“I’d rather implement a bad idea well than a good idea terribly.”
There’s not much Jaime DiDomenico hasn’t seen or done over a 40-year career in the trades. He’s still president/CEO of Cool Today, Plumbing Today, and Energy Today in Sarasota, Fla. (even though he sold to Cool Wrench in 2019). Those companies include more than 300 employees and generate $23 million in annual sales.
DiDomenico talks about the importance of every department in a company, open communication policies, and the importance of implantation and continual evaluation of business practices.
Here are Jaime DiDomenico’s top tips for managing home services trades:
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Key TakeawaysTechs generate the revenue, but every job matters.Accounting is like the offensive line.In M&A, the best policy is open communication. A business is always a reflection of the owner. Improve on other people’s ideas. MBWA is the best management style. Go for it. Implement something. Manage processes you put in place.
Techs generate the revenue, but every job matters.
Unlike most trade owners, DiDomenico was never a tech—but he has an unfailing respect for what the job entails.
“I ran a dispatch division,” he says. “I ran customer service, and I ran the commercial division. And I was in accounting. The people in the office support the techs, the revenue generators. I appreciate the people crawling through attics, basements, and roofs. The work they do is why we’re all here.”
Accounting is like the offensive line.
To go with the sports analogy, the accounting department protects the playmakers, i.e., operations employees.
“Like the quarterback or running backs, operations makes the scores,” DiDomenico says. “But no matter how busy or slow a company is, the accounting department is always busy.
“Whether it’s counting money coming in or going out, making sure financials are right or controlling cash, accounting is always having to get information and make good decisions.”
In M&A, the best policy is open communication.
DiDomenico has been on both ends of being acquired by a bigger company.
“When you’re going to buy a company, and you’re going to make a lot of changes, be upfront, open and transparent,” he says. “As long as employees know things will change and there will be opportunities, good people will commit to staying."
A business is always a reflection of the owner.
Over a career of mergers and acquisitions, DiDomenico has seen time and again that the overall makeup of a company is reflected in the personality of the owner. “My first general rule is, if you wouldn’t want to have a beer, cup of coffee or dinner with this owner, don’t buy them,” he says. “You’ll be sorry if you do. I’ve yet to see a situation where I said, ‘I don’t like him but I’m going to acquire this thing’ and it turned out the people are rock stars. Crap begets crap.”
Improve on other people’s ideas.
Don’t steal ideas, DiDomenico says, but do network with others who are facing similar problems and finding solutions that work for them.
“For example, everybody can get ServiceTitan, but not everybody is optimizing ServiceTitan,” he says. “We’re all on the same playing field. But some people are sending their people to Pantheon, or to advanced training. If you have good people, they’ll find ways to use the tools better than you ever have.”
MBWA is the best management style.
MBWA is an acronym for Manage By Walking Around. It allows you to be in touch with your people, DiDomenico says.
“On one hand, it allows you to know who your people are and determine if they are in the right position for them and for the company,” he says. “And if you really know your employees, you can be impactful to them with advice as well as help build the company culture.”
Go for it. Implement something.
Staying on your hamster wheel is never going to bring about new practices, DiDomenico says.
“I’d rather implement a bad idea well than a good idea terribly,” he says. “Part of being in business is making mistakes. If you don’t implement something, you’ll never know if it works or not.”
Manage the processes you put in place.
A good implementer checks back in and asks follow-up questions, DiDomenico says.
“If something doesn’t work right, ask about the steps that were taken,” he says. “Maybe there was one link in the chain that wasn’t taken and that was the one step you needed to achieve success.”