Is There A Book Inside of You?
Originally published: 02.01.12 by Greg McAfee
How and why one contractor is sharing his story to encourage you to dream.
Why did you write the book?
Over the past few years, I’ve been teaching HVAC owners how to grow their businesses. I’ve also enjoyed writing business articles for a variety of trade magazines. During these experiences, I often received positive comments, and many readers asked, “So when are you going to write a book?” Not only that, but a good friend suggested I write a book for the sake of my kids as a way to leave my thoughts and dreams as a legacy in book form so they can look back on it later. That confirmed that I should do it.
How long did it take you to write the book and did you have a “process” or routine that you used to write while you ran your business?
It has been on my mind for over three years, but it took me a total of two-and-a-half- years to write it. As far as a process, I designated a time for the sole purpose of writing, and that worked most of the time. After a year or so of not getting the results I wanted, I made the wise decision to hire a freelance writer to come in once a week and interview me. She held me accountable by first getting me to name the chapters and then asking me the pertinent questions for each one until we had gathered enough information to compile a book.
Is this your first book?
Yes. While I’ve written shorter pieces such as trade magazine articles, this is my very first book, but hopefully the first of many.
How did you choose a publisher and editor?
I self-published my book because I discovered that it is a cost-effective method of publication that is relatively fast, pays much better than standard royalty contracts, and allows the author to maintain control over the publishing process, depending on what publisher or book printer you choose. I interviewed a few publishing companies, but since I like to do business with local guys, I chose Greyden Press LLC right here in Dayton, Ohio. We went through several rounds of inhouse edits before I hired an outside independent freelance book editor from the Springfield, Ohio, area, Autumn Conley. She did a great job of helping us to smooth out the edges.
Do you plan to use the book to market your business?
That was not my original intention; however, I’ve marketed my business so well over the past 21 years, and I appear in my own T.V. and radio commercials, so when I market the book locally, it is tied in with my business.
Do you plan to use the book for training new employees?
Yes. A few chapters tie in very well with team training, particularly “Be
Teachable” and “Be Passionate.” My team knows we all must be willing to learn more and to give 110% in everything we do, and these lessons are included in the book.
Have you been offered speaking engagements because of the book?
Yes. I have spoken a dozen or so times and have more talks lined up on my agenda. I enjoy meeting and talking to people and this is another way to allow people in my area to know more about my book and my company, and how they can be a success in their own endeavors.
What was the most difficult part of writing the book?
There is nothing easy about writing a book while you are also busy leading others and running a business, but the most difficult part for me was signing off on it going to print, just hoping we caught all the mistakes.
Do you plan to write another one?
Yes, and I have already somewhat started the outline for my next book — a fun, yet challenging fiction story about small business.
Did you have fun writing this book?
The overall experience was fun. It made me revisit all the trial and error we went through in the beginning stages of my business. It was a challenge to meet the goal of completing it, but it is a milestone to have the published book in hand and know that it is reaching others.
What a Board Provides
“Before I had a board, I didn’t realize how much I needed one. They have brought to me accountability, resources, and a challenge that has pushed our company to new heights and a more stable future.
“The accountability they provide is crucial. I know the goals I set will be brought before me again. I also know that there are three people who aren’t going to let me get away with making unwise decisions. Without a board, I made poor decisions because I didn’t have that high level of accountability.”
The Importance of Training
“What separates a good company from a great company can be the amount of training they invest in. We spend thousands of dollars in training each year, both internally and externally.”
Care In Customer Service
“Our customer service representatives are also thoroughly trained on telephone skills, from their tone of voice to how to politely take control of the call. We believe so strongly in professional phone skills that we require two weeks of training before they are even allowed to answer a call and put a customer on hold.”
“You might think, But I’m just a small business owner installing air conditioners and fixing furnaces. How innovative can I be? Let me assure you that innovation is the key to surviving!
Innovation simply means coming up with new and better ways of doing something. It means taking an old way of thinking—even something as simple as how you schedule your appointments— and figuring out how to do it better.”
Invest in Marketing
“A major mistake a small business makes is considering advertising an expense [it] cannot afford. It can take decades to build a strong word-of-mouth business. In fact, it took us 10 to 15 years to build a consistent stream of business from word-of-mouth referrals.
It’s a wonderful compliment to have a customer call because they’ve heard great things about you from a trusted friend. However, relying on word-of-mouth alone will render your business growth an even slower and arduous process.”
Creating a Culture of Selflessness
“Most people assume giving starts with a check written to a charity or with a few hours of volunteer time. In a company, though, it really starts with the standards you set for how you treat your customers and employees. Giving should start at home. We pay our people well and provide good benefits. I’ve extended no-interest loans to employees caught in tough situations and allowed them to pay us back over time.
Seeing employees build solid lives for their families motivates me to carry on with my dream.”
Articles by Greg McAfee
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Anticipate, delegate, train: 3 keys to crisis management for HVACR business owners.
The Transformational Leader
What it Takes to Move Beyond Transactional Leadership
In Pursuit of Profits
As an owner, being profitable means earning enough money to cover all your obligations, both business and personal, with some left over to invest as you please. These six strategies will help.
5 Common Sense Rules for Leaders
These five common sense rules will help you become the leader your team will follow.
6 Keys to Hiring A-Player Service Technicians
In communications and computing, what we thought was the best yesterday does not even come into play today. It’s not much different in the HVACR industry. Although we’ve not evolved as quickly, the days of a standing-pilot and single-stage motor are all but over, and being just a “good mechanic” is only part of the modern service technician’s job. Here are six ways to hire the best of the bunch.