Siegal: Five Ideas That Fit the Times

by Kyle Clapham

Five columns among the dozens I’ve written over the last several years stand out as being particularly apt for the times we are managing through. In no particular order, they involve: the importance of offering financing; the critical importance of developing a sense of purpose at your company; how to hire correctly; empowerment; and the importance of quality input when managing through changes.

We Don’t Take Cash

In today’s increasingly digital world, it’s more important than ever for contractors to offer financing. A lot of contractors, especially smaller ones, don’t offer financing to their customers. They leave it to the homeowner to figure out how to pay for the project. Sometimes that’s a credit card. Sometimes it’s a check.

Of course, many contractors do offer financing—or they think they do. They have programs with financing companies. But contractors can hardly be said to making the best use of them. The thought of the fees—anywhere from 3 percent to as much as 12 percent—discourages contractors from being aggressive about it.

What’s the solution? Consider how you price a job. There’s the cost of materials, the cost of labor, the cost of selling it, and the fixed and variable overhead. All that goes into the price because without any one of those components, there wouldn’t be a sale. Why shouldn’t the cost of financing be part of what you charge?
— Originally published Dec. 6, 2018

What We Do

I learned through trial-and-error that money and profit aren’t the point of having a business. To attract customers and get employees aligned going in the same direction, your business needs to be about something else.

What you stand for is the brand; a mission statement supports the brand. We came up with this: “We stand for providing top-quality roofing products and long-term growth for employees.”

We decided top-quality materials and creating the opportunity for employee growth was our mission, and that our brand was providing a better customer experience than anyone else in the market.

When we committed to this process about 13 years ago, our referral rate was 15 percent. Today, it’s tracking 48 percent.
Originally published Oct. 12, 2018

Your Next Hire

Planning to hire someone next year? Unless someone unexpectedly leaves your organization, your next hire will probably be undertaken as part of the plan for future business growth.

The whole residential construction industry finds itself short of people and scrambling to recruit. Hiring is something contractors need to know. It’s just not as simple as it used to be.

What we are doing now is going on social media—via platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook—and looking for people who already have jobs but might be interested in moving to another company for a new or better opportunity. People are responding because they’re always looking for new opportunities.
— Originally published Dec. 8, 2017

How the Business Can Run Itself

Before they own a business, people think the business will someday run itself.

Why do people make this mistake? Because usually the new owner figures they must do everything. They are short-staffed and, when they do hire people, they can’t totally rely on them, so they end up stepping in to make decisions or execute them.

It starts with having the right people in the right positions. Begin by creating job descriptions and performance requirements for each position in your company.

You can’t build a business without the right people in the right positions. You also need the right systems and processes. You must tell your people what they’re required to do as well.

When the company is well-organized and when people know what they need to know to take it where you’re aiming to get it, you can come in 20 hours, or 10 hours, or not at all. Freedom doesn’t always equate to not working. It’s the ability to do what you want to do when you want to do it.
Originally published Jan.11, 2019

Managing Through Change Requires Quality Input

Things are changing so fast from week to week, and there is so much uncertainty right now. The uncertainty leads you to second guess the right thing to do.

In March (of 2020 when the pandemic started), my first reaction for my roofing company was to cut (marketing) expenses to preserve cash flow. As the shutdown went on, I continued to speak with other remodelers; it became apparent that consumers were starting to purchase again, and things were going to be very busy, so we reinvested in marketing.

It dawned on me that if I didn’t have a network to access, what would I have done? Would I have called my competitors to see what they’re doing?

We started to ask each other questions. When you don’t talk to other people, you don’t see what makes a huge difference.

Never underestimate the power of networking with others in your field. Even for contractors who have been in it for a long time, there is always something new to learn and implement.
Originally published Aug. 18, 2020. QR

Scott Siegal is the owner of Maggio Roofing in Washington, D.C., and also owns the Certified Contractors Network. You can learn more about CCN by going to the website contractors.net.

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