Contractor Tip of the Month - April 2014

Words: Damian Lang

Contractor Tip of the Month

It’s not rocket science. Employees tend to stay at companies where they enjoy their work, and customers buy from people they like. So, how do you keep long-term employees and happy customers? The easiest way is to start having fun yourself. If you do, everyone around you will enjoy themselves as well.

My CFO just told me that January’s financial results were not good. This downer news is not good for my belief that I get paid more if I enjoy my work. At times like this, I like to just sit and meditate while reading some of the many positive quotes I have hanging on my office wall for a pick me upper. The first one I read is Vince Lombardi, the famous Green Bay Packers football coach. “The Spirit, the will to win, and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur.”

Another quote I must have pulled out of a book somewhere or pieced together on my own states, “Remember your philosophy in life as it directly affects your wealth, health and even your happiness. “ The quotes are positive reflecting optimism, progress and trust. I nurture these beliefs, and you must nurture these beliefs. Beliefs that hurt you are grounded in fear and defeatism. Negative beliefs must be stripped of your being. A little meditation and the quotes on my wall were all I needed to get my mind on track for the monthly profit and loss meeting I was about to attend.

It’s Feb. 20, and we are about to show 14 of our staff that between our three construction companies, we lost $77,000 in January. Everyone’s incentive pay is based on the results, so P&L meetings aren’t nearly as fun when the companies are in the red. As hard as it is going to be to keep the meeting enjoyable and meaningful, my CFO and I know it has to be done. Together, we’d already discussed how we would present the numbers, explain what happened, and get everyone talking about what we can do to minimize these kinds of losses in the future. We knew we would need to keep everyone’s spirits up for the game we will be playing the rest of the year.

Upon walking into the room, as I always try and do, I put on a friendly, relaxing face for the meeting. With my CFO and I being relaxed, the staff was laughing and enjoying themselves prior to starting. We open the meeting by allowing comments from the staff. A senior project manager says in a laughing manner, “It looks like we need to have another training on making coffee, as the pots were both empty again this morning.” He had sent out an email earlier in the week explaining how to make coffee, and that it was the responsibility of the person who took the last cup to make the next pot. Since we had been teasing him all week about the coffee message he sent out, this really kept the laughter going. We showed the nasty P&L results to everyone, and explained to them that we knew we would lose money due to the harsh and relentless below-freezing temperatures we had the whole month of January.

Upon observing the numbers, a recently hired estimator says, “Let me get this straight. Are you telling us $77,000 is about what you expect us to lose during a month like this?”

That was embarrassing and hilarious at the same time! Before I could respond, a project manager says, “If we get the right work and execute it properly, we will get our money back in a couple months.” Was this a circus I just attended? Maybe so, but I’ll bet we got more out of this meeting than we would have if we had a doom and gloom meeting over the terrible results. Plus, at the end of the meeting we had a plan in place, and a team willing to carry out that plan.

If you want to keep your employees and customers, make sure you are having fun in all situations, good or bad! If you are enjoying yourself, it’s infectious and seeps into every member of your staff. What’s more, if you are having fun, you will reach your goals quicker as your team will play harder for you. Not to mention, they will most likely stay on your team as a fun and enjoyable environment is where most people want to remain working long term.

Damian Lang owns and operates four companies in Ohio. He is the inventor of the Grout Hog???Grout Delivery System, Mud Hog mortar mixers, Hog Leg wall bracing system and several other labor saving devices used in the masonry industry. He is the author of the book “RACE???Rewarding And Challenging Employees for Profits in Masonry.” He writes for Masonry Magazine each month and consults with many of the leading mason contractors in the country.

All rights reserved, ?? 2014 Damian Lang, President of Lang Masonry Contractors, Inc., and EZ Grout Corp.

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