Al Levi
Editor's note:Consultant Al Levi helps contractors run their businesses with "less stress and more success." HVAC and plumbing contractors seek his advice regularly. Al has agreed to let us share with readers ofThe Newssome of the questions he gets and the answers he provides. The focus is strictly on problem solving and handling the day-to-day operations of a successful contracting business.

To send Al your own questions, which if selected will run anonymously, send him an e-mail at or fax him at 212-202-6275.

This column is meant to be a resource only. Please check with your own trusted business advisers, including your own attorney, to make certain that the advice here complies with all relevant laws, customs, and regulations in your area.

Dear Al,

I delegate a project and it ends up back in my lap. It's frustrating because I think they don't care or they don't understand. Either way, my plate is full and I feel like if I don't do it myself, it won't get done or done right.

What do I need to do?

Trying To Delegate

Dear Trying To Delegate,

There is a procedure to delegate properly. Follow this and you can count on a smooth project.

The Delegation Procedure:

1. Define the goal.

2. Describe what would be a good conclusion for this project.

3. List what resources they'll have to accomplish the goal.

4. Inform them when the project is due.

5. Establish a frequent meeting schedule to discuss progress and any mid-course adjustments that may be needed.

6. Indicate what the reward or consequence is for them should it be a success or failure.

Al Levi

Dear Al,

I want to grow the company as quickly as possible but I don't know how. What are my options?

Way To Grow

Dear Way To Grow,

There are a couple of ways to grow. But if you're looking to grow quickly, you'll need to have an aggressive approach to acquisition of existing companies. This will require assembling money and a team of professionals that can identify businesses to buy, handle the accounting and legal issues, and a training system for reorienting the existing staff of those companies. It also requires a professional marketing company to help retain as many customers as possible while using the company as a hub to add more customers.

You may also choose to merge with or form a partnership with other like-minded contractors who want to grow and are willing to pool their talents and their money.

Al Levi

Al Levi of Appleseed Business specializes, as his Web site says, in "Making Contractors' Lives Less Stressful and More Successful." Through private workshops, on-site assessments, customized operating manuals, and staff training programs, Levi delivers the benefit of the experience he gained from years of operating a large family-run HVAC and plumbing business. Learn more by visiting You may also contact Levi by e-mail at or by fax at 212-202-6275.

Publication date: 09/06/2004