The Main Thing
November 17, 2010
Once, in college, I commented to one of my classmates that I was getting quite an education in restoration because it was more difficult than many other businesses. I’d heard that said many times before, and I said it pretty much without thinking.
On this occasion, however, my friend questioned my statement, and I had to really give some thought to the words I had been repeating through the years. Upon reflection, and after over 20 years in the industry, I really believe this to be true; additionally, I think the industry is becoming even more difficult as time passes.
Running a restoration business can be very challenging. The complicating factors of the business are many: several clients on every job, often with competing interests; unpredictable work flow with a 24-hour service; extended payment delays due to several layers of payment authorization and, now, the potential that the mortgage company may lay claim to some of the money from the insurance proceeds; a disparate group of clients and jobs that all expect their property to be your only priority; third-party payments for the work that you complete with the client’s name on the check thereby giving some property owners an expectation of a portion of the repair funds; property owners that are experiencing a great deal of stress and an invasion of privacy and much, much more.
These challenges add to the daily frustrations experienced by the restorer. Due to all of this, restorers often have leadership and management challenges. I frequently see restorers using the excuse of the “restoration crisis” to allow this to dictate their management style.
Successful restoration companies are able to create calm and predictability in the turbulent, “always on” restoration world. When our consulting company works with a new client, we require they read the book, Monday Morning Leadership by David Cottrell before we start. The book provides a solid foundation for creating great leaders and provides some valuable tools to manage an ever-changing business environment. It is important to establish pillars that do not change, so your employees experience some predictability in their day. There are many gems in this book, but today we’ll focus on one key element that will benefit any restoration company.
The Main Things in any business establish your core business functions. They are the basic purpose or priority of your organization. In restoration this can be broken down into several key components, most likely including providing great service; making money; providing employees the tools for success; restoring order from chaos and similar items.
By defining the Main Things in your organization and clearly communicating them, you create a foundation for all organizational decisions. Properly done, you can develop a culture around these essential items, provide standards for decisions, define your vision, create your mission statement and much more.
Defining the Main Things in your organization provides clear expectations on how employees are treated, creates your business objectives, and provides an understanding of how the client is to be treated. Your employees should know where organizational priorities lie, as well as their role in achieving these objectives.
This process may seem simplistic, but it is essential in your organization. Owners and managers often make assumptions about employee feelings, thoughts and expectations. Have you ever asked your employees the main goals or the purpose of your company? When everyone is on the same page and looking in the same direction, then you can create synergies in your business.
Enviro-Care Disaster Restoration Services in Buffalo, NY has communicated one simple item that has been identified as the Main Thing in their organization: To Provide Exceptional Value Throughout the Restoration Process. This is a very simple yet clear purpose that can be used to guide decisions for everyone in their organization from the leadership team to the front line staff. Owner Dick MacGuire says that the Main Thing has served as the foundation for their mission, vision and values. “I believe that if we adhere to this simple concept in all we do we will be happy with our work, having happy customers, happy employees and plenty of work,” he said.
The company uses poker chips with the words “The Main Thing” on the front and “Exceptional Value” of the other side. This is a great resource for communicating the key purpose of their company. The chips are used to communicate and reinforce the message as well as being a recognition tool. When employees are found to be performing exceptionally they are given a poker chip, which can be cashed in for prizes. MacGuire says that, as a result of consistent communication, “You will find a clear understanding of the Main Things from the entire staff. The employees of Enviro-Care are all on the same page and participating in value creation.”
In the changing world of restoration, how are you communicating consistency and the main purpose of your organization? I recommend that you bring your leadership team together and discuss the core purpose of your business. When you have the top two or three items then you should take the step of putting these into writing and communicating them to your staff. You can use this message to establish consistency in your core values, mission and vision.
I leave you with a closing quote from “Monday Morning Leadership”: “When you depend on another’s perceptions to match your expectations, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.”
Have you taken the steps needed to clarify your expectations to your staff? Are you sure?