Pushing Past Barriers

Can you name the three biggest barriers that block you from increasing net profits, productivity, and employee morale?

If not, read through the following to name your enemies, and push past them.


Finding and keeping good help these days can be difficult; and if your hiring process is lacking, it can block you from growing your company and increasing your profits.

If you don’t get this handled, you will be staffing up with employees you don’t really want, putting up with less-than-desirable performance, and suffering the financial consequences of doing so.

I don’t want this for you.


One time, I was working for a company that desperately needed a marketing person. We did everything — ran ads, collected resumes — but no one was getting hired. When I asked what was going on, I was told no one good was applying. Two weeks went by, and still, it seemed there were no good candidates. Frustrated, I decided to try something different. I asked for the stack of resumes and personally called every single one.

Soon enough, we ended up finding an excellent person who was able to hit the ground running.

What I learned through this was that sometimes, there are great people hiding behind OK-looking resumes, and you would never know until you get them on the phone and meet them. If you’re willing to do a little extra work, you can find people who will help explode the growth of your company.


Many business owners believe you cannot find the right people because of their area, geography or economics, and as a result, they don’t even look. If they do look they feel they already know how it’s going to turn out. And sure enough, they’re right every time. This type of thinking is self-defeating.

I hear owners and managers all over the U.S. complaining about how they can’t find good help these days. But while finding good help can absolutely be challenging, it is not impossible.


The key is having an effective hiring process.

An effective hiring process starts with solid ad copy, followed by thorough screening and interviewing practices. End with hiring procedures that will simultaneously begin to build your management culture of highly accountable people.


Sales are the lifeblood of your business.

It’s extremely important for your business to have marketing outreach practices to constantly provide a steady flow of leads for sales.

What typically happens for most businesses is they become dependent on the weather of TPAs and they wait for the phone to ring. This is a huge mistake.


One time, I was asking a group of estimators to start marketing in a very successful business that had not done any marketing in its 10 years of operations.

When it comes to moving the needle, there will always be barriers — that will never change.

At first, they were good with this new component of their business. Then came the day they turned 180 degrees.

All of a sudden, there was significant resistance from the team. Reality started to sink in.

It wasn’t long before we discovered the issue. We soon discovered that what we intended for marketing and what the employees thought marketing meant were two completely different things.

Once I helped the business owner and their employees get on the same page, not only was everyone happy but that discussion also solidified the team around marketing practices and initiatives that no one had ever considered before.

As a result, productivity and sales went up dramatically.


One of the biggest problems I see contractors making is having too many employees thinking it’s someone else’s job to go find work.

This misunderstanding occurs because it was not made clear to the employee that they would be accountable for marketing and sales. It probably wasn’t even mentioned at all from the beginning. This leaves you asking them to market for you, and you may experience resistance to this. Your employee might be saying, “You didn’t hire me for that!”


You must learn to inspire an attitude in your company of “Everyone sells, and everyone markets.”

The truth is your customers just want to speak with someone who has expertise on getting the jobs done.

Once you learn to find and keep good help, you’ll have the kind of expertise your customers really want.

All your employees need to do to effectively market is to be their shining selves and ask your customers and prospects if there is anything with which they need help. Your employees need to be positive and mentally ready for the prospect or customer to give work immediately.

It also helps if all your employees have some training in a sales process, but it’s not completely necessary.


There can be so many variables going into the making of your gross profit performance when it comes to managing all of them.

The reality is you have some estimators who write and sell, others who only produce, and then others still who write and run.

Without getting into a big argument about which of these is best, let’s ask the question: How can you support an estimator or project manager to keep all of their plates spinning?

The real answer is, however you choose to design it. That sounds simple, but it can be challenging and risky when it comes to exposure and money at stake.


Personality profile tests are popular nowadays. A company that I knew, however, had been using personality profile tests for a few years and was not seeing great success from it. The company’s project managers were underperforming.

So they tried something different. They hired a project manager who scored high on the test as a strong sales personality.

Instantly, his gross profits starting coming in 20 points higher than anyone else’s on his team.


When it comes to maintaining a high-profit margin, getting two contractors to agree about what works or how it’s done can be extremely difficult.

The reality is that what works for one contractor maybe not work for another because of the differences in volume, type of work or other possible factors.


Of course, there are things you can learn from the study of how other companies tackle problems like this.

Ultimately, however, in order for you to maintain consistently high gross profit margins, you must know what your costs are and be rigorously aware of your financials.

It’s also important for you to be watching your overall gross profit margins and the person running your work needs to be completely aware of the costs of every single job, including how it impacts their gross profits every single day.

The best examples I see of this are project managers who keep a running sheet of the total value of the job, the costs, materials, and running gross profits on a daily basis.

This kind of awareness allows them to drive their scores where they want them to go. What you measure and track grow.

This is a way of being responsible before and during the job, rather than waiting to see how it all turns out at the end.


When it comes to moving the needle, there will always be barriers — that will never change. As you can see, however, you have the power to push past them to realize your goals with a little effort and savvy.

Learn from the stumbling blocks these companies faced, and approach those of your own with a creative mind and resilient spirit. Push past the barriers. They’re the only things standing between you and where you want to be. RIA

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