bad clients put you out of business.

MISTAKE #4: SIGNING BAD CONTRACTS

The laws governing the construction industry are well established. Here is what they boil down to:

You Will Be Held Accountable To Any
Terms and Conditions You Sign For.

Most contractors sign a bad contract now and then. When you do, you open a Pandora’s Box of headaches such as:

  • Agreeing to a scope-of-work that you didn’t cover with your price.
  • Throwing away your ability to force prompt payment.
  • Throwing away your right to sue.
  • Giving your client the ability to avoid paying for change orders.

Here are three actions that will keep you out of hot water:

  1. Learn to read contract language or find a good construction lawyer.
  2. Create a set of standard contracts and proposals.
  3. Read every contract closely before signing or pay your lawyer to.

Contracts are a necessary part of our industry. Ignore their language and you may end up paying the ultimate price – your life savings.

MISTAKE #5: NOT HAVING A LARGE CREDIT LINE

(Note: here is the one mistake I would re-word in light of today’s incredibly tight lending market. I’d re-word this to be MISTAKE #5: NOT MAINTAINING A LARGE NEST EGG)

The commercial construction industry is notorious for its slow pay. 60 day pay cycles are quite common (update: 90+ days is now common). Slow pay stresses your ability to pay bills on time, most of which can’t be delayed, such as payroll.

While working for a General Contractor, it never ceased to amaze me how few of our subcontractors had credit lines. Probably less than one out of ten did. That is no way to run a construction company.

You need to solve your cash flow problems before they arise. The solution is quite obvious: arrange for a line of credit with your bank. (update: leave money in the bank – a lot of money)

Your Credit Line Should Equal
10% of Your Annual Sales

Assuming you have sufficient professional and personal assets to back a credit line, here’s how to get that line going.

1. Have your CPA prepare a balance sheet for your personal assets and liabilities.
2. Copy your reviewed financial statements from the last two years.
3. Have your CPA prepare your financial statement year-to-date for the current year.
4. Create a 12 month cash flow budget that shows projected sales, job expenses, overhead expenses, inbound cash, monthly cash deficit or supply, and year-to-date accumulated cash flow.
5. Sit down with your banker, go over the documents and ask him whether he can get the line of credit you need.
6. If your bank is unwilling to provide the line you need, call your CPA, insurance agent, and bond agent and ask for banking references.
7. Schedule meetings based on their recommendations.
8. Keep meeting bankers until you find one that will provide your company with the support you need to run your business right.

Always Arrange For Your Credit Line
WHEN YOU DON’T NEED IT!

Waiting until you need credit is the surest guarantee your bank will not grant it. Always deal with a bank from a position of strength.

Of course, once you’ve been awarded your credit line your work isn’t done. As your business grows, your line needs to grow. To keep your banker happy and to get him to raise your line, you must:

Run A Profitable Business

You also need to:

1. Keep your balance sheet strong by leaving money in your business.
2. Pay off your line as soon as the cash comes in.
3. Keep your debt to equity reasonable.
4. Keep your banker up to speed on your business’ progress and future plans.

Proper cash management can save you a ton of money. Work with your banker. Grow your line-of-credit.

MISTAKE #6: FAILING TO HOLD FIELD LEADERS ACCOUNTABLE

Who do you pay to:

  • Ensure your crews work safely?
  • Ensure your crews perform quality work?
  • Ensure your crews hit their production targets?

Your crew leaders, your foremen, and /or your superintendents. That’s who.
What happens when your field leaders fail to perform their jobs correctly? They endanger employees, customer satisfaction, budgets, and schedules. That’s a hefty price to pay for the poor performance of just a handful of people.

Let’s be honest here, field leaders have a tough job. So hard in fact, they rarely do their job right. Most contractors are so fearful of losing the leaders they have, they are hesitant to hold them accountable for poor performance. That is a costly mistake to make.

MISTAKE #7: NOT KNOWING THE COST OF WORK
Few contractors really know their cost of work or the speed at which their crews move. The problem usually shows up the first time they bid on an out-of-the-ordinary scope of work. As the contractor gets deep into the job, he suddenly realizes he is woefully short on man-hours. Has this happened to you?

Let’s face facts. A contractor must be able to predict how long his crews will take to complete their work. Otherwise projects will consistently run over budget and year end results will be less than expected and desired.

Here are a few suggestions to save you a lot of headache with your job costing.

Find the middle ground. You can mess up your tracking by being too general, assigning all hours to the job without further breakdown, or too detailed, assigning every hour to the cost codes used by your estimator.

Have your crews assign their labor and equipment time to the four to six tasks that account for 80% of the work. Have them throw the rest into an “other” category.

Do not lump equipment costs into overhead and spread them across all jobs based on job price. That approach typically leads to horrible job selection decisions. Know the average hourly cost of owning and operating each piece of equipment and charge it to the job based on hours used.

Financial accounting and tax accounting procedures are in direct conflict with proper job costing techniques. Unless you are running one of the high-end accounting packages (Timberline, for example), you may need to run two separate accounting systems: one for financial accounting and one for job costing. For contractors generating less than $5 million in sales, the easiest solution is to use spreadsheets for tracking and analyzing job costs.

Remember, not knowing how long it takes to put in work will lead to massive financial losses. Make sure your job costing system is producing the information you need.

MISTAKE #8: ACCEPTING HIGH TURNOVER

Construction workers are nomadic by nature. Guns-for-hire if you will. Furthermore, there isn’t exactly an over-abundance of really good ones. You are in a recruiting war at all times.

In order to be profitable, your employees must perform up to expectations; they won’t if you are constantly suffering turnover. Turnover is a killer.

Turnover leaves you standing in place. You end up wearing yourself out on staffing tasks. Turnover takes time away from sales and marketing activities. It takes time away from people development. It takes time away from your family.

Finding and recruiting good workers is difficult, especially if your company gains the reputation for being hard on employees. Research shows that 70% of employees who change jobs do so because they don’t like their immediate boss (this touches on Mistake # 6, failing to hold field leaders accountable). You’d better create a management team (including foremen and crew leaders) who knows how to get the most out of its people without ticking them off.
High turnover is a warning sign that your management team needs to make a few changes in its approach to managing the personnel. It really doesn’t have any choice.

MISTAKE #9: PURSUING A FOOLISH STRATEGY

We’ve talked about selling, marketing, people management, cash flow, but we haven’t addressed the big picture problem: trying to win with a losing game plan (strategy).

What strategy do most contractors use? Hire me! I’ll do anything you want. You got cash? I got the time.

Here is a list of the common strategy problems I see:

  • Trying to do too much with too little office support.
  • Taking on jobs they don’t have the right equipment for.
  • Taking jobs larger and more complex than their team is capable of managing effectively.
  • Pursuing work they enjoy instead of work they can make money on.
  • Putting the wrong people in wrong jobs.
  • Trying to compete on low price (Mistake #1) when they aren’t the lowest cost provider.

Very few contractors go through the strategy process systematically. When they don’t, they court trouble. Your clients’ expectations and your competition’s aggression change yearly. Your must keep your business strategy current. You must keep it realistic.

Find your company’s core strength – the thing you do better than every other contractor in your market. That could me your understanding of a certain client (niche market). That could be your use of technology. That could be your ability to attract highly skilled workers. That could be your financial strength. It could be several things.

Figure out how that core strength gives you an advantage that is meaningful to your client. Figure out a way to express that core strength persuasively to your clients (your Unique Selling Proposition).

Build your lead generation and staffing systems around this core strength / Unique Selling Proposition.

In order to win, you must pursue a strong, unique strategy. If you are adopting the same strategy as three or four other contractors in your area, you are fighting an uphill battle. Play by different rules.

MISTAKE #10: RUNNING THE BUSINESS WITHOUT A PLAN

As the old saying goes “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Contractors tend take whatever work comes their way and spend whatever money they feel like spending. When they do, they arrive at the end of the year surprised to discover:

  • Their year was unprofitable.
  • Their crews stood around a lot.
  • Their equipment was often unavailable due to breakdowns.
  • Most of the jobs ran significantly behind schedule.

Any of this sound familiar? It comes from not planning.

Few contractors plan well. Planning is a tedious and boring task to action oriented folks (like contractors). Ask yourself this, “How likely am I to meet my business goals if I don’t figure out exactly how I’m going to meet them?” Not very likely.

Would you try to build a building, bridge, or parking lot without plans? You shouldn’t try to build a business without them either.
The 10 Biggest Mistakes Contractors Make

Let’s revisit the list of mistakes you must avoid if you are to reach your financial goals, stabilize your company, and live a less stressful life.

Mistake #1: Not selling aggressively
Mistake #2: Not having an effective lead generation system
Mistake #3: Working for bad clients
Mistake #4: Signing bad contracts
Mistake #5: Not Having a Large Credit Line
Mistake #6: Failing to Hold Field Leaders Accountable
Mistake #7: Not Knowing the Cost of Work
Mistake #8: Accepting High Turnover
Mistake #9: Pursuing a Weak Strategy
Mistake #10: Running the Business Without a Plan.

Job Descriptions

Job descriptions are one of the fall-through-the-cracks type administrative chores (at least for me).

Complete job descriptions can be downloaded from the Members area of the Residential Forum web site.

It really should be done, but hasn’t yet. Then the article below came from our Workman’s Comp clinic and it made me re-think the whole process.

I had always assumed job descriptions were intended for hiring, employee training or for disputing unemployment claims. Perhaps, but also essential in objectively determining when an injured employee can safely return to work. Too soon and there could be another injury that the Wealthy Company Owner will likely pay for.

The article mentions the Dictionary of Occupational Titles as a source for job descriptions. Although it’s excessively complete, there were aspects of a painter’s job description I had not considered. If you’re brave enough to take a look, this might save some time: Painter (construction) 840.381-010

An easier option is to use the Job Descriptions in the Members area of this web site. Not only Job Descriptions, but a trove of essential forms – all created and used by top-notch painting companies.Yet another reason why Forum membership will grow your business.

A complete and accurate job description helps aid in the recovery of an employee from a work injury.

The scenario…

The sheepish look on supervisor Glen Baker’s face told manager Mike Davis a problem was about to be laid on him.

“You know I like to handle this stuff myself,” Glen began, “but this is a tricky situation.

“You remember Scott who was in that car accident?”

“Sure,” Mike said. “What a shame. The other car ran a red light, slammed into Scott’s car. He’s had, how many surgeries, three, four?

I understand he’s come back to work.”

“Right,” said Glen. “We’re real glad to see him. He’s a great guy who’s been through hell. But …”

“But what?” asked Mike.

“Scott can’t get around like he used to. He’s walking without the cane now, but he’s slowed down a lot. I didn’t think he could return to his old position, so I’ve got him doing some lighter stuff.

“He keeps pushing to return to his old job. It obviously means a lot to him. But I don’t think he can move quickly enough if he needed to. I don’t want something else to happen to him on the job – or worse to him and someone else.”

Mike knew a decision had to be made about whether Scott could return to his previous tasks without affecting safety.

If you were Mike, what would you do next?

When given the above scenario 3 safety experts were asked what they would do and the unanimous decision was to have Scott evaluated by a physician familiar with the workplace and his job description.

 Why a job description?

A job description outlines the responsibilities of a position as well as the employee’s work environment. Job descriptions are critical for a variety of legal and business-related purposes in companies of all sizes but did you know job descriptions also help the physician return an injured employee back to work safely? It is important to verify an employee can safely perform the tasks of their job without injuring themselves further.

An accurate job description allows the physician to determine if an employee can safely return to the workplace or if modified duty is more appropriate. Physicians and physical therapists experienced in workers’ compensation injury care often use functional testing that parallels the job description to help determine the employees’ physical ability to return to the job safely.

If you don’t have a current job description for your employees’ positions, the Dictionary of Occupational Titles is a good place to start. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) was created by the Employment and Training Administration, and was last updated in 1991. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles can be found at http://www.oalj.dol.gov/libdot.htm..

Hey! I’m NOT Walmart!

What do you say when you’re told your price is too high and the owner is leaning toward the unemployed brother-in-law or  the latest low-bidder-in-town?  Here’s my list of TOP 5:

#5: Who are you going to call when the paint looks bad 3 years from now and the low-bid painter who you hired to do the work has gone out of business because he didn’t charge his clients enough to remain in business?

#4: What if your unemployed brother-in-law does a lousy job?  Can you fire him and finish the job yourself?

#3: If you pay $2500 for a 3 year paint job, rather than $5000 for an 8 year paint job, are you really saving money?

#2: Oh, then you should definately hire your brother in law/that cheap painter in the station wagon…what could go wrong?

#1: Very sorry, but I’m not Walmart and will not meet or beat anybody’s advertised price.

I have discovered that a little candor and humor goes a long way, but a good open conversational relationship is usually required otherwise you’re likely to be percieved as a smart-ass.  I welcome your contributions!.

Vision 2020

Many of us are so caught up in the day to day operations of our businesses that we often forget how important it is to spend some time each week working on the business. Do you have a vision for where you would like your business to be in 2020? It’s only a mere eight years out, so if not you might want to take a moment to think about it. No need to reinvent the wheel, just look to one of the leading global companies at the forefront of their industry for a sound and simple plan. And if you need a nudge from your peers to help you put your plan into place, bring it with you to AST 13 in Chicago and let us take a look. There’s nothing quite like honest feedback from those who have been where you are and are headed in the same direction to help with the process.

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AST – An Investment In Your Business

My first ASTs left me nauseous – it wasn’t the company, mind you – everyone is friendly, open and honest.  What was sickening was the long list of To-Dos that each AST generated – there were so many great ideas, tips and tricks I heard and wanted to implement that I was overwhelmed with how immature my company was.

Fast forward to recent years and I am now less prone to feelings of insecurity – my business fires on most cylinders most of the time and I’ve learned to better triage my To-Do list into short, medium and long term goals, as well as the “Its Never Going to Happen In My Lifetime’ list.

The point being, its takes fortitude and confidence to spend 2 days talking with your peers; it requires honesty, transparency and curiosity, but the payoff is enormous.

If you haven’t been, you must attend.  It is the single most effective investment you’ll make in your business.

– Nigel Costelloe, Catchlight Painting.

The Ultimate Productivity Booster

Happiness at work. Sorry if that’s not the answer you were hoping for, but research shows that people who are happy with their jobs are more productive than any other group. The top 3 reasons:

1. Happy people work better with others

2. Happy people are more creative

3. Happy people fix problems instead of complaining about them

Want to learn more about the why and how, read the full article below. 🙂

Top 10 reasons why happiness at work is the ultimate productivity booster.