Matt Michel: The 13 actions of profitable plumbers
Some plumbers outperform their peers in the same market. But profitable plumbers are not necessarily smarter, better educated, or luckier than their less profitable peers — they simply do a better job practicing the actions that lead to prosperity.
Here are 13 actions of profitable plumbers. Implement these, and success is sure to follow.
They evangelize. The profitable plumbing company owner is the chief salesperson of the business. The owner is always preaching the good word of what the company does and why talented people should join the company.
They hire up. Speaking of talent, profitable plumbers seek the best talent available across the board and work on persuading talented, but unavailable, people to join the company anyway. If owners do not hire up, they limit the business by their own shortcomings.
They take necessary risks. Some plumbing company owners are so cautious they still use time and materials because flat rate pricing seems too risky. They do not adopt performance pay because of what might go wrong. Accordingly, they have missed many opportunities that profitable plumbers exploit. Profitable plumbers focus more on the upside than the downside and are confident of their ability to recover form a mistake.
They focus on processes. Companies are people-centric or process-centric. People-centric businesses go through turmoil whenever a key person leaves because the way things were done resided in the head of an individual. Process-centric businesses develop and refine processes and procedures that work independent of the person in charge. For this reason, profitable plumbers focus on processes and systems.
They make themselves unnecessary. The goal of the most profitable plumbers is to personally become unnecessary in the day-to-day operations of their companies. When they achieve this, they are free to work “on” the business, further enhancing revenue and profitability.
They think big. Too many plumbing company owners have small goals, small aspirations, and small thinking. They succeed in building small companies. Profitable plumbing company owners think bigger. They are constantly thinking about the next milestone. They create BHAGs (big, hairy, audacious goals). Even if they ultimately fall short of the BHAG, they outperform plumbers thinking small.
They keep learning. Learning does not stop at the conclusion of school — the most important lessons come after school is over. Profitable plumbers never take a break from learning more about plumbing, more about business, more about managing people, more about everything. Most have an innate curiosity. Learning results in greater profits.
They take regular breaks. Taking a break, whether it involves personal travel or attending a trade show, is seen by profitable plumbers as something important in its own right. It takes them out of the day-to-day firefights and gives them new feature sets to apply to old problems. Moreover, they return fired up and enthusiastic. We all need regular doses of motivation.
They offer thanks and praise. Profitable plumbers give lots of credit to others. They look for opportunities to thank people and whenever possible and offer praise in public.
They accept their own fallibility. Profitable plumbers know they do not have all of the answers. And just because something’s been done a certain way in the past does not mean it is the best or only way. They are willing to be wrong. This is the foundation of continuous improvement.
They hire expert advisors. Just like all plumbers know the average homeowner is better off hiring expert help for plumbing problems, profitable plumbers hire experts for their business. This includes legal expertise, financial expertise, and business expertise.
They network. Because business is built on relationships, profitable plumbers are networkers. They network in the communities they serve. Locally, they join network groups and service clubs. They also network with other contractors, through local trade associations and national contractor business alliances. They also seek out conferences and networking events so they can learn about the service innovations the best and brightest are deploying long before their competitors.
They execute rapidly. When it is time to pull the trigger, they act. They do not wait for perfection. They know that good enough is good enough. Their motto is to execute and improve.