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What does this woman have to say about your reno business?

She says you have to match your brand to your core values or your company is going nowhere


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February 27, 2012 by Robert Koci

What is your company’s culture? Does it match your marketing? How does your tribe see your culture? Do you even know what we are talking about here? The following is some of what you’ll read in Mel DePaoli’s book about these important considerations when you are building, marketing and leading your company.

A Moment on Cultures

¨  A company culture is comprised of everything that happens in day to day affairs and often is not consciously thought about. It influences situations, is a pattern of the feelings, thoughts and basic assumptions that drive everything within the company and how the company approaches the market.

¨  A company’s culture is made up of strategic elements, actions, and processes. It is a choice that needs to be made and reinforced every day.

¨  A common mistake often made is letting the core values and the core purpose of the company become simply words on paper or words on the wall. The culture is how these words are brought to life—how these words affect the people within your organization and how they do their job.

¨  Communication, rituals, and processes are how the mission, values, and visions come alive to create the culture of the company and also influence how it is maintained; creating focus and shape behavior.

Turning Points & Beyond

¨  A turning point is an experience which triggered a change for the company. When the business was started, it operated one way, and then something happened. This lead to changing almost everything about how the company operates, and understanding the value of building and maintaining a strong culture.

¨  All companies go through ups and downs. It is to be expected and prepared for.

¨  An external force normally influences turning points and is also needed to move beyond it.

¨  Being open and honest with your team means that you have to admit that you do not know something and acknowledging that you are reaching out for help.

¨  Losing employees is often what the company needs to move forward so you can bring in the employees that are able to take you to the next level.

¨  The process will take a lot of time—think one to three years with a lot of changes simultaneously.

Snowflake Syndrome

¨  Snowflake Syndrome is not all bad—your company is special.

¨  Snowflake Syndrome appears at stages when a company is adjusting to a new way or direction and there is an odd mix of vulnerability and ego.

¨  Just because a company has a different culture from yours does not mean that one of you is wrong, or there is nothing you can learn from each other.

¨  Learn from others – their strengths, their ways of doing things and resolving issues, and integrate what you learned into your own company.

¨  “Your team is never as bad as they look when they screw up or as good as they look when they succeed.” The same is true for companies.

The Cost of Culture

¨  Implementing the necessary changes to become a company driven by its culture requires seeing the value of investing the time, effort, and money to enjoy long-term success.

¨  Proper compensation and benefits is a potent combination for motivation and loyalty.

¨  Creating, maintaining, or changing a culture is evolutionary, not revolutionary.

¨  Your culture must be constantly tended to, and also adapt to changes in the market.

Hiring & Firing

¨  Hiring and firing employees is probably the quickest way to make a cultural change as it almost always affects everyone else.

¨  To make hiring easier and take up less time, practice the process—practice makes perfect. When someone calls or asks to fill out an application, be honest with them and tell them you are not hiring right now and ask them if they are interested in scheduling an informational interview.

¨  Something to consider when hiring friends and family referrals is that you are bringing in to your company a personal aspect of your employees. There may be good, but the bad and the baggage are just around the corner.

¨  Using hidden elements will quickly weed out prospects but are not always appropriate.

¨  Being in business sometimes means you need to take risks and see where those risks take you.

¨  Some companies thrive by hiring only by referral while other companies have policies against it.

¨  When you are conducting an interview whether it is a group or a one to one interview, make sure you have a goal in mind.

¨  When the wrong employee stays, they end up infecting every aspect of your business—other employees, clients, processes, improvements, and attempted changes.

¨  Having a good orientation process helps new employees get up to speed with the way things are done at the company and allows the company to see if the new person really is a good fit.

¨  Firing goes right along with hiring to build a culture that will allow your company to thrive.

¨  Hiring the wrong employee and then shortly after having to fire them can be a costly error, but it is nowhere near as costly as letting them stay.

¨  Approach hiring a subcontractor like you would an employee. Look for similar qualities and requirements upfront and do not settle for one you know will not work out.

¨  Have strict rules for the subs, (they must have the proper insurance, wear a shirt at all times, no swearing, and so on) and pay them accordingly. This builds mutual respect and teaches the sub to raise their standards and to run a better company themselves.

The Tribe

¨  Your tribe is a reflection of your culture and the face of your brand.

¨  Your clients experience your brand and your company based on how your tribe experiences working for you.

¨  Do you and the other leaders in your tribe trust that the work can be done to your standards without doing it yourself or micromanaging?

¨  While disagreements and fights within the company normally involve three areas of the company, there are four main cliques that need to be united: senior management, office staff, sales and field staff.

¨  The strength of an area of the company (senior management, office staff, sales and field staff) can just as easily trip it up.

¨  The ‘trilogy scenario’ is a clear indication that the company has an imbalance and other problems will soon follow, if they have not already. This may also send a signal to clients that they may have made the wrong decision.

¨  Meetings are not the end all, sure-fire way to solve your problems, but done right they can offer a common ground for conveying information, discussions, uniting the tribe, and brainstorming.

¨  Of all the different types of meetings held, the most important to the success of a company ended up being the All Hands Meeting or Company Meeting—which is held regularly and attendance is mandatory.

¨  Everyone’s job is important and has a purpose.

¨  Leadership is not about reinventing the wheel or even dictating how it is to be used; it is about inspiring and guiding others to find new ways of using it.

¨  Delegating can be difficult to learn, but it is highly rewarding and profitable.

Implementing Change

¨  The keys to any successful change are communication and education.

¨  Be open and honest with your tribe about the change.

¨  Initiating and accepting change is a choice—yours and your tribe’s.

¨  Often leaders mistake long term results as a product of short term actions.

¨  A company event only reinforces what you already have.

¨  A company event is a great tool to use to launch a new change, encourage a continued action, or to reward a desired result.

¨  Make sure that a celebration leads into the launch of something new instead of just being an end in itself.

¨  It’s all about communication and no matter how successful you think you are at it, changing a culture will put you and your tribe to the test.

¨  A Paper Trail Meeting follows the path of jobs. Each employee talks about their involvement with the client; from the very first phone call all the way through job completion. This process highlights how everyone is important and affects the experience the client has. It also shows if a mistake occurs, where and how it will affect someone else.

¨  Every member of your tribe needs to know some aspect of what is going on in the business to do their job properly.

¨  Deciding what is right and wrong when going through a culture shift can be quite the challenge since the path is foggy at best.

¨  When your tribe stops learning, your company stops growing; education is vital to the success of your business.

¨  Learning is not something that should be reserved for senior management when you are in this bind or that; it is to your benefit to share it with everyone, on an ongoing basis.

What is Your Brand?

¨  A brand is the on-going perception of value that the company (or product) holds regardless of who owns or runs the company.

¨  The reality of marketing is that you have to find what works for your company and just because it works today does not mean it will work tomorrow.

¨  When you have a strong culture, you end up with strong and smart employees—ones that understand YOUR business. When they understand your business, they are better able to communicate the value of the company, identify who is a good client and make your company look like a desirable place to work.

¨  Being in business is about providing a client with a memorable experience worthy of sharing, but at the same time it is also about working with the clients that provide value to the company.

¨  Not all clients are good ones and it is ok to refer work to other businesses.

¨  Always be prepared to hear the good, the bad and the ugly with grace.

¨  When you know what doesn’t work and why it doesn’t work, it is easier to build stronger campaigns with the various media that do work, for you.

¨  Conveying the right information using the wrong media will get you the same results as not doing anything at all.

¨  Some phrases that you should never use in an attempt to differentiate yourself: full service, customer service, cheap, or low-cost.

Unrealized Ideas

¨  You can choose to view circumstances in your business (e.g., lack of repeat business) as limitations, or you can find ways to leverage these supposed limitations.

¨  “Can’t” is a word that caps your potential.

¨  It is your job to educate your prospect on why these differences are important and worth paying for.

¨  Instead of asking and acting on “How are we different?” it is an industry that only asks “What has worked for you?”

¨  The majority of successful campaigns come from companies introducing new techniques to the industry. That is what gives people and organizations something to talk about—something out of the norm.

¨  If the photos you use are nice but represents something generic that could be in anyone’s house, no one will remember it.

¨  It is not the market’s job to remember you; it is your job to give the market a reason to remember you.

¨  Claiming that your core competency is building, remodeling or installing something permanent and having a job sign that falls apart when the wind blows is quite the contradiction.

Why Does The Client Matter?

¨  Without the client there is no reason to be in business.

¨  A business is not obligated to do business with anyone, nor should you target everyone.

¨  Your business is only as good as its ability to grow and reinvent itself in conjunction with growth and changes in the market.

¨  Never assume your client is ignorant of their needs or what constitutes value to them.

¨  It is ok, even encouraged to refer a prospect to another company if they are not a good fit for you. This builds your rapport with the prospect and other businesses. Think of it as ‘we would rather have you happy with someone else instead of being unhappy with us.’

¨  The most common communication practices implemented are walking the job, having a job book, and knowing how to answer questions.

¨  Even if the wrong decision was made, it’s ok because your tribe would learn what not to do next time and why it should not be done.

You can purchase the book on Amazon, contact Mel DePaoli at mel@omicle.com, or learn more at www.ContractorsDoingItRight.com,


Robert Koci

Robert Koci

Rob Koci is the publisher of Canadian Contractor magazine. rkoci@canadiancontractor.ca Tel. 647-407-0754
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