Tools are a necessity in our lives. They are the single most important part of building or fixing something. Some tools are critical in making sure the foundation on which we build upon is level and square. Some tools we use every day and some tools we use periodically. Some tools are specialty tools designed for a specific purpose. I’ve always said, “In order to do the job properly you need the right tool in the right place at the right time.
Up until now, you may think I’m talking about mechanical tools. The tools I’m speaking of are foundational tools to build and operate a business efficiently, effectively and profitably. Some business tools are used to repair a business that is broken, while others can take a well-run business to the next level.
Let’s discuss some of the tools needed and that are available to you through Service Leaders Network (SLN). As we discuss these tools, consider that they can be used in two different ways: to start a new business or to manage and restructure your current business.
BUSINESS STRATEGY AND MENTORS
One of the first things to look for in your toolbox is a successful business model or strategy that you can replicate in your own business plan. A strong resource is another business owner who is willing to share their successes and failures with you. Sound advice from someone with this experience is priceless. Part of the strategy involves determining the needs in your local market, a competitive analysis and a review of how what you offerings meet local demand. SLN has two full time experienced veterans in the service industry who can help you formulate an organized business plan.
An important piece of starting a business is understanding what type of structure you want to build your organization around. There are sole proprietorships, partnerships, general partnerships, limited partnerships, corporations, S-corporations, limited liability company (LLC) — the list goes on. Consider these factors when choosing your business structure type: legal liability, taxes, cost, flexibility and your business’s future needs.
COSTS, INCOME, PROFIT
These three things can pave the path for success or failure. Forecasting is another critical piece to determine for multiple reasons. Loans or capital investment funds will be required by any lending institution. You’ll need to put together a business plan listing all your startup costs for at least six months into the future. In addition to startup costs, you must know your sustainable costs, what you need on a continuing basis to operate. And of course, you must build in your desired profit margin into your costs. You’ll need to forecast your income streams. An important part of knowing what and how to calculate a forecast is by doing a cost of doing (CoDB) business plan. A CoDB can be forecasted on the business plan as a whole and as a particular category within the business plan, such as CoDB for technician wages or CoDB of the service operation as a whole. SLN has a CoDB program that includes a self-calculating spreadsheet.
HUMAN RESOURCES, HIRING AND TRAINING
You’ll need employees with various skillsets to operate your business effectively, efficiently and productively. The whole process of obtaining these employees can be a daunting task. You’ll be determining the needs of staff, how many, their salaries and benefits, creating job descriptions, advertising, recruiting, interviewing, vetting for skillsets and background checks, onboarding, training, scheduling regular assessments, promotions, cross training — the list goes on. The Nationwide Marketing Group human resources (HR) division and SLN help address many of these processes and needs and provide services and resources to our Members. SLN has created a downloadable and customizable template for recruiting, hiring, onboarding and training, which provides job descriptions, interview laws and links to interview questions, assessment tests and a technical test for interviewing Technicians. This and much more is posted on the SLN webpage within MemberNet.
SLN also has a partnership with the Department of Labor for enrolling new hire technicians in the residential and commercial appliance technician apprenticeship program. Employers are eligible to receive federal funds; tax credits, wage compensation, and training tuition.
And SLN has a partnership with SkillsUSA Residential & Commercial Appliance Technology (RCAT) program. This program teaches high school and adult students the fundamentals of appliance technology and repair. There are 12 dedicated RCAT and 390 HVAC programs in schools across the US.
SLN is also partnered with five other training organizations that train your Technician and Customer Service Representative staff either online or on site. These organizations offer discounts to NMG members.
KEEPING TRACK OF IT ALL
How are you going to keep track and stay organized with so many pieces to the puzzle? Trying to succeed without strong business software is what I call the Fred and Wilma system. You’ll be operating in the stone ages. There are two types of business software. Point of Sale (POS) is typically used for sales and as a customer database, inventory management and delivery dispatches. Business Management Software/ Systems (BMS) is typically used for the service side of the business. We’ll focus on BMS for service. You’ll find that the service division of your organization is the most complex piece of your business. There are many pieces to this puzzle that need to be organized and monitored constantly in order to be efficient, effective, productive and, ultimately, profitable. A good BMS manages costs, income and profit.
PARTS MANAGEMENT AND PROGRAMS
You’ll also need to constantly monitor your parts for inventory, cost, usage, profit and loss. In addition, it’s best practice to regularly explore which parts distributors (PD’s) provide the best prices, terms and policies. SLN has programs with multiple PDs to get you the best available programs.
Technician productivity reports are another tool you’ll need to use to determine technician proficiency, production, needs for training, consumer opinions through surveys and reputation management.
INCOME SOURCES AND MEMBERNET DATABASE
Here’s another tool to know who your most and least profitable trade partners are. SLN has developed an online servicer database and analytics program in your member profile in MemberNet. This database allows you to enter your warranty rates by manufacturer and see the comparison between your rates and national averages. This is a strong negotiating tool for you when it’s time to renew your rates.
NMG and SLN have multiple POS and BMS partners that have the tools to help keep your business running smooth.
If you want to discuss any of these business tools and many more tools available to you, please contact the SLN team; Mark Pollitz (email@example.com) and Carmine Dionisio (firstname.lastname@example.org).