All that you really have to sell comes down to just two words.

When I visit new contractors around the country for the first time for our one-to-one work, the first step is called Planning Power!

This two-day visit has a number of little steps in the process even before I arrive. My goal in Planning Power! is to review the resources they’ve sent me before the visit and to use my onsite visit to get a 360-degree view of the company from the perspective of my Power Concepts briefly described below:
  • Operating Power. Create the policies and procedures for every task in every department of the company.

  • Financial Power. Generate the selling price and define how each person affects the financial success of the company.

  • Selling Power. Establish how each department plays a role in the pricing and profitability in order to focus on how each employee affects the selling process.

  • Marketing Power. Once the price is established and the tools to sell have been given, we need to market effectively to reach the target audience - those most likely to desire what we’re selling. 

  • Staffing Power. Add people with the right attitude and develop the rest in-house. Hold people accountable for the sales, operational and technical standards you create.

  • Leadership Power. Set the goal, inspire a vision or belief and take the actions to make it all a reality.

  • Sales Coaching Power. Have everyone who performs work for the customer use a selling system that is linked to a system for coaching sales.
I’m looking to see where they’re weak and strong in each area it takes to run a successful business.

Typically an hour or two into the first day of the visit, owners will ask me, “What’s the single most important thing I need to do right now?”

I understand their frustration and impatience. I, too, was in their seat for many years. But I was always left to stumble for an answer. I knew the report after my visit contained 25 to 30 pages of material they needed to know and we still had the better part of two long days to spend together discussing why a lot of things either did or didn’t work at their company.

Big Message

Finally, flying home one time I came up with what I think is the best approach for any contractor I visit and for you as well. When asked that question these days, I now say, “If I were to stand up right now and leave your office and we didn’t do all the talking we’re going to do in the next two days and in the debriefing calls when I get home, I’d take a big paint roller and I’d write the following words in big, black, 8-foot letters right on the wall and leave: ‘Billable Hours!’”

The reason these two words are all I’d leave behind or tell them to focus on at this point is because once you understand that if you remove the stuff we sell from the equation and focus on what we really have to sell, it’s billable hours.

Knowing that it’s all about the billable hours changed how I viewed who really was and wasn’t my customer.

And once you know that all you really have to sell is billable hours and that your techs can only give you so many billable hours in a day (Hint: it’s typically half of the hours you pay them for!), then you, too, will get more focused. Because the only valid question you must ask yourself each day is, “Where should I be going to today to give me the best chance to sell the billable hours I want and need to sell?”

Focusing on maximizing the billable hours you have to sell makes it easier to understand how our billable- hour efficiency goes down as we drive our trucks too much all over town or we slam our techs with too many calls at once. Instead, we should be teaching them how to stay in front of the customer they’re with right now and ethically sell them everything they legitimately want and need and do expert work the first time without generating unnecessary callbacks.

Focusing on maximizing the billable hours makes it a whole lot clearer as to who your ideal customer is and isn’t. It makes it a lot clearer that you need to have techs who know how to sell, how to be operationally proficient and technically skilled.

And if you do multiple trades like plumbing, heating, cooling, electrical and more, you need to cross-train them so a tech can hold down the service area and dispatch can maximize efficiency.

Can you see how much easier it is to know how many calls your marketing must generate when you first think about how many billable hours you need to sell today, this week, this month, this quarter and this year to hit your sales goal?

Worshipping the sale of billable hours is an excellent way to approach how to run your company because it will get you to invest in the necessary training that allows your techs to sell those hours and be efficient at their work to further squeeze every billable hour out of every hour of pay.

If you’re focused on billable hours sold, it doesn’t matter if you’re focused on service and repair or install and remodel. The only difference is whether the tech sells them or the salespeople sell them.

Before I come and paint on your office wall, I have only one question to ask you, “Where are you going today that will give you the best chance to sell the billable hours you need?”