Mastering the business of contracting
A 7-Power Contractor is a leader who is in command of the seven major areas that require his attention as a business owner.
When I was a contractor, most days it seemed as if a hurricane was heading my way. The winds of change and the destruction that came with running a contracting business seemed enormous and never-ending.
There were a million and one things I struggled to master and stay on top of, not only to just make it through the day but also to feel as if I was making some headway.
Fortunately, I came to realize the contracting business really requires us to master certain powers. Seven of them, to be exact. And in that moment, I finally felt some relief. It felt doable and indeed it was.
With clarity comes power.
I’d love to say that you have to be a 10 in each of these powers. The trick is to never be a zero in any of them and to always be working to improve. A weakness today can become a strength tomorrow.
In fact, these seven power concepts, when implemented properly, have proved so effective for so many contractors, I decided to do something that would enable me to get this knowledge in the hands of as many of you as possible. The result is my new book called, “The 7-Power Contractor: Run Your Contracting Business With Less Stress and More Success.”
What is a 7-Power Contractor?
A 7-Power Contractor is a leader who is in command of the seven major areas that require his attention as an owner — leadership and planning, operations, finance, selling, marketing, staffing, and sales coaching. Being a 7-Power Contractor is similar to being a five-tool player in baseball — an athlete who excels at hitting for average, hitting for power, base-running skills and speed, throwing ability, and fielding ability.
The good news is becoming a 7-Power Contractor is not nearly as hard as becoming a five-tool baseball player. All that is required is a desire to succeed, a commitment to getting organized, and a willingness to follow the program so you can run your contracting business with less stress and more success.
These powers are designed to work together.
1. Planning Power. This is the ability to set a goal, then confidently and consistently work on the right things, at the right time, in the right way to make that goal a reality. Planning Power is always on and running in the background, kind of like the operating system on your computer.
Planning Power will stabilize your situation and provide you with the structure and direction you need to leverage the six other powers. In this system, Planning Power should always be undertaken first. No exceptions. If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re going to end up someplace else!
2. Operating Power.This critical power is undertaken second, again no exceptions. Operating Power is manifested through the creation of policies and procedures for every task, in every department of your company, and the implementation of systems that will enable the company to run systematically and automatically without you from day to day.
By establishing written documentation about what people need to know when they need to know it, sharing knowledge you were used to keeping to yourself will become second nature because it means you don’t have to do everything anymore.
3. Financial Power.This is expressed through a known financial position and accurate selling prices that are driven by your budget, not the market. You need to know the difference between tax accounting and the kind of accounting you do to make sure your business stays on track day to day.
To achieve your goals, you also need to take control of your financials and monitor them weekly. Yes, weekly.
4. Staffing Power.This comes from your commitment to constantly recruit people with the right attitude and develop them in-house, with continuous and comprehensive training. Staffing Power also puts an end to awkward end-of-day “Got a minute?” meetings with employees who want to ask you for a raise, because everyone will know what the next level is, how much it pays and exactly what they need to do to get there.
When you have this power, you are helping existing staff get better and encouraging those who don’t want to play a better game to go work for your competitors.
5. Selling Power.This focuses on the selling process, specifically on how each employee affects the selling process. Few if any of us are “born to sell,” but there are a multitude of ways anyone can get better, if they really want to get better. It starts with thoroughly documented procedures (Operating Power) and continuous training (Staffing Power).
Once the selling price has been established through Financial Power, the number of clients you can service well has been determined through Staffing Power, and the tools to sell have been given through Selling Power, you can begin to undertake the next power.
6. Marketing Power.This power ensures we are marketing in a way that will effectively reach our target audience — those most likely to desire what we’re selling and who are more than willing to pay for our expertise and professionalism.
In fact, Marketing Power is as much about demonstrating our professionalism at every juncture as it is about letting prospective customers know we are out there. Marketing Power ensures that every encounter customers have with our company reinforces an image of professionalism, from our logos to our trucks, forms, business cards, uniforms and shoe covers, and even how we greet the customer at the door.
7. Sales Coaching Power.It should come as no surprise that this final power and Selling Power are linked. Selling Power is about the system of selling, while Sales Coaching Power is all about measuring the selling results and creating a system that rewards the right stuff.
You’ll want to make sure you have Financial Power before you start Sales Coaching Power, because one of the beautiful things about this system is that it is designed to reward people with money they create.
Are you beginning to get the picture? All the powers are integrated and reinforce each other. Instead of building a Frankenstein, you’ll be building a dream — a thriving contracting business you really can run with less stress and more success.
This article was originally titled “Mastering your business” in the July 2016 print edition of Plumbing & Mechanical.