Contractor Corner

We’re getting closer and closer to the holiday season and the start of a new year—and with it, a flurry of “resolutions.” If you run a plumbing, electrical, or HVAC company, though, you don’t have to wait until the new year in order to adopt some healthy habits. In this post, we’ll list five steps you can take today to position your business for greater success.

Set Specific Goals

Simply put, you can’t succeed unless you first define what success means. So what would it take for you to feel like your company was on the right track? That you were accomplishing what you set out to accomplish? Set specific and measurable goals, both for the near term and the long-term. Six-month, one-year, three-year, and even 10-year goals can be helpful.

Get Better at Delegating

Statistics show that many small business owners burn out early—and home services entrepreneurs are no exception. One of the leading factors in burnout is the way in which business owners take on too much, feeling like they have to do everything themselves. The reality is, you hired people, presumably for a reason—so give them some opportunities to step up and take on new responsibilities.

Develop Your Support Network

Being a small business owner can be lonely. Airing your frustrations to your spouse can help, but you don’t want to spend your entire home life grumbling about work. That’s why it’s important to have other business owners you can talk with. Go to local business networking events and try to forge connections; additionally, consider the value in hiring a business coach.

Find Your Niche

One of the critical factors in business success is knowing what makes you unique. Maybe your customers find your company to have the best customer service in town. Maybe you have the most competitive prices. Or maybe you’re especially gifted in a specific area, like drain cleaning or water heater installation. Whatever your unique value proposition is, hone in on it; make it central to your marketing efforts and your branding.

Look for Ways to Reduce Overhead

One more thing you can do is be alert to overhead creep. Look for areas where your monthly costs have gone up, or for supplies you can get elsewhere at a discounted rate. Overhead creep happens to most businesses sooner or later, and the best safeguard you have is vigilance.

These are just a few of the ways in which you can position your company for ongoing success—but of course, this list just scratches the surface. We’d love to look under the hood of your business and show you some additional ways you can improve processes and increase profits. Learn more by reaching out to Contractor in Charge today.

Most home services companies have at least some area competition; you may be one of the top plumbers in your town, for instance, but you’re probably not the only plumber in town. Having a little competition can have its advantages, but of course there are drawbacks: Not only do you cede a little market share, but you also run the risk of losing your best employees.

Certainly, the last thing you want is for all your top technicians or front office staff members to jump ship and go work for the competition—but how do you make them stay?

The short answer is that you can’t, and the sooner you realize that the better. Your job isn’t to force anyone to remain on your team and trying to do so may backfire.

With that said, there are some practical ways in which you can boost retention and give your best people a reason to stay.

Boosting Retention at Your Home Services Company

Some strategies to consider include:

  1. Be an active listener. Employees need to feel like they’re heard, whether it’s because they have constructive feedback for you or they have ideas they want you to consider. Note that you don’t actually have to act on every idea that comes your way but do be willing to receive them! Have an open-door policy and respect each employee enough to sit down and hear their ideas.
  2. Don’t be punitive. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. When an employee falls short of the mark, that doesn’t mean you need to punish them. Frankly, that’s a good way to send them scurrying. Instead, sit down and ask them to help diagnose the problem: What went wrong, and what could be done differently next time? Treat them like grown-ups and allow them some ownership in whatever issues arise.
  3. Invest in education. Show your team members that you care about them—and not just about what they can do for you now, but about their development as professionals. When possible, invest in ongoing training opportunities for your people. Let them know that you want them to be the best they can be.
  4. Show your employees the big picture. What’s your overarching goal? What do you hope your company can do, and how do you hope that it can grow, over the year? Let your team members know what your hopes and dreams are and tell them where they fit into your vision. Your employees need to believe they are part of something bigger than themselves.

Will any of this guarantee that your top performers stay with you? No—but it can certainly be helpful. Implement these strategies to boost retention and reach out to Contractor in Charge to learn more about growing your plumbing, electrical, or HVAC company.

For many business owners, email can seem old-hat. It’s certainly not as flashy or as exciting as social media, yet it continues to be a key driver of consumer engagement. Indeed, many marketers still believe email marketing to be the most effective form of digital outreach—and it’s something you can use to get more jobs for your home service company.

It’s important to be strategic in your email marketing strategy, however. Here are five ways in which you can improve the effectiveness of your marketing emails.

Ensure Mobile Optimization

The first thing you need to understand is that your customers may not be reading your emails from a desktop computer. In fact, it’s statistically more likely that they’re getting your emails on their mobile device. As such, it’s important that they can easily read your emails without having to do a lot of scrolling or zooming. Double and triple check that the email marketing platform you use is mobile-optimized, ensuring your messages are easy to read on any device.

Catch Their Attention

The most important part of any email message is the subject line—because without a compelling subject, the message will never be opened or read! Hook your customers with a compelling subject line. Some tips:

  • Keep it brief—seven or eight words is usually enough.
  • Include value; show your readers what they can expect to benefit from opening the email (whether that’s knowledge or some sort of discount).
  • Avoid words that will trigger spam filters; salesy terms like “sale,” “free,” and so forth may end up getting your emails tossed out.

Deliver Something Valuable

Always ask yourself this question: What’s in it for the reader? In other words, how will your customers benefit from taking the time to read your email? Every message you send should contain value, just like we mentioned above—either some useful tips/guidelines (such as home plumbing advice) or discounts/special offers.

Include a Call to Action

You want your emails to be fairly brief—100 to 200 words at the very most—but even in your brevity, make sure to include a strong call to action. Urge readers to call you and schedule an appointment today, and provide all the necessary contact information.

Experiment with Timing

This may surprise you, but the time you send your emails can be a big factor in how successful those emails are. Experiment by sending emails at different times of the day, and use your email marketing platform to monitor results. Find the window when your customers are likely to open and view your messages.

Make Every Message Count

Many home service companies find great success through email marketing, staying in touch with their customers and encouraging repeat business. If your marketing emails haven’t moved the sales needle yet, don’t give up! Some simple tweaks can make your approach much more successful.

Learn more about increasing business for your service trade. Reach out to Contractor in Charge today.

In home services companies, it can sometimes feel as though you have two different teams working under one roof—your front office staff and your field technicians. These employees may have limited time together, but even so, it’s important that they get along well. Tension between these two groups can be detrimental to morale, productivity, and employee retention.

But what can you do to ensure these two units gel together as one cohesive team? Here are a few suggestions.

Start with Empathy and Respect

First of all, your team members need to respect one another—and that means being able to see the value in each other’s work. If there’s a sense that your front office folks sit around in big cushy chairs all day, or that the field technicians are just out there doing grunt work, tension is bound to flare up.

So what can you do to help employees see the value in each other? One thing you can do is to always very intentionally state the ways in which each team member contributes to the big picture; make it clear to employees the ways in which front office and field team members further your company’s goals.

An even more radical step would be arranging for some ride-alongs or shadowing opportunities—allowing office personnel to walk a mile in the field technicians’ shoes, and vice versa.

Avoid the Blame Game

Lack of respect is one thing that tears teams apart. Another is the blame game.

When things go wrong, it’s natural to want to point the finger at someone else—yet blame is rarely one-sided, and even if it is, pointing the finger doesn’t solve anything. The important thing is accepting both failures and triumphs together, as a team.

In terms of practical advice, you can lead by example. Own up to your failures, and never jump into the blame game yourself. And, if employees start finger pointing, gently remind them that what really matters is working together to make things right.

Address the Malcontents

One more thing you can do is be proactive in addressing employees who are frustrated or dissatisfied. Here’s why it matters: Malcontented employees tend to vent to their co-workers, and that can cause their bad attitude to spread.

Instead, you want them to express their frustrations to you. Regular employee satisfaction surveys can help. In addition, you can make it clear to employees that you’re always around to listen to their concerns—and that you won’t penalize them for voicing their frustrations. Again, you want them coming to you, not to their colleagues.

With these tips, you can start to create a real sense of camaraderie between your employees—even those whose daily experiences are quite diverse.

And as always, if you’d like to talk more about ways to build a stronger home services company, we’re here for you! Reach out to Contractor in Charge at your next convenience.

Hiring a new team member can be a lengthy process, involving both great time and expense. As such, it’s only natural that you’d want to see that effort flourish, and your new hire succeed in your company over the long term.

That’s what the onboarding process is all about—training new hires and preparing them for ongoing contributions to the team. An effective onboarding process gives new employees the foundation they need to add value and to find satisfaction in their work. A lackluster onboarding process can have the opposite effect; in fact, poor onboarding is a leading cause of employee turnover.

If you’ve found that you have a hard time recruiting new team members who really contribute to the team, and who invest in the company over the long haul, it could be your onboarding process that’s to blame. In this post, we’ll recommend three simple changes that can make your onboarding efforts much more effective.

How to Improve Your Onboarding

  1. Assign each new hire a mentor. Even if you don’t have a formal mentorship program in place at your home services company, it’s wise to provide each new hire with a more senior team member who they can go to with any questions or concerns—particularly matters they may not feel comfortable bringing up with their boss. Rather than allowing new hires to feel adrift, pair each one with someone who can offer guidance and clarity as needed.
  2. Give them real work to do from day one. There is sometimes a tendency to give new hires “practice” assignments—but this often just amounts to busywork. That’s not what new hires want. What they want is to contribute, put them on projects where they can do meaningful work.
  3. Don’t overwhelm them with bureaucracy. Every company needs to have the occasional team meeting sometimes, or to get together to handle some administrative stuff—but those tasks can cause new hires to burn out early. As best as you can, excuse them from meetings and huddles and allow them to simply focus on practicing their skills.

With these tips, you can provide a firm foundation for new hires, and allow them to better acclimate to your team’s rhythms from day one.

It’s critically important to get the onboarding process right, and to protect the investment you make in new employees. To learn more about key HR functions within a home services setting, reach out to the experts at Contractor in Charge today.

One of the most essential workplace benefits is paid time off. Most employers offer their full-time, salaried team members some days away from the office; however, the way you structure these days is important.

Historically, many companies have offered time off in two distinct categories—vacation days and sick days. But today, more and more businesses are moving toward a single pool of days that employees can use at their discretion—PTO days.

For many home services companies, this pooled approach can make a lot of sense—and for a few different reasons.

PTO Helps with Planning

We all know what a headache it can be when employees call in sick at the last minute, and a substitute has to be found on the fly.

When you switch from sick days/vacation days to a single pool of PTO, you may find that this happens less and less.

That’s because PTO days are planned out in advance, not at the last minute—and the employee who wants to take a mental health break, or to have a day to run errands or go to appointments, will likely request that PTO with plenty of advance warning, as opposed to claiming a “sick day” at the last minute.

Employees Prefer PTO

Another consideration is that the majority of employees really like this pooled PTO policy—especially those who don’t typically need a lot of sick days and would prefer to use this time for long weekends or vacations.

This is especially true of younger workers; when you’re hiring people in their 20s, they’re probably a lot more concerned with having work-life balance than they are with having numerous sick days in the bank. Having a more flexible PTO policy can help with morale as well as retention.

Updating Your Approach to PTO

Switching to a new PTO policy isn’t without its challenges; it may even require a change to your payroll system. But for most companies in the home services industry, the change is worth it. In the long run, it can have a positive impact on scheduling, absenteeism, and employee morale.

Do you have any questions about how to implement a new PTO policy? We’d love to talk with you about any of your home services business needs. Reach out to the team at Contractor in Charge and let’s start a conversation!