Is Blogging Still Important for My Contracting Business

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I am going to be a bit different on this blog post this week. I have created a short 9 minute podcast answering the question, “Is Blogging Still Important” as we move into 2015. I found it much easier to communicate using audio this time around. I hope you find this post helpful as you wrap up 2014 and plan for the next year.

Download: Is Blogging Still Important Podcast

How Do You Motivate Your Team? An Interview with Kevin Nolan

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Exploring the Ideas of Accountability, Reward, and Response

We as human beings respond to things. 

I know. That sounds like an incredibly simplistic statement, but when you slow down and think about it, it’s also incredibly powerful. As business owners and managers, you have an opportunity to draw specific responses from your team by the way you lead, manage, delegate, and encourage. As marketers (and we are all marketers in a way!), we strive to elicit a certain response from those who read our materials, find our websites, or explore our reputations.

The trick is to find just the right key to unlock the response you’re looking for.

Lead in a Way that Calls for a Certain Response

When you think of “incentives” and “motivation”, one of the go-to strategies is to involve some sort of raise in pay, or bonus. That certainly has its place, but let’s dig a little deeper.

The response of increased involvement, motivation, and productivity is not inextricably tangled up in your pay scale alone, but also comes as a direct result of your leadership and management style. Do not be afraid to ask for more, and to let your team take ownership of their own work. And, most importantly, provide encouragement, focus, goals, vision, and follow-through.

A well-known saying tells us: “You get what you inspect, not what you expect.” Setting up a system of accountability and encouragement will go a long way to draw a positive response.

kevin-nolanHow Kevin Nolan Built a Custom Home in Fewer than 5 Months

Last month, I had the chance to spend a day with Kevin Nolan, owner of one of the largest and most highly-respected residential paint companies in the U.S. A couple of years ago, I heard he bought a piece of property and was going to build a custom wood home in record time. If there is anyone who jumps to mind when it comes to meeting goals, it is Kevin. Because of this I knew it could be done, but I wondered how he would accomplish such a daunting task. He was kind enough to talk with me about how he did what was said to be impossible: building his dream home from start to finish in just under 5 months! It’s a study of not just construction, but of how to grab a process by the horns and draw the response he needed from everyone involved. By the way, I finally got to visit the finished (and beautiful) home and have included a few of the before, during and after photos in this post below.

Kevin:  I decided to be my own general contractor (GC) so I could have control over how quickly I could build my house. I did hire a GC to act as a consultant. We met once a week and we decided what had to happen next. I used some of his contractors to perform some functions and some of my own contractors to perform others. Naturally it took a lot of planning.We had to order materials in a timely manner and make quick decisions on things. 

David: How long did it take to build your home?

Kevin: Technically 4 months, 3 weeks from groundbreaking to move in.

David: How did you come up with that timeframe and why did you think it could be done?

Kevin: We were in a race to get in before the holidays. We had our two sons coming home from college and no place for them to stay.  We were living in a dilapidated old house on the property that had no heat and no water. Later we demolished the old house.

David: How did you get the trades to work for you and get the job done on time? How did you motivate them?

Kevin: I told them upfront that I would pay them immediately after they gave me an invoice. I also made decisions fast. I offered them bonuses for meeting or beating the schedule. They all took advantage of it. My general contractor friend said I could never build it in 5 months, but we beat that by a week. Late nights and weekends allowed the project to move double-time.

David: In your opinion, how can a painting company or builder motivate his/her employees to hit or exceed goals? You had mentioned to me about your son and how productive he has been working at Nolan Painting. 

Kevin: I am a big believer in laying out clear goals and timelines and offering bonuses to people to hit them. We call it Pay For Performance (PFP). As long as a goal is reasonable and there is an incentive to hit the goal on time or early, most people will put in the extra effort. It is in everybody’s best interest to hit the goal. We PFP for our management team, office staff and  field supernal. It drives a culture of accountability and reward.

By the way, I will mention that not only did Kevin build his home in 4 months and 3 weeks, but he also still managed the affairs at Nolan Painting on a daily basis without missing a beat. It is truly amazing to walk through Nolan’s office and observe his hardworking staff.

Taking a Genuine Interest in Your Team Builds a Culture of Success

I hope the brief interview above has stirred up a few ideas about how you can encourage and motivate your team in 2015. I sure was inspired this fall by my visit to Nolan Painting. Kevin is truly a remarkable businessman who gets things done. Yet there was one key takeaway I learned this time around after my discussion about his home and the crews working for him: he is genuinely interested in their success. Kevin motivates, pushes hard, and sets high expectations because he believes that he has great people working for him that can meet and exceed those expectations. I can tell he truly has a heart and passion for people and wants to see Nolan Painting succeed without his ongoing involvement.

Kevin, thank you again for allowing me to write this blog and spending a bit of your busy Wednesday with me. Since I first met you almost 15 years ago, I have always come away learning something new that challenges me!

Using Base CRM for a Seasonal Business

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This fall (2014), I helped a seasonal Christmas lighting company setup and manage a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) that I use and like: Base CRM. I have been working with them since 2008. In previous years, the company used several different methods to manage leads and sales ranging from Google Apps, Dropbox, Highrise CRM, Zoho and a few others. Yet there was really nothing that really quite worked well until we implemented Base. Each year the company’s leads have grown making it that much more crucial to track and manage the sales process. Here are a couple of the highlights of how a seasonal business is using a CRM and why it is working so well. Read More

Why Do I Blog?

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The first business blog I wrote for a business was from May 31, 2006. I was working for my father’s painting company, Chism Brothers Painting, at the time. I really did not know much about blogging when I wrote my first post. I knew enough to know it was a good thing to do, and I was one of the first painters to give it a try. I had not heard of content marketing or best practices in blogging or really anything. I just knew I had to start putting quality and helpful information on my website and hope consumers would agree that they liked my post.  Read More

Taking Your Online Reputation Seriously

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I Am Impressed with My Clients

bad review

The review above has another side of the story to this too!

There are a lot of negative vibes online these days, and I believe we largely have review sites to thank for this. Companies today are plagued with 1 and 2-star ratings, typically from people who have overly demanding expectations. If you forget to return a phone call, chances are, sooner or later, you’ll be receiving a low-star rating on a site like Yelp. Yet, if you do a good job and serve the customer well, it is very difficult to get consumers to write a positive review on their own. Typically, they will only do this if a company went above and beyond their high expectations. If you have a reliable and quality service company, you are likely going to receive a few good reviews and a couple of poor ones just for being human. Read More

A Few of My Favorite Apps for My iPhone

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I thought it was time to share a screenshot of my iPhone to help those of you who are wondering what apps I use and why. I use my iPhone and iPad primarily for business and a little pleasure. I rarely play any games, so you’ll notice my main screen is mostly for business with a few personal apps sprinkled in too. The most-used apps you’ll find at the very bottom. The ones at the very top are the second most-used, with the ones in the middle getting used a little less. All other apps are on the second screen, which I’ve not included in this blog. Those are all misc. apps that I use from time to time or am testing out. I can easily access them through the iOS Spotlight menu when I need them.  Read More

Should You Fire Your Business Coach?

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Business-ConsultingWorking Out

Note: Last November, I joined a 3-day a week intense workout program (12 weeks) at a BJJ & MMA studio called Clinch Academy. I sort of went into it thinking I’d do the 3 month challenge and go back to my old routine of light exercise when I had the time! One of the reasons I had to do something is that I was not doing much physical exercise. I was playing basketball 1-2 times a week and that was about it. It was around that time, just before I joined, that my blood pressure was quite a bit higher than normal. I was told by the doc, “You’ve got to do a bit more exercise.”

As I write this, I am finishing my 10th month at Clinch and still enjoying every class, 3 days a week. It did not take me very long to realize that for me, I had to stay at Clinch. I could not quit and go back to my old way of life. I knew that without my coach following up on how I was doing, I would not be successful. Oh, maybe for a time, but I know myself. I knew where I’d head after a few weeks. I am the type of guy who needs a coach. It has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done, and it  has helped me in more ways than just staying fit. I am more alert and focused in my business too. Read More

Early Thoughts on iPhone 6 and Software Updates

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ios-adcAs I write this, we are awaiting the arrival of Apple’s latest and greatest iOS 8 upgrade. This will happen in about 1 week (September 17th or 19th). I’ve been testing iOS 8 for the past 3 months and really like it. The best part about iOS 8 over the current version is yet to come. What I mean is that iOS 8 is supposed to be the best update for iOS developers. Apple has supposedly made it much easier for developers to create far greater features than ever before. If this is true, business users of the iPhone and iPad can expect some updates as early as this fall that will hopefully blow you all away! I’m keeping my fingers crossed! Read More

Will Having a Nicer Looking Website Bring Me More Leads?

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Responsive Websites

If I told you my website was based on Responsive Design, some of you might actually know what I was talking about more this year than last year. It is a fairly new way to design a website. Those of you who do not know what Responsive Website Design is just yet, I’ll explain. In short, a responsive website basically means the website can be displayed on most computers, tablets and mobile device screens. In other words, it responds and adapts to the screen of the end user. Before responsive coding, most websites had at least two web designs: one for the desktop and a mobile site. The more companies find out about a responsive design, the more they want their own websites redesigned. Why not! It is new. It is hip. It is cool and it just looks better! So the question I’ll answer in this post is this: “If I create a brand new, top of the line website today, does this mean I can expect more leads to come pouring in soon?” Read More

30 Year Employees Don’t Exist Anymore

Posted by | Small Biz Talk, The Obvious | No Comments

always-growing-blogAlways Be Recruiting

The number one problem I have been hearing about from clients this year is not a lack of leads. No, leads have been strong across the U.S. The problem has been a lack of good people. I have actually been asked if I can provide recruiting services, not marketing! If you do need help finding good help, I would recommend contacting my friends at Summit Services. They provide headhunting services for estimators, office staff and, I believe, help with hiring field employees too. Read More

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