“Nobody knows everything. I learn something every day.”
— Tony Marmon
Jim Corcoran and Tony Marmon have created a success story with their business coach/client relationship. Corcoran is with BDR (Business Development Resources), a Seattle-based consulting company that focuses on the HVAC industry. Marmon heads Trademark Mechanical, a multifaceted and expanding trade company with three locations in Idaho and Washington.
On “Toolbox for the Trades,” the pair delve into when to work with a coach, being vulnerable, and dealing with sacred cows.
Here are Jim Corcoran and Tony Marmon’s insights into home-industry trade companies getting the most out of working with a business coach.
Key TakeawaysWhen it’s time to work with a coach.Coaching requires a willingness to be vulnerable.How to start the coach/client relationship. Dealing with sacred cows. Setting goals with a coach. Making sure the goals are met. The key to receiving coaching feedback: honesty. Who can benefit from coaching? Anybody. Recommended research and reading
When it’s time to work with a coach.
Marmon says there came a point in his career when he was doing more HVAC services in addition to the construction side of his business.
“I had to figure out how to develop other processes, skills and techniques,” he says. “That’s when I reached out to BDR. At first, I was wearing all the hats. I had to learn to delegate, build an actual organization, and assign other people to certain roles.”
Coaching requires a willingness to be vulnerable.
“I commend Tony and any client that I have for allowing us to be a part of your business and letting us reach in there,” Corcoran says. “That means being super vulnerable. I’ve got compassion for that. You’re opening up and saying, ‘Hey, man, I don’t know how to do this, help me out.’ It means letting your guard down a little bit.”
How to start the coach/client relationship.
The first part of building a coach/client relationship is working on a connection, Corcoran says.
“The first thing I do is an assessment,” he says. “What do they know? What are they going to allow you to know? What are they going to be vulnerable to and what are they going to protect?
“We want to understand their habits and their vision. We look at these things so we know how far to push.”
Dealing with sacred cows.
After doing an assessment, a coach may find that a client has a particular sacred cow (something that a client doesn’t want to change), Corcoran says.
“Tony loves people,” he says. “He cares about them. There were some people in Tony’s group that had been there for 20 years. He was loyal to them, but sometimes the business evolves past a person’s abilities.”
“Jim hit it on the head,” he says. “Sometimes you have to make hard decisions. There’s a lot at stake, and the company is counting on you to make the right decision.”
Setting goals with a coach.
Marmon says that when he first started working with Corcoran the primary goal was to help remove himself from daily operations.
“We worked on a plan to delegate some of my duties,” Marmon says. “Jim weighed in. He had us work on hiring this person or graduating that person to a new role. And now, we have time to be more strategic and work on the vision and what’s next.”
Making sure the goals are met.
Corcoran points out that along with talking about the process, it’s important for a coach and a client to experience the workplace and get the same takeaways.
“I showed up early one day to see how the operation worked in the morning,” he says. “It was organized chaos. This brand-new building Tony had bought wasn’t built as an HVAC building.”
Corcoran took Marmon back and they checked it out together. The solution: They set up staggered start times in staging areas. The fix was validation of the need for a coach and a client to work together on the same real-life page.
The key to receiving coaching feedback: honesty.
For the coaching process to really work, Marmon says the boss/client needs to be serious, open, and honest about seeking answers and solutions.
“Ego can get in the way of a lot of things in life,” he says. “You have to say, ‘Here’s where I’m at, and here’s where I want to go.’ When you click with the right mentor you develop that trust. Then you open up more and develop the relationship. Nobody knows everything. I learn something every day.”
Who can benefit from coaching? Anybody.
Corcoran suggests that everybody can benefit from coaching—but that not every coach is a perfect match with a client.
“Coaching can absolutely help everybody, but everybody doesn’t accept coaching in the same way,” he says. “If you run into a group that doesn’t work, try a different group. At BDR, we have different coaches.”
A well-matched coach will give you a jumpstart, Corcoran says.
“They help you with direction,” he adds. “They can give you a good assessment. They can lead you in a way that you might like—even though you might not want to hear it.” Marmon’s only regret to getting coaching? “I only wish I would have done it sooner,” he says.