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Change As A Culture

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There is nothing we want more in business than to find a process or a product that works. What bliss it would be to identify the machine that produces income, turn it on, and take the rest of the day off. Success requires change. The skill set that is required to grow a business is not the same as it takes to understand electrical theory, hydronics, or building science. Unfortunately, this means that a lot of businesses, started by contractors, ultimately fail to grow beyond a single truck and the long work days that entails.

If we want to succeed, change cannot be a necessary evil. Change must be the entire culture.

Technology is now progressing quicker than the advertisements manufacturers are displaying. There is hardly a day that passes before another tool or method is introduced. We have an ever-increasing ability to more accurately measure and model our customer’s homes. The techniques we used last week must be reexamined for this week. Constant adjustment is not necessary but vigilant re-assessment is. We depend too much on telling customers something is true “because I’ve been doing this 20 years.” This is training them to balk when we introduce new or changed information. We need to remind them that part of being an expert is constant training. Communicate that we will bring them new and updated information as we get it.

Our relationships with staff must grow and change. Change your job descriptions company-wide to include the principal duty to “examine your own job, and the company to see where improvements may be made, or efficiency increased.” The best ideas can come from anywhere. As owners and managers, we cannot let pride in our own authority or ideas shut the door to ideas we didn’t generate. Every team member should have the ability to bring any idea to management. They deserve both to be heard and to have their ideas actually contemplated. The perspective of someone “down in the trenches” is invaluable to process and progress.

Our relationships with our broader family, customers, must change as well. We are transitioning into an “experience economy.” The generation of decision makers coming up cares most about the buying experience and their interaction with a service provider. No longer are people passive consumers of interruptive advertising and the buying decision metrics of the past. People purchase services and products because they feel connected to the Brand. They want to feel connected and part of the entity that is the business they are buying from. Encourage their feedback and provide avenues of learning from your customers. It is quite possible that majority of the information you get back may be already known, or unnecessary. But you have gained a loyal customer that will come back, every time.

A culture of change will build a future of success. A company is a ship, not an island. Once you, your team, and your customers understand this; change will become part of the normal. Resistance moves to acceptance and then to shared progress. But a culture of change can only exist where trust is the foundation. Do what you say you will do and make sure your team does the same. Develop a reputation for always sticking to your word, contracts, and commitments. Flipping the Revenue Machine on and sitting on an island would certainly be easier, but that’s not reality. Progress requires change and hard work. Success requires leadership committed to integrity. Combine them and there are no limits.

Dave Schmidt

Posted In: Building Performance, Management, Residential Buildings

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