ProVent Plumbing Products | Lagina Agency | Wisconsin | Illinois

Business Blog

Whoa Whoa Whoa plumbing contractors take a break!

What I see in the marketplace right now is everyone

is scurrying around push push push and no plan plan plan.

 

That’s right I said it far too many small business contractors seem to think that their field foreman

will do what the ownership and project managers should do but don’t.

Take the time to create a plan and then work the plan to a successful end. Make changes that are going

to keep your business on the track to growth and strength.

Remember when the music stops (the business market slows down) what will keep your business moving?

Be Organized, Be Motivated, Be Diligent and Be Seen in the marketplace at the leader not the same old same old.

The New Year is Here!

The Opportunities Abound!

Take Risks that Change your Business!

Never Look Back!

The Best is Yet to Come!

Thinking like a Business Owner? You Better!

Have you ever gone to a large Plumbing Industry function and stopped to say “These guys and Gals here get it”. Wow. We had attended a plumbing contractor conference and trade show program in Minnesota recently and no matter the place and location the conversation amongst the attendees was what’s new, what’s different and how are we going to stay “In Front” of the competition in the future.

 

No crying baby syndrome of how will he do that job for that price or who does he think he is competing against us? All positive talk from what sure seemed like the cream of the crop at this conference. The Trade show portion of the event was one of the best interactive shows I had been a part of in the last 10 years with contractors willing to wait until you were done talking to the guys ahead of them to engage with your booth product offerings.

 

The Plumbing Industry in the United States today is filled with some very gifted and talented people skilled in design, installation and management of their respective projects and businesses. My hope for the future is that the Wisdom from the company owners who are looking at golfing and fishing in the future will share the basis of their success with the upcoming leadership.

 

Plumbing Company owners these days must wear a heck of a lot of hats, people manager, project manager, finance manager and the list goes on yet they need a real Business Plan the road map for the future. Written and understood by the Owners and Stakeholders of the company to forge ahead many times in uncharted waters it’s your strategy for success.

 

Chick-Fil-A Founder Truett Cathy had a life saying “Take advantage of unexpected opportunities” and it is true today as ever.

 

Carry on and Make your mark one day a time.

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Have Plumbing Companies lost their edge?

Many years ago in the Milwaukee market there were a number of plumbing contractors who were best known as the restaurant guys, the office building guys, the high rise guys, the school guys and the list went on and on. You knew if you were going to bid one of these projects what and who you were up against and you better be prepared to bring your most creative and productive solutions to the bid tab.

But how times have changed and who is the best of class plumbing contractor has become a vanilla wrapper “We are good at everything” concept and we don’t have to cultivate new customers they will just come to us in droves.

Bidding another job with the same materials, fixtures, plumber/apprentice mix and margin will get you just that another job bid with no idea where you stack up against the competition. Is that really the way you want your company to control its future destiny? I don’t think so.

Building your plumbing brand one step at a time is the basis for the future growth of your business so why not jump in with both feet. Here are a few pointers that will go a long way.

  • Pick-up the phone. Yes take the time to call a prospective builder or developer and let them know you are interested in their book of business. Time for coffee once a week with a potential new customer gets you 50 plus new contacts for new business.
  • Company Branding. Whether you use a company website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or some other social media or print media format are you conveying a clear message of who you are and your company’s capabilities. If you cannot tell a simple story about your company and the strengths you bring to the table who else do you think will?
  • Assess your Team. This is tough for many since the average contractor thinks all of his office staff are terrific and the field staff can do no wrong. The honest evaluation of every team member strengths and weaknesses are vital to placing a roadmap for the necessary training and equipping for the future business you hope to garner. Putting the best team on the field to represent your company matters.
  • Assess your Design and Installation Methods. This is where the same old same old will bite you terribly if you continue it. There are materials, methods and design systems that can make the difference in your labor and material equation of your bids. Your competitors are always looking for that edge the question is are you doing the same thing?
  • Attracting New Construction Leads. If your only form of finding out about new project bid opportunities is reading the daily construction paper STOP NOW? Its old news and it’s not where you get a heads up on projects many times months ahead of your competition. There are so many good project lead options such as BidClerk, Bid Tool, Reed Construction Data and the list goes on. You need to wrap your head around getting the best data earlier so that you can pursue what you do best not just the marketplace’s leftovers with 10 bidders acting like a pack of dogs to red meat. These project lead programs give you real value and do your homework to see what fits you best.

That is all for now since this really is at the heart of where you need to review your existing business development practices and DO SOMETHING different so you don’t end up on the pile of companies that could have been great yet chose to fade away.

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Leadership – A Big word with Bigger consequences if you are not up to the challenge in today’s marketplace. Loss of business or even your business without leading.

Definition of LeadershipLeadership has been described as “a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task

To be a “Plumber” or  be a “Businessman” managing and leading their companies daily I see is the most difficult obstacle in our industry today bar none. Some owners want to make everyone “Happy” and just do the same old thing not rocking the boat much and then they wonder why business drives by them to companies that know and understand risk that comes from real leadership at the top.

As I meet owners of plumbing companies each week in my travels the question that seems to take them longer to answer than any others is what are you changing or implementing now to make your business more successful in the future? I seem to loose eye contact with many of these owners and they recognize that they have chosen to just bid another project with the same methods and materials instead of investigating what’s new and could save them time and money moving forward.

Yet I am encouraged by the amount of young and more mature owners that get it! These owners are not waiting for their competitors to use the new products and methods first and then they will jump in. From their lead project managers down to the apprentice ranks they ask the question” what do you see new out in the industry via local mfg rep, wholesale house, industry periodical and the list goes on that we should research and try?

No harm no foul to bring manufacturers reps like us in to present new and innovative products that will take just minutes from your “Bid Schedule” day. Check the data against your past experience, pricing in the market or even do an in- house time study product by product side by side.

Trust me when I say that buy in from your field crews is a whole lot easier if they witness the time and money saved doing the side by side comparison. Their eyes are like deer they get it. The old adage of if we use that new product or system it will eliminate my job and others is really still just BS.

So at the end of the day some will say so what and keep on their merry way while others will say wait a minute we need to “Change” and it starts with my Leadership at the top!

One of Knute Rockne’s Ten Commandments in life was about   Leadership: The willingness to help, guide or direct, in the right way, by example, words or actions.

In our world today in the sea of government, business and industry leaders showing little or no real leadership passing the buck at every turn we must break the cycle and be Real Leaders to our families, employees and customers. I am up to the challenge are you?

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Hello, This message is for all of us.

To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. Winston Churchill

Change can bring the enviable questions of why? Why now? For what? For who?  You see many folks in business always want others to change around them so they do have to be one’s that take the leap of faith to go into unchartered waters and unfamiliar territory. Many grow weary with making the significant change that will resurrect a career, bring back physical health and allow a person to make real contributions to society.

We see companies that have resisted change in their organization and today they are no longer relevant. You too can start today to make great strides in changing habits that as of yesterday may have brought you success yet tomorrow with not get you to first base on that next deal.

Check out what’s next around the corner from your company- New, Innovative and move ahead!

Handle the challenges that come your way with open arms. Never give up!

Aspire to greatness with your thoughts and mind. What will it take for you to make change work for you?

Next year’s strategy for your success starts now! Why wait!

Grab hold of the fears that have kept you back and drop them by the wayside! Move on!

Enter a new era for yourself, your family, your business all because of Change.

 

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The Year of the Customer

The new adventure begins for all of us in the small business arena. Many will update sales projections, others will change the color and size of their brochures and still others will modify the company’s strategic business plan only to return it to the dust laden top shelf it sat on last year. Some of this matters unfortunately most does nothing to help the customer buy more of your product or service and build your brand.

Yet that is not where business will be generated this year or any year from now on or in the future. Business transactions between companies large and small will happen between men and women in the marketplace who can provide true value to the customer that will bring efficiency and profitable increases that will help your customer grow their business.

Satisfying the customer is all that matters to me since if we cannot take care of them off they go to the competition possibly never to come back. So get to know what makes your customer tick and I don’t mean just a trip to the golf course once a year so you can show them your new driver. Know and be a student of their respective business, what they make, how they make it, bring new innovative ideas to them on a regular basis from your company you will be amazed at what happens to those relationships built on trust, accountability, vulnerability and service.

So what’s your customer service like today prompt, pro-active and engaging or terrible and getting worse? Happy 2013 what we do with this year will matter most to the one’s we serve each day!

 Networker or Lone Ranger - Which one are you?

You all know that when you travel for business by car you can listen to your favorite music, check out the scenery along the roadside or just enjoy the quiet time to reflect on what is important to you on the way to your next appointment. Driving down to Chicago last week for me was a real good opportunity in the quiet of the highway to reflect on what I see as the single most important factor for a successful business.

Your network yes I said it your business network of close associates i.e. attorney, accountant, property manager, sales account contacts and arms length people like your drycleaner, butcher, doctor, dentist, real estate brokers is the most valuable tool to succeed in todays marketplace. Even though I may know a great deal of people in my market, with the help of the people in my circle of influence that list literally explodes with new names for possible business sales  helping you get to the person or company you may have wanted to with just one e-mail or phone call.

How about your extended network on the business side such as LinkedIn are you actively utilizing this growing network of individuals and companies that locate good and services every day with their contacts? If not, you are not realizing the power of a true relational business network and limit the real success of your company and the future opportunities your network can bring.

So it’s your choice build a great network of people you can help along the way with your personal and business contacts or be like the guy above The Lone Ranger going and doing it all by yourself working 7 days a week and getting no further ahead is not where it’s at.

So Where are you at? Till next time.

 

Our Marketplace sure is changing

Recently while attending the Illinois Real Estate Journal’s Apartment and Multifamily Summit in Chicago it struck me how much our world is dramatically changing. With Cities like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia seemingly becoming 24 hour cities such the same as Hong Kong, Tokyo, London and Paris where businesses never close and people really do not go home for long. The average size of apartments has shrunk to below 800 sq. ft. yet the rents charged have reached almost 3 dollars per sq. ft. With the dynamics of where people choose to live, work and play meeting their expectations will challenge developers and construction contractors to be at the top of their game with creative options.

Will the cost of money for construction projects remain at all-time lows yet with restrictive covenants requiring developers and builders to keep a personal interest in these projects for up to 10 years keep new and exciting buildings from coming online? The jury is out on this subject yet the time has come for more prefabrication, modularization and cost saving ways to meet the demands of the future. This means each one of us in the construction business need to look in our own backyards for ways to be innovative, cost effective and bring quality solutions to the table.

I would challenge each of our visitors on Laginaagency.com to take stock in what lies ahead for your book of business and how stepping out with a new approach in problem solving can bring great accomplishments.

“Though we agree that change is an important facet of life, we often fail to accept change. Perspective gets clouded by emotions. Beliefs get overshadowed with doubts”. 

Olympic Thoughts for Business

Ah the Olympics are here Hoorah! 17 days of a wide range of sports from diving to handball, judo to swimming, table tennis to the triathlon so you get the picture. Men and Women from all walks of life yet with extraordinary skill and focus to their respective sport. So what allows them to attain such high levels of competiveness when it really matters?

Cael Sanderson Olympic Wrestling Gold medal winner and now Penn States Wrestling Coach gives us the list of “Champion Traits” of successful Olympians.

  • Highly Motivated, Committed and Determined
  • Optimistic and Positive
  • Positive Perfectionists
  • Uncanny ability to Focus
  • Ability to handle Stress and Cope with Adversity
  • Mentally Tough
  • Sport Intelligence

So the list above begs the question do we have those traits each and every day in our business world? Are we optimistic in every and all situations? Can we focus on what matters most all the time? Are we highly motivated and committed to our customers and their needs not just ours? You get my drift since Olympic skills are needed in our marketplace and on display daily not just brought out of the closet every four years.

So what “Champion Traits” are you committed to working on to improve the results in your business world? Take one a month and really step back and focus on what you in your own little world can reach Olympic Heights!

 

 

Welcome to the launch of our “Window to the World” regarding Innovative Plumbing products and systems. The choice for Engineers and Contractors to do exactly the same thing year after year may work in some circles of construction yet owners and their representatives have seen tremendous success in our industry by demanding companies utilize technology, new materials and time tested non-traditionally designed and engineered piping systems.

Innovation and Implementation should be at the top of list when it comes to Strategic Plumbing Industry competiveness. Throughout the States of Wisconsin and Illinois as I travel and meet with Plumbing Engineers, Contractors and Wholesalers the basis for their success is the Creativity and Diligence shown by their entire organization for the customer.

Check back often for interesting stories we find in our daily travels representing ProVent and ProSet Systems, Both terrific companies with inspiring leadership that wants to make a difference in the World of Plumbing.

Jim Lagina

Innovation In Motion