The Pink Elephant in the Room
It is certainly an unprecedented time in the trades (as it is everywhere else in the world). HVAC, indoor air quality, home performance and other home services contractors across the United States are seeing all sorts of changes driven by the pandemic, the economy, weather, technology, customers, etc.
We have all been impacted by the recent events. However, I want to take a moment to acknowledge anyone who has been impacted medically or lost someone to the disease. Also, I want to give thanks to EVERYONE who has stepped to serve and help others in any capacity. Even home service contractors are now deemed what I call “Essential Life Sustaining and Enhancing Services.” You are all HEROES.
James Lane Allen, Novelist, said: “Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.”
Adverse conditions can reveal a business’s strengths, weaknesses, and lack of strengths. I distinguish between weaknesses and lack of strengths because they are vastly different. A weakness is a flaw in the way a business operates. A lack of strength is a gap in how a business operates. In other words, think in terms of a skill you know but have not yet mastered (weakness) versus a skill you have not yet learned (lack of strength). These are important distinctions, so you know how to allocate resources to solve problems at their core. Adversity will also reveal the true character of a business’s leaders.
The glaring issue many contractors are facing right now is navigating turbulent times they may be experiencing perceivably created by the pandemic. I say perceivably created by the pandemic, because the original thought of what you think the problem is in any situation is typically just a symptom and not the root cause. To CURE any problem permanently, you must treat root causes, not symptoms.
You Either Make Excuses or You Are Empowered
Contractors and their coworkers are some of the most caring and hardworking people on the planet (and their families often make endless sacrifices), yet often do not get the rewards they deserve for their efforts. That’s sad, a shame, and easily correctable.
As a consultant, trainer, coach, and software developer for contractors, the biggest problem I see contractors face is themselves. While most contractors may be good at what they do as a craft, many lack the business acumen to achieve a commensurate amount of success. And when adversity strikes, many suffer not because of the symptom of the moment, but rather the root cause that existed long before adverse conditions reared their ugly head.
As Malcom Forbes said: “When things are bad, we take comfort in the thought they could always get worse. And when they are, we find hope in the thought that things are so bad they have to get better.”
Things could always be worse. As long as you are breathing and have a beating heart, you have an opportunity to make things better. You do not have a problem. The people on the other side of the grass 6 feet under have problems they can do nothing about.
Congratulations! Since you are reading this article, you have an opportunity, my friends. To save us both time I am going to give you the same tough love I give my clients. You need to quit making excuses and saying you were obLIvious for not seeing the obvious. That is the “LI” you tell yourself because you did not deal with a pre-existing condition or you do not have the tools, processes, people, etc. in place to be aware.
Either way, there is no excuse.
The problem is not the problem, it is your thoughts about the problem that determine if you respond or react. All outcomes are 10% event and 90% your response to the event. And do not get me started with the excuse of not knowing HOW to solve a problem. DO NOT let the tyranny of HOW paralyze you from acting. It is only another excuse. Any goal or problem-resolution is 20% mechanics and 80% psychology.
Leadership Lights the Way
You cannot operate and optimize for abundance and expansion from a place of fear and contraction. Fear and contraction come from reaction to outside stimuli. Expansion and abundance come from creation. You cannot be in creation mode when you are in reaction mode. The only difference in the two words is that the ‘C’ is hidden in the word reaCtion and you “C” it clearly at the front of the word Creation. Your problem is you do not “C” when you are reacting, so you are not creating the outcome you desire.
As the Rolling Stones sang: “Time is on your side.” Take a leadership role NOW and revisit the foundational elements of your business. Is your vision, mission, core values, organizational chart structure, detailed job descriptions, and culture positioned to drive success, even in adversity? Do you have adequate internal financial controls, capital and cash reserves, reports and optics to understand business performance and proper pricing structure for each department? Have you addressed the operational weakness and gaps in your business? How current and accurate are the processes and procedures that ensure consistency in performance and get employees reporting out versus leadership having to check in? Where do the deficiencies of knowledge, execution, communication and accountability exist in your business? Even the best businesses can be better.
Review all the above areas every year. This year the torpedo was a pandemic. What is the next torpedo? Build your business to sustain multiple torpedo hits. Otherwise, the results are self-inflicted wounds, stagnation, low revenues and profitability, layoffs, contraction, liquidation, and possible bankruptcy.
By building a better business, you may find that when adversity strikes next time (and it most certainly will), you will not only survive, but you can thrive. You will be able to expand when others contract. You will experience abundance while others experience scarcity and loss. If you choose to continue as you are, you may become obsolete or extinct fare sooner than you would like. The pace of change and external forces will likely only accelerate and increase in intensity. Be prepared.
Be the leader your business needs and deserves. Be the leader that lights the way in adversity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Drew Cameron, America’s Most Sought After Sales & Marketing Strategy Adviser to Home Services Contractors, is president of HVAC Sellutions & Energy Design Systems, Inc.; the premier alliance providing industry-leading marketing planning, budgeting, content and support; sales recruiting, education, coaching, consulting and performance enhancement for Home Services Contractors; and design and economic analysis sales software for HVAC and Home Performance companies. Drew’s 40 years of experience in all facets of running a residential contracting business helps contractors implement effective lead development strategies and build multi-million-dollar profit-generating home services companies. Drew is a renowned author, educator, coach, consultant, inspirational/educational/”irritational” speaker, software developer, industry philanthropist, and a Tom McCart International Consultant Award Winner as well as a Board member, a Foundation Board Trustee, and a Contractor University Founder & Faculty member for Electric & Gas industries Association (EGIA); a Service Roundtable Consult & Coach Partner & Preferred Vendor; and an Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) member.