What would you do different?By Frank Gandora
The time comes when you look back at your life, your career or your business and say to yourself, “If I could have only done things differently.”
I have been involved in the segmental pavement industry since the early 80’s, and, yes, there are some things that I did right and others I wish I would have done different. I want to share some of those things that I think are important that might help you become more efficient, better organized, have fewer headaches, raise the level of quality, and be more successful.
To me it is really about forming habits and routines. You have probably heard this a million times, but I can’t stress enough the power of the written word. Psychologically when you write something down and review it often, your subconscious mind gets to work in the background to guide your thoughts and actions to obtaining those things.
Write down your plans and goals. It doesn’t have to be formal; I write many ideas and goals down on the back of napkins, scratch paper, notes on my phone etc., and have seen the successful outcome of those thoughts or ideas and goals. Something to think about, you will probably spend more time planning, drawing, selling a project than it would take to write your thoughts and desires down on paper.
In the hardscape business things are moving quickly. New products, tools and equipment, installation methods, and so forth are developing daily. Start a reference library of those things and learn everything you can. If you are a business owner it will give you a strategic edge against competitors. If you are an employee it will make you more valuable in the work place.
Develop systems in everything you do. First, create a good record keeping system of everything you do and create in your business, and keep those records forever. Scan them and put them on a thumb drive or save them in a folder in your computer.
I can’t tell you how many times a client from 15 or 20 years ago calls, and we still have their information at our fingertips. This information not only secures rapport but also makes it so much easier to get the information you need to help them.
I store information in common software such as Word, Excel, QuickBooks and Gmail/Outlook so that my files have a better chance of being accessible down the road. After each job we merge the job files with the office files, scan them and keep those customer files for at least 5 years before we get rid of the hardcopies. It is important to write a brief post summary for each project so that if you encounter something similar you have a reference of the good the bad and the ugly of that project.
Think about it like this, McDonalds makes billions of dollars in profits hiring 16 year old kids that work there for an average of 3 months. How do they do it? They have systems in place. They train every new hire the same way. Every food item is purchased and prepared the same way. All their equipment is the same. Their restaurants are the same. Their customer interaction is the same.
Systems help them become more efficient, better organized, have fewer headaches, raise the level of quality, etc. Enough for now, go out and purchase a book by Michael Gerber, “The E-Myth Contractor”. This book will enlighten you in a way that no one traditionally thinks about. Remember this, what you see in the hardscape industry now is just the tip of the iceberg. A great future awaits us.
Frank Gandora CCPI, CS, PICPS is President of Creative Hardscape Company in Lakewood, CO. Frank is also a certified hardscape trainer and a regular seminar presenter at Hardscape North America.