“The smart learn from their mistakes. The geniuses learn from others’ mistakes.”
Julian Scadden went from a plumbing apprentice at age 19 to GM of a multi-million-dollar home services business to, now, VP of Operations for the Nexstar Network. In a virtual session during Pantheon 2020, ServiceTitan’s annual conference for the trades, he talked about the five things 700 successful contractors all do. Those five basic pillars are:
1. Know, and live, your business model and who you serve.
Residential service and commercial or new construction are different business models, and different types of employees, Scadden said.
“We also knew who to market to,” Scadden said. “When you say yes to one thing, you’re saying no to something else. Be really clear about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.”
2. Be the right price.
It’s important to price yourself correctly, and invest in your growth. That’s everything from fleet to employees to leaders. An extra $50 per ticket is not noticeable to your customer, but can produce another $150,000 per year.
“Determine the type of business you want to have, and then build your prices,” Scadden said. “Instead of looking around at what your competitors are charging, decide what type of business you want. That’s what the right price is.”
3. Keep your financials in order.
Timely and accurate financials are the basis on which everything is built. And price should not be a race to the bottom. And focus on the big-five of financial benchmarks—labor, materials, salaries, marketing and vehicles.
“You must create a standard that thrives and survives,” Scadden said. “Someday you’re going to cash out, hopefully. What’s the legacy you’re creating?”
4. Understand that KPIs are the vital signs of your business.
But also keep in mind that they are the bare minimums, the numbers that say you’re alive. Set a higher standard so you can thrive. Coach to those standards, watch them, and be present.
“Pick your core four or five per department,” Scadden said. “Resist the urge to manage to 10 benchmarks. You might have 10 you look at, but coach to four or five”
5. Communication requires our hyper focus.
We’ve gotten good at operating remotely, but we can’t let that be all we do. And set regular, structured weekly and daily communication.
“Resist the urge to fixate on one communication tool (such as Zoom, email or messaging), use them all,” Scadden said. “And don’t forget the handwritten note. Don’t lose that.”