Pay attention to the fundamentals of business or you'll pay the price.

I've been a part of many businesses - a plumbing, heating and cooling business, an ice cream store, a chain of liquor stores, a multistate real estate operation, a computer software company, and a heating manufacturer.

All this has allowed me to demystify the process of operations. I know how to get a company to shift their focus to operations and sales without causing a mutiny. The implementation of training or ideas is actually the part that matters. Training becomes a very expensive proposition if the training manuals get put on the shelves never to be opened again.

Are you frustrated by the same silly statements over and over again - “I never knew that,” “No one ever told me to I'm supposed to do that” - and the general confusion? Do you want the power to improve your customer-service-based business?

Before you can get plugged into the kind of power I'm talking about, you need to make an honest assessment of where you are today and where you want to be in the future. And it must be in writing. If it's not written, it's not real.

This is the foundation of a sound business plan. Once you have the goal, you need to prioritize the many projects and steps it'll take to reach that goal. A Priority Project Planner for prioritizing and implementing projects can trigger you to assess, plan, take action and inspect those things you know you need to implement. A thorough needs assessment should do the following:

  • Learn what you're doing right so you can do more of it;
  • Learn what you need to stop doing and why; and
  • Learn what you need to begin doing and how you'll benefit.

Power Up

The fundamentals of owning and operating any business are remarkably the same. If you don't pay attention to these fundamentals, you're going to pay the price.

The Power Fundamentals to go from powerless to powerful are as follows:

1. Operating Power! is the power that comes from creating the written systems that everyone in every department of the company learns. These are all the tasks the company does put into writing. They'll make your company run systematically and automatically without you having to micromanage everything.

2. Staffing Power! is the power to have more effective and limitless supply of people willing to be trained your way. It's a fact we always need to add people with the right attitude and get the people with the wrong attitude to leave. This process allows you to hold people accountable for the sales, operational and technical standards you create. The existing staff gets better or they go away if they don't want to play a better game.

You can recruit, hire and train new staff better. You'll be able to identify what they know and don't and then train them your way. Ultimately, you'll have the power to take an apprentice and make him into a tech. You need to know how to train.

3. Leadership Power! is the power to set a goal, inspire a vision or a belief, and the actions that make it all a reality. To do that, you need everyone on the same page. The manager and owner need to be effectively working on the business, coaching those who need it and congratulating those who are achieving on their own. Leadership is about working on the right things, in the right order and getting them implemented. This is where knowing the power of how to create and use a Priority Project Planner pays off.

4. Financial Power! is the power to keep financial score to see if you're winning the profit game. It begins by knowing how to generate the correct selling price, how each person affects the financial success of the company and what he or she can do through financial understanding to buy-in that the pricing is real. Then financial power focuses on what key numbers need to be collected and trained on. Accounts receivable, accounts payable and the credit department need to be fully involved in this process.

5. Marketing Power! is the power to make the phone ring when you really need it to, not when you're already too busy. Once you're convinced about the price you need to charge, it's time to give the tools needed to help the staff sell. Effective marketing helps you reach your target audience who will most likely desire what you're selling. Everyone has a stake in this. Wearing the uniforms, joining organizations and networking in the community is a part of marketing.

6. Selling Power! is the power to get each department to play a role in the pricing and profitability being established in financial power. It allows you to focus on how CSR/DSR and techs primarily affect the selling process. Sales meetings, role-playing and scripts all are put to work here to make everyone understand they have a vested interest to sell what is ethical to the customer.

7. Sales Coaching Power! is the power to have everyone who performs work for the customer use a selling system that is linked to a system for coaching sales. Using objective financial measurements, you create a reward system based on a three-tier approach:

  • Do this measured minimum and you keep your job. Thanks for coming to work.
  • Do below this measured minimum for a specific time and you get coached on how to improve your sales. Keep doing poorly and you'll need to find another place to work.
  • Do above the measured minimum and you've earned a bonus.
8. Training Power!is the power to get really good at training. Based on all the other power concepts, you must acknowledge that training is essential to your success. We in this industry must agree to never stop training. We need to become excellent at training and excellent at communicating through effective meetings. This requires the development of the skills of an excellent presenter.

Do all this and experience the power of owning and operating a successful business.

Levi at ISH North America
Al Levi is a scheduled speaker at this year's ISH North America trade show held Oct. 14-16 in Boston. He will present his “Operating Power!” seminar Thursday, Oct. 14 at 3 p.m., and his “Leadership Power!” seminar Friday, Oct. 15 at 9:45 a.m. To register for the show, visit