Something New Josh Bachman As a kid, I absolutely loved Legos. Specifically, I loved the Space Legos—rockets, moon landers, space stations. If they could blast me off this Earth and start my space odyssey, I had to have them! One year my well-intentioned family bought me a City Lego set, and I found myself at a juvenile crossroads. How do I incorporate a city hall in the middle of my Mars outpost? Do I even need a fire station on Saturn? As restoration professionals I feel as though we often find ourselves in a similar situation when it comes to our software systems and the flashy new products that are brought to market seemingly week in and week out. How do we find time to filter through the options, incorporate a new platform into our existing system, and settle on the right package that will set our company up for the future growth we are working so diligently toward? Here are a few suggestions from my own experience that you may find useful in your journey. Stop looking for perfection. I’m going to break it to you right now: the perfect software package does not exist, at least not yet.
How do you fix employee performance? As a business advisor in the restoration industry, the most common frustration I hear from clients is dealing with underperforming employees. Since we know the first step to solid problem resolution is clearly defining the problem, let’s take a look at the three reasons I’ve discovered for poor performing employees. Once the reasons are defined, we’ll be able to consider steps to repair the problem. 3 Reasons for Bad Employees Reason 1: Lack of Hiring, Training, and/or Expectations The first reason we don’t get what we expect from employees can be broken down into three distinct parts, and its origins go all the way back to the quality of your recruiting and hiring process. We need to look at the employee’s qualifications. Put simply, does the employee have the education and experience to perform the job they are currently occupying? A hospital wouldn’t hire an electrician to be the Chief of Neurosurgery, nor would they hire a neurosurgeon to be an electrician. Neither has the background, education, or possibly even the aptitude to do the other’s job. The second part is this: did we provide the proper training to help the employee succeed in
Chris McQueen Put away the instruction manual on how to manage millennials. These workers and their successors are in the trades, purchasing businesses, and smart enough to ask for help. They are at the beginning stages of being your peers and while some will accomplish business success quickly, others will struggle for many years until they reach a breakthrough, perhaps not unlike yourself. The Restoration Industry: Where it Was As a restorer in the 80s, 90s, and 00s, you helped the younger generations gain data quicker than they could have on their own. Many restorers who have been in business for 30 plus years will testify that the days of cheap dehumidifiers, enough fans to pop breakers, and seven-day dry times with no monitoring are gone. The industry simply did not have enough data at the onset to say when something would be “dry.” Now most restorers, even when not necessary, provide daily moisture readings and adjustments to the equipment that justify their dry times. Point after point and job after job, the data is being collected and all of us know more. The result is that restorers spend hours debating how to tell which category a job is, how
Complacency The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word complacency as self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies. They must have had business owners in mind when they wrote that. After the long run of good fortune that many small businesses have enjoyed, I continue to warn against falling victim to our own success by becoming complacent. The enemy of success in business isn’t failure, it’s COMPLACENCY. It’s when we get soft or lose our drive or competitive edge that we get into trouble. It seems the more successful we become, the more guarded we need to be about becoming complacent. To make matters worse, complacency rarely announces itself. Instead, it very subtly inserts itself when we’re not paying attention. And one of the most troubling forms of it is the complacency of thought. We stop challenging ourselves to think differently, to explore the personal and professional weaknesses that make us uncomfortable, to look for blind spots, or to question our assumptions about our success. Complacency with our success or with the status quo can easily lead to three other conditions that can set a company on the path to stalling: lack of innovation, lack of market
How Can You Be the Best Service-Based Company? A lesson in excellence I’m not easily impressed by service companies. In fact, after being disappointed in the way most service companies perform, I’ve come to expect very little. However, I recently had the opportunity to do business with a company every service-based operation should consider copying. This company was the model of the type of professionalism, quality, and consistency you just wish every company would emulate. On top of that, they were the least expensive option available, which is odd, because I NEVER go with the lowest bidder (just as a matter of principle). What’s also interesting is that I knew these guys would perform right from the start. Let’s back up. The company I’m referring to applies epoxy coatings to concrete floors. You know—the type of coatings neat freaks like me have applied to their garage floors just because. After all, you wouldn’t want to park your 1984 Yugo on just any floor, right?! I’ve either epoxied or had someone else epoxy every garage floor I’ve had for the past twenty-five years. At one time, I actually decided it would be a good idea for the restoration business I owned to offer this service, so I happen to
TRANSITIONS, PART III For years, my counsel to clients who were undertaking a significant initiative in their business—increasing sales, hiring or discharging a key worker, adding a new service, or making the heart-stopping leap from a smaller boat to a larger one—was to expect some things to fall apart. While I didn’t fully understand the underlying reasons for this at the time, I knew it almost always happened. I now realize this is what William Bridges calls a period of confusion and distress and what spiritual leader Richard Rohr writes about in his book Falling Upward. Transitioning is a process. It is growth on the part of a CEO as they become more aware of the impermanence of everything around them. It’s part of the natural order of things in business and in life. But it’s a part that many people struggle with. Transitioning is not an event that only happens at the end of a career. While a successful transition of business leadership may be a CEO’s final act of greatness, it certainly isn’t the only one. Perhaps the biggest transition experienced by many leaders of a growing business is one that takes place under the radar of most
TRANSITIONS, PART I Returning to author William Bridges, he writes, “…one of the most important transitions that is likely to take place in a person’s work life sometime after the age of forty: the transition from being motivated by the chance to demonstrate competence to being motivated by the chance to find personal meaning in the work and its results. It is the shift from the question of how to the question of why.” The idea of demonstrating competence goes much deeper than just exhibiting the ability to perform a task well. It also includes the emotional rewards we receive when demonstrating our competence to competitors, colleagues, or social networks. These emotional rewards help satisfy our need to find personal meaning, however we define it. The role of an effective business founder is in a constant state of transition from the day we start our company. Some of the transitions are minor, like hiring our first worker, remodeling our store or plant, or assimilating our largest new customer. Others can be major transitions that accompany things like changing careers, taking on or losing a partner, or attempting to fully embrace the role of “manager” rather than “doer.” (In my opinion,
TRANSITIONS, PART I A while back, I wrote a Monday Morning Notes series entitled “Sailboats, Yachts, and Tall-Masted Ships.” In the article I used various sizes of sailing vessels as a metaphor to explain the transitions a business experiences as it grows. It starts out small, similar to a recreational sailboat cruising around a lake on a Saturday afternoon, and ends up as a mighty, tall-masted ship sailing the oceans. I explored some of the challenges a business owner and their team experience as their company grows, much like the captain and crew of the various size sailing vessels experience as the boats they sail increase in size. I explained how cash and the wind play similar roles as motive forces for moving a business or a sailboat forward, and how important it is to attract and keep the right people depending on the size business or boat. While I explored these changes from the physical aspects of transitioning from one boat to another—the money, people, and competitors for example—I didn’t delve into the psychological or emotional aspects experienced by the captain and crew. As business owners we often think of transitioning as something that happens toward the end of