Running a contracting business is hard. Finding new business, keeping up with demands, and offering great customer service takes time. Unless you know how to manage your business effectively, you can get swamped quickly.

You can improve, though, if you follow a series of effective habits to take your contracting business from good to great. The habits that you need to follow might seem like a major change, but you will be able to use them to make great things happen for your business.


The biggest lesson that can be shared is called the “Wheel of Success.” This wheel is designed to help you figure out the methods that will work best for you, all of which start with the three most effective habits that you can have.

The three habits that you need to incorporate into your contracting business are:

  • Consistency — Repeat and train, coach, set targets and expectations, inspect what you expect, measure, report, and hold people accountable;
  • Communication — Don’t just hint at things — talk. Learn to communicate directly and honestly with your employees and your customers so they know the expectations; and
  • Be intentional — Create a plan, put the plan in place, follow the plan, and know what you need to do to be effective and intentional with your business and your actions.

Using these habits as a part of your daily routine can drive success for your business. It will allow you to be more effective and deliberate with your customers, your technicians, and your vendors, so you can accomplish more.

The Wheel of Success has several focus areas to help drive effectiveness in running your contracting business. These focus areas of success are:

  • Plan — Don’t do anything with your business unless you have a plan for the future. Without a plan, you have no idea where you are going;
  • Focus — Define your goals, and focus on achieving them. If you want to be the No. 1 contractor in your city, make that your goal and focus on accomplishing it;
  • Train — Nothing worthwhile comes easy. Train yourself, train your technicians, and train your staff to be the best that they can be. If you don’t train, you’ll never get better;
  • Coach — The most successful contractors coach their employees to help them be more successful. They will get better, and you can focus on growing your business;
  • Manage systems and processes, not people — If you think throwing more people at a problem will solve it, you are wrong. Manage your internal systems and your business process, and let your people work;
  • Set expectations and standards — Contractors who don’t set expectations and standards for their employees will fail. Let your team know your expectations — the standards for acceptable work — and hold them accountable;
  • Measure — There is no way for you to know if you are doing better or worse if you don’t measure your successes or failures. Set benchmarks and measure your success to know how you are doing;
  • Report — Information is power; reporting on how your technicians are doing on the job is an important habit to measure your success;
  • Inspect what you expect — If you have an expectation, you need to inspect how you are proceeding in meeting it. When you don’t inspect, you have no idea if you are meeting expectations;
  • Accountability — Hold people, including yourself, accountable for their actions. Let something slide and everything will slide. Repercussions for actions, good or bad, is critical;
  • See something, say something — Have an employee who isn’t doing the job right? You can’t be everywhere at once, so make sure that everyone knows they need to speak up when they see something wrong; and
  • Finish — Don’t stop until the work is done. Finish strong, finish right, and hold your team accountable until everything is done properly.

These components are designed to help you focus on creating expectations for your contracting business and then developing a plan to follow through on what needs to be done. Many contractors are reactionary; there is a problem, they fix it, and they move on to the next problem. While this might be a way to deal with things day to day, it is not a way that will help you find success in the long run. Being proactive, creating a plan, and following through on that plan is the only way that you will be able to find long term success with your contracting business.

To grow your business, you need to know your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. Whether you focus on HVAC, plumbing, or another contracting specialty, you got into the contracting business because you wanted to be your own boss and love what you do. If you lose focus, worry about accountants, and stop thinking about what you are good at, you can fail. Adding effective habits will help you determine your strengths and weaknesses. When you know what these are, create a plan to make your strengths stronger and eliminate your flaws. Surround yourself with the right people, learn how to do things the right way every time, and you will build effective habits in your business and in yourself.

There is an old saying about “Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” If you own a contracting business, you have probably lived that saying more than a few times, and you know the wisdom in those words. You also need to be able to evolve or die; having a figurative punch in the face can give you a chance to evolve, learn from your mistakes and come back stronger…or — you can quit. Most business owners don’t quit when they have been knocked down. Believe in what you are doing, find ways to be more effective with your team and your customers, and you will find the success that you know you can achieve.

Publication date: 6/5/2017

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