I thought it was a great headline. Smeared across the front of 20,000 postcards with a huge picture of a cow’s face, we sent them out in a last-ditch effort to get the phone to ring. We had been having an extremely slow spring in 2011 with very little work coming in the door.
My husband, Ryan, who is the co-owner of our company, had invested what was left of our checking account into this mailing, with the hope that this postcard would produce thousands.
It didn’t. It flopped.
We had very few calls from the postcard. We weren’t sure what happened. Was it the message? The offer? The timing? The aftermath from the recession of 2008? In hindsight, we determined it was probably a combination of all of those things.
My husband had been fearlessly wearing the hat of “Marketing Specialist” in our HVACR company. He wore that hat along with the Comfort Advisor hat, the Service Manager hat, the Install Manager hat, as well as the overall General Manager hat.
He was stretched thin and feeling the effects of wearing too many hats.
This is a very common scenario in our industry. Many smaller HVACR companies struggle with growth because the owner is wearing too many hats and tries to focus on too many areas in their business.
At this time in our business, Ryan had been in the HVACR industry longer than I had, so he naturally headed up the marketing and advertising for the business. He knew technical terms, proper pricing and many other things that I did not know.
But I had something that Ryan did not. I had different creative experiences from my time as a teacher, an art consultant, and as a woman. I mean, let’s face it, men and women think differently.
After the cow postcard failed miserably, Ryan asked if I would like to take a shot at marketing. He knew I had a creative side that I loved to use, and I also had the similar viewpoint of a customer … someone that didn’t know or understand technical HVACR terms or language.
I knew that to be effective in marketing, I would have to relate to my customers on their level, address their needs, and speak their language in an appealing and creative way. I accepted his challenge.
I can’t say that I have mastered the Marketing World, but I took classes, studied and observed other successful companies, and started building a solid brand.
With Ryan’s input and his total support, he encouraged me and guided me in my marketing endeavors. As we began to experience success, marketing became my passion.
I began working with a marketing consultant, and with Ryan’s technical input, we began to make a big difference with our marketing. Our company was getting recognized locally and nationally through our various marketing tactics.
One of the reasons I love having a business partner is that my business really benefits from having two owners, with two different sets of skills and talents.
As we continue to identify and recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses, we refine our roles to align for the betterment of our business.
When I work with business owners to help them delegate the hats that are not the best fit, or need to be passed on, I suggest these four simple steps:
1. Make a list of your “hats” or responsibilities in your company. Rank your hats according to:
Once you have the big picture of all of your hats, you can evaluate your situation and determine the hats you want to keep as well as the ones that may be best to delegate.
2. Search for and recognize the good qualities in your partner or your team members.
“Anyone can find the dirt in someone. Be the one who finds the gold.” — Proverbs 7:11
Intentionally seek for the amazing potential in your partner and in your team. Everyone has gifts, talents and skills that go unrecognized and unused.
3. When you find those strengths, acknowledge them! Verbal compliments, texts, email and notes can make a big impact on an individual. Often, people just want someone to believe in them. As you nurture that team member, you can unlock their potential and accelerate their growth! Don’t be afraid to assign them additional roles that you, or others, are currently doing.
4. Train with systems and processes. Communicate with clear expectations and instructions so that you can set them up for success. Meet regularly to track their progress and give additional guidance.
Success can accelerate when business owners have the right people wearing the right hats. Seek to improve your own strengths and identify and nurture the strengths of others. Most importantly, when you find someone with the potential to do the job better than you do it, then it’s time to give up the hat, pass it on, and never look back!
While some business owners find more freedom and growth as they delegate, there are a few things they need to continue to do themselves.
Many smaller HVACR companies struggle with growth because the owner is wearing too many hats and tries to focus on too many areas in their business.
A culture of accountability will make a good organization great, and a great organization unstoppable.
Acknowledge and compliment your partner’s strengths, their great qualities and the good they bring to your business.
You just never know when you will run into a woman who has the skills, drive, desire or ability to become your next superstar technician.