It all starts with a one-page document called “a painted vision.”
Have you ever been frustrated by your team? Have you ever wished that your employees worked together? Have you ever felt that there was just a little too much uncertainty among your employees? Have you ever wished your team took a bit more initiative?
As the owner of a business, you hire a team and hope they work together for the success of the company. Problem is, they don’t seem to do that consistently. And the result? Employees can clash with each other, customers aren’t served the way they should be, revenue and profits can take a hit, and you’re left problem-solving and cleaning up messes.
But what if there was another way? What if you could get your team aligned and moving together in the same direction, as if they were a championship rowing team, each rowing their own oar in perfectly synchronized unison?
Here’s the great news: it’s possible to create a team like that. It all starts with a one-page document called “a painted vision”.
Chances are, you’ve heard before of companies that have a vision. Most of the time it’s a big deep-pocket company, and they create a fancy-sounding vision of a sentence or two. (And let’s be honest: most of the time, those fancy-sounding visions sound like the marketing department wrote a vague blurb that could apply to anyone.) To be clear, that is not what I am talking about.
A painted vision is not like one of those short, boring, overly-marketed paragraphs that big companies write.
Here’s The Powerful One-Page Vision That Can Align Your Team
A painted vision is a one-page document that clearly outlines in exciting terms exactly how you see your company running in about three to five years. It’s just a few paragraphs long (doesn’t need to be more than one page… maybe two pages if you want to add some pictures and put it on a double-sided sheet of paper).
A painted vision does just that—it paints a picture, using words, of what your company will be like. It uses short vivid descriptions that give a crystal-clear mental picture of what the company will be like.
A painted vision discusses just a few topics such as:
How your company’s team works together—for example, talk about how you only hire the best employees, and everyone loves working together and they always have each others’ backs.
How your company works with customers—for example, talk about how you only work with the very best customers, and those customers’ values.
How your company’s leadership leads the way—for example, talk about how your leadership team will work hard to expand the company and create more opportunities for everyone.
You may also want to include specific measurables throughout your painted vision (such as how much annual revenue you’ll generate or how many people will be in your company).
If you need help with your painted vision, just get the big ideas down in a rough draft and then hire a freelance writer to craft the wording.
How To Use Your Painted Vision For Maximum Benefit
So, you’ve created your painted vision, now what do you do to ensure that your company benefits from it and your whole team works together to turn that vision into reality?
Recommendation #1. Give the painted vision to your executive team or managers to reverse engineer the vision into targets and goals, and then reverse those targets/goals into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you can measure your team’s performance with.
Recommendation #2. Read your painted vision to everyone at your next all-company meeting. Get everyone’s agreement that it is a worthy vision to work toward.
Recommendation #3. Share the painted vision when you onboard new employees and get their “buy-in” early in their career with you to ensure that they are aligned right from day one.
Recommendation #4. Share the painted vision constantly in your business, encouraging people to make decisions based on it. When someone comes to you with a problem or an opportunity to consider, ask them how it could help or hinder the painted vision.
There are many more ways you can use your painted vision, too, but start with these four ways. Your team will know where your company is going and they’ll see themselves as a key part of that vision, and your team will constantly look to your painted vision to help them make better decisions.
If it ever feels like your team isn’t working together in the way you’d like, it’s sometimes because they just don’t know where the company is headed so they make it up each day. But if you create a strong and compelling vision for your company, and if you share it with your team, you’ll help your whole team row together in unison like championship rowers… turning your exciting vision into an exciting reality.
What your customers SEE of you will influence what your customers FEEL about you. This will influence what they buy from you.
How can you influence HVAC contracting customers to buy more from you more often? Most HVACR distribution companies might rely on the sales skills of their teams, as well as industry trends, to help them sell to customers.
But there’s another way to influence how much your customers buy from you, although you might not immediately realize the opportunity. In fact, you may be completely overlooking it (even though it’s right in front of you!)
Here’s a simple concept that will unlock this opportunity for you: What your customers SEE of you will influence what your customers FEEL about you, which will influence what your customers BUY from you.
“You want them to feel that you understand them and can help
with even more than they are using you for now.
You want them to think that by using your services, they can grow.”
Remember that concept and apply it everywhere to see an increase in sales! Here’s what it means:
Your customers observe your team delivering the HVACR products that you deliver: if you have an office or a storefront, your customers see you there; if you deliver to a customer’s office, your customers see you there.
Think about what your customers see. Start by looking at everything through your customer’s eyes. Does your customer see a minimum wage worker driving around in a dented vehicle to deliver HVAC components to their team? Does your customer see grubby, stained invoices that they need to sign? Does your customer see an ill-designed website that is confusing to navigate? Does your customer walk into your storefront and see rows of components and a few people stocking shelves?
Now think about what the customer could see that will influence how they feel about you. You can think about this by asking yourself what you want your customers to think about you. You want them to have trust and confidence in your ability to deliver what you promise. You want them to think of quality so they know they are using high quality components for their customers. You want them to feel that you understand them and can help with even more than they are using you for now. You want them to think that by using your services, they can grow.
Figure out how to show that. Now comes the inspiring part! Figure out how to show those qualities and characteristics. Ask yourself what you can show that will create trust and confidence, communicate quality, and help customers see themselves with you for the long-term.
Here are some practical tips and ideas to get you started (although how these are implemented in your business depends on how you do business).
Customers: Show pictures of happy customers; better yet, show videos of happy customer giving testimonials or as part of a case study. That way, other customers see that you help many people and they are inspired to grow to the level of your more successful customers.
Team members: Show your team—working hard, smiling, helping customers, and learning to help your customers better. Make sure your team always looks clean, neat, professional, and positive. Position your team as helpful experts.
Awards. If you’ve won awards for anything (from service to community impact) make sure you display those awards prominently. Customers will want to work with an award-winning company.
Community contribution: You probably contribute to the community in some way, whether it’s volunteer hours, fundraisers, canned food donations, or sponsoring a local little league. If your company does something in the community, proudly show it off! Chances are, your customers feel that they are part of the community and want to partner with organizations that also contribute to the wellbeing of the same company.
How you help: This can be more challenging to communicate but it’s important. You should show how you help customers—ultimately, you don’t just help them with HVACR components but rather you help them run their businesses and satisfy their customers while keeping costs low and their team productive. Figure out how to show that, and reinforce that message over and over.
All of these pieces can be done in many different ways: If you have team members dropping equipment off, you can include some of this information on your delivery vehicle (such as a wrapped van showing your professional team), and in brochures (showing case studies). If you deliver equipment, why not include one-sheet flyers that show how you help your company, as well as a flyer boasting about your community involvement. And at your office? Leverage all that wall-space by putting up posters or even having TVs with looped video running to communicate these same messages.
When customers see more about you, it influences what they think of you, which in turn helps them to buy more from you. You can leverage these positive feelings in your customers by leading with some of the best information about your company… information that has been right in front of you but you’ve probably not highlighted as effectively as you could.
The good news is: it’s simple, fun, and very effective; plus it’s very quick to put these pieces in place for immediate benefit.
Stop thinking about today. Instead, you need to think about tomorrow, next week, next month, and next quarter.
If you want to make more money in your contracting business, you have a few ways to do it: you can do more marketing and get more leads, you can sell more products and services that you haven’t previously offered, you can raise your prices, and so on.
This list is probably already familiar to you. Chances are, they are at the top of your mind when you ask yourself how to make more money.
But there’s one way to make more money in your contracting business that is often overlooked by owners, and that is: gazing into a crystal ball.
Sounds strange, right? And maybe it even sounds a little far-fetched. But here’s what I mean…
“As the owner of the business, if you are thinking today about today then it’s actually too late. You needed to think about today a couple of months ago.”
If you’re reading this right now (at the height of summer busy-ness) you might be just trying to keep your head above water from all the calls coming in. You might be working overtime to juggle all the pieces and move your team around so they can help as many customers as possible.
In other words, you are focused on optimizing your team and your company today to serve today’s customers.
But if you really want to grow your business, you need to stop thinking about today. Instead, you need to think about tomorrow… and next week… and next month… and next quarter.
As the owner of the business, if you are thinking today about today then it’s actually too late. You needed to think about today a couple of months ago.
What I always say to business owners is: sure, it’s summer now… but fall is coming up. How are you planning for the fall?
Step 1 – Measuring Trends
The first thing that needs to happen in your business is to measure trends. Yes, you already generally know that the summer will be busy and the fall will be slower… but do you know the exact weeks that happens? You already generally know the exact days of the week that are busier or slower… but do you know why or by how much? Yes, you already generally know the hours of the day that are busier or slower but do you know by the exact amount?
Most contracting business owners can probably say “Summers are busy; Mondays are insane, and we tend to get a lot of calls in the morning.” That is a general awareness.
“Truly tracking the numbers allows you to
apply your knowledge in a very specific way
beyond just generally knowing when things are busy an when they are slow!”
Want to know what the more successful contracting business owner knows? He or she opens a spreadsheet of the number of phone calls and appointments every hour of every day of every week of every month, and they can say: “During the last 2 weeks of August we see our numbers decline by 20% each week. We have 10 calls an hour Monday morning and 2 calls an hour on average in each afternoon…” (and so on).
Those numbers give so much power because they allow you to apply your knowledge in a very specific way beyond just generally knowing when things are busy an when they are slow! It’s the difference between making decisions based on a feeling versus making decisions based on data.
Step 2 – Forecasting For Profit
Forecasting is about using yesterday’s data, then comparing it to today’s data, to help you make decisions for tomorrow.
The problem is, if you’re focused more on feelings than data, and if you are busy dealing with the pressures and busyness of today, you can’t make great decisions for tomorrow. Unfortunately, most contracting business owners finish up the busy summer work and when fall comes around they are almost surprised by it. They knew it was coming but they weren’t prepared.
When you have data that measures the trends, you can pinpoint the exact weeks and days that things will happen. For example, with data, you know that your calls have historically dropped by a certain amount each day of the last two weeks of August so that by September things have slowed down.
This very accurate forecasting allows you to make decisions: can you schedule out non-emergency calls for those days? Can you let your team take vacations during the slowest times? Can you pre-sell services for the slowest days? Can you assign your team to other work during the slowest hours of the day?
Right now you are busy with summer, and maybe that is keeping you busy all day every day. However, if you want to grow your contracting business, you need to hand that day-to-day thinking about today to a director of operations or to your managers, and instead you need to review your trends and start forecasting so you can put the right team members and offers in place to maximize how much money your company is making.
Want to start down this better path of gazing into a crystal ball? It’s simple: open a spreadsheet and start writing down how many calls your team got today. If possible, collect that data from the past. And keep going every single day from now on. Then review that information daily and make decisions about the future. There is no crystal ball but this is the next best thing.