Competition | Pro-active Sales | Operational Systems | Investments
Trait #5 – Set your company apart from your competition!
When I drive down the freeway and see contractors’ trucks, they often have signs on like: “Joe’s Electric – Commercial, Industrial & Residential.” I chuckle and ask myself: “What do they excel at, what kind of jobs are they the expert in, and why should I hire them?” Based on my experience working with tens of thousands of contractors, my best guess is they chase any kind of work they can get and don’t make a lot of money doing it.
Are you in the “Yes” Business taking any kind of job or project thrown your way? Experience shows that companies who specialize in a specific type of project or service do better work, are more competitive, have more loyal customers, and make a lot more money than their “jack of all trades” competitors. Perceived experts are the first called when a customer needs a professional to complete a tough or special project. Experts get the first chance to propose on jobs which require complex engineering or technical knowledge.
To set your company apart from your competition and get hired at higher prices, you must be the perceived expert in your market and offer more than your competitors. According to a survey from the Society of Marketing Professional Services (a national association of construction sales and marketing professionals), the top two reasons construction companies don’t get awarded projects are 1) Their inability to market and properly present the differences between themselves and their competition, and 2) Their lack of expertise in a particular project or service niche. When you continue to be and do everything for everyone, you won’t have enough time to satisfy your customers and you can’t make enough money for all the different types of work you attempt to complete.
Trait #6 – Install a pro-active sales and marketing program!
There are many ways to improve your profit margin. These include cutting costs, reducing overhead, improving field productivity, accurate estimating, making no field mistakes, and having an excellent training program. All of these will give you small improvements in your bottom-line, but not enough collectively to make a significant difference.
The easiest way to make more money is to create it! Profit starts with revenue. The more profitable revenue, the more bottom-line profit. Revenue comes from customers. To make more profit, develop more profitable customers. Are customers your #1 priority? Do you have a written sales and marketing plan that delivers a consistent flow of loyal customers, profitable revenue, and new customers? While doing good work is important, it will not deliver the revenue you need to become a great company. You also need a pro-active sales and marketing program that constantly attacks customers, generates inquiries, gathers referrals, seeks new business opportunities, and gets potential customers to only call your company when they need your product or service.
Trait # 7 – Replace yourself with operational systems!
A systemized business produces consistent performance and the same results every time. How much money are you losing relying on your people to do their best without standardized written operational systems and ongoing training? When your employees and customers rely on you to make sure everything is done right, you get stuck at the level of what you can control.
Great companies have and maintain written systems and procedures for all employees to follow. To organize and systemize your company requires time to get everyone doing business the same way. But the end result is worth it. Systems will allow your company to be the best in what you do and allow your company to grow. To make it happen, you’ll have to dedicate the resources to put all of your important work processes in writing and create a “DO” manual of pictures, checklists, and guidelines for your employees to follow.
Trait #8 – Seek investments to build equity and wealth!
The outward indicator of a great company is steady growth and profitability year after year. Every new entrepreneurial company that becomes great should create enough significant excess profits within the first five to seven years to start seeking wealth building investments. Wealth building investments deliver positive cash-flow without much effort or attention like real estate properties, joint ventures, or stock ownership.
If you can’t find enough annual profit leftover to invest, perhaps you need to change how you do business. Companies that continually struggle generating profits and never seem to get ahead, can’t become great. For whatever reason, these owners have decided to shortcut most of the traits required to be great. Often these companies struggle for decades as they are run by owners who shoot from the hip and manage by the seat of their pants. These poorly run companies ruin it for the great companies by charging too little, doing the minimum to get by, providing no training for their employees, and delivering less than expected by their customers.
It’s not too late to be great. The choice is yours. What you do and the decisions you make deliver the results you get and determine your future. Not making enough profit? Not growing fifteen to twenty percent per year? No money left-over to invest? Take a look in the mirror. Take a hard look at how you do business. Look at your people and organizational chart. Look at your company systems. Look at what sets you apart from your competition. Look at your profitability and focus on finances. Do whatever it takes to figure it out. Hire a business coach or a new general manager or controller or director of business development. Stop postponing your potential, install all of the eight great traits, and your company will become great.