Change your Channel
by Mike J. Agugliaro
Don’t fall into the ”technician’s trap” by only focusing on your technical skills. Change to a better program that’s devoted to your growth as a businessperson.
When it comes to home services business successes and failures, I’ve experienced both of those positions – and everywhere in between. Consequently, when my company recently hit the $23 million mark in annual revenue, people started asking me, “What is the key to your success?”
The short answer: I changed my channel.
Think of your life as having “channels.” These channels are ways that we receive information that affect how we think or act. Too many home services professionals are stuck in the “technician’s channel.” by only emphasizing their narrow technical expertise.
To achieve your fullest potential as a home services professional, you need to broaden your mindset and change to a channel that encompasses a wide array of business skills.
Success for me didn’t just happen. Over the last 20 years, a lot of hard work was involved in building my business. That hard work included many mistakes, 14 to 16 hour days and times when I wanted to just give up and take a conventional ninetofive job. I’d often think to myself,
“Let someone else be a struggling entrepreneur, “I’ve had enough!”
I’ve learned so much about running a business I could write a book, but I’m sure very few of the people I want to help would have the time to read it. More to the point, they don’t think they have the time to read something that would help them because they’re stuck in the “I’m too busy, exhausted and overworked” channel to read anything.
And that’s where this publication comes in. We’ve designed Home ServiceMax magazine as a learning tool for home services professionals who want to raise their game but who don’t necessarily have a lot of time to read books or long, windy white papers. The articles in this magazine are informative and packed with actionable advice – but they’re also entertaining, colorful and fun to read. And they’re succinct, with your precious time in mind.
Each issue strives to give you “Aha” moments – those moments of self-awareness that will help you better run your business. As a home services entrepreneur, I worked for about 10 years without attaining what I felt was real success. I was still working long hours, barely saw my family, was probably pretty grumpy and not having much fun.
My epiphany came with the realization that I was in what I call the technician’s trap. I needed to evolve beyond my technical expertise and become an entrepreneur with a strategic business view.
It was a liberating (albeit challenging) insight.
I was great at what I did; I knew every aspect of the technical work. I incessantly studied, stayed current with the latest equipment and servicing recommendations. I went to classes and kept uptodate on my licenses and certifications. But I was still doing the same thing I’d been doing for 10 years.
As a technician, you have two options: Work for someone else and move around until you find a business you’d like to stay with, or start your own business.
“My epiphany came with the realization that I was in what I call the technician’s trap. I needed to evolve beyond my technical expertise and become an entrepreneur with a strategic business view.” – Mike Agugliaro
A New Perspective
The big problem with the latter option is many technicians are great technicians, but not very good at building a business. To be effective as business owners, technicians need to change their point of view – to change the channel, as it were. A business doesn’t work in a logical fashion, such as a toilet or a water heater. Once you have the expertise in fixing toilets you know how and why it works and what to do about it.
All plumbing companies can fix toilets. To grow a plumbing business, you need more than plumbers – you need good sales people, marketing savvy, best hiring practices, systems, processes, financial and human resources support, and great managers.
This is why so many technicianowned businesses struggle and why I decided to “change me.” I was one of those technicians who felt I was so good at what I did that no other technician could do as good a job. That’s why I held on tight to my belief that no one else could be as committed to the business.
This fallacy is what keeps a lot of service business owners in the technician’s trap. They’re hesitant to expand because they fear losing control of the high quality they prized when they started the business. They only trust themselves, which makes it hard to delegate.
“To learn and not to do is really not to learn.” Stephen R. Covey
I get calls through my extensive network from struggling business owners telling me they can’t find good technicians, or their market is difficult or the economy is hurting them. And the truth is, my business has done great over the last five years, regardless of economic ups and downs, or the availability of welltrained workers.
Success involves more than employees, customers or the economy. Running a good business means you need to change your belief system and attitude about what it takes to be successful.
During the first decade of my business, I struggled because I still believed I would never be able to find employees as good as me. And I was so wrong. I finally decided that I couldn’t believe that anymore if I intended to grow my company. I embarked on a journey of learning and change – a journey that continues to this day.
It was like that proverbial guy who keeps hitting his head on the wall. He always has a headache.
But he keeps banging his head every day, just as he did the day before. Until he changes his behavior, he’ll never lose that headache long enough to see things clearly.
Stop banging your head. Alleviate your business headaches, by attending courses, lectures and trade shows. Seek advice from thought leaders in the home services field. Read, study and practice.
Above all, apply your learning into realworld action. In the words of the influential management guru and bestselling author Stephen R Covey: “To learn and not to do is really not to learn.”
Surround yourself with the smartest experts you can find in finance, accounting, HR – you name it. Devote yourself to a regimen of continual betterment in the basics of business. Change your channel to the best possible program: the story of your personal and professional growth.