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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Setting up Your Kids for Failure

Hey parents! Spending a bunch of money on a college degree may be the worst investment ever. In the past 10-15 years, parents and high school students have been led to believe that a college degree is a must have to become successful. About 40% never finish college then believe they are a failure and go on to work in an unskilled job that will never lead to a rewarding career. In fact a larger and larger percentage of college graduates begin their careers in a job that requires nothing but a high school diploma, and they stay in it for years because they lack any skills that are needed in the workplace. They wasted time and money in getting a degree in something they found interesting, rather than useful. Seems no one is taking a look at the market and trying to find a skill, talent or career in something that people want to pay for.
I remember discussing this in one of my workshops and I mentioned a degree in Anthropology for example, as something that would limit your marketability. I had someone in the group tell me they had a degree in Anthropology. I asked her how long ago she graduated and what she was doing now and how much she was being paid. She said she graduated five years ago, currently in her fourth job since graduating. Since college has worked in various jobs in hotels and restaurants. Most recently she is working in a clerical position supporting a sales team. Current pay is $12.75 an hour. Still paying off student loans.

Recent studies have shown that a beginner plumbers apprentice, with no experience, makes more than the average four year college graduate. As the years go by, statistically, we are finding that over a lifetime, a person would be much better off financially in their career choices to get a job in the skills trades, simply because the demand is so high, causing the average pay to continue to climb.

Most of my customers are contractors and are struggling to find employees. When I ask what the qualifications are, I hear things like, "Someone who is willing to learn, drug free, will show up everyday, follows instructions well, good communication skills, knows how to use hand tools and is friendly and can work well with others."
Unfortunately, parents today don't raise their children with the understanding of how important these simple basic skills are to becoming happy and successful. I would bet if you asked the average 18 year old to go find a crescent wrench or Phillips screwdriver in a tool box, they wouldn't know what to look for. But I would bet money that they would be able to tell you everything about the life of Kim Kardashian or what the latest trends in shoe wear is.
We need to get our kids ready for life folks. It's going to be a very difficult future if we don't stop and realize that the future of our country is at risk here. Stop kissing your kids butts and telling them it's okay to waste all of that money and time on something they find interesting now. Encourage them to look at the job market and plan for the future. Otherwise their short term goals of being entertained in college will result in a long term feeling of being a dismal failure. Unless of course you are happy having them hanging out in your home and being taken care of by you the rest of eternity.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Six Important Things to Consider Every New Year in Your Business


1. How to Increase Sales
What changes can can be made in the coming year that will help increase sales to your customers in the next twelve months? Will it be a new pricing structure? Sales training for employees? Or maybe a new advertising campaign that actually works. Keep in mind about 70% of your clients are repeat customers. What can you do to get them to spend a bit more or use your product or service more often?

2. Dump Non-Profitable Services and/or Products
How may things are you involved with that generates virtually no profit? Focus on products and services that provide a high return on your investment. If it hasn't paid off yet, it never will.

3. Look for New Profitable Services and Products
Is there anything that you should be offering that you are not? Maybe you should take a second look at what you were considering when you went to the last trade show or conference. Perhaps adding a service to your menu may bring in more clients that you couldn't get otherwise.

4. Evaluate Your Relationships at Work
Every team member needs to hear from a manager as to how they are doing and what is expected from them this year. This is also a good time to look over your business relationships like, partners, vendors and suppliers. Are you really benefiting from this relationship or not?

5. Evaluate Your Systems and Processes
No better time than right now to figure out what you are doing well and not so well, and how you can improve it. Get your team involved in this. (Click here for a link to a video I made on that subject.) You may also be missing some incredible efficiency improvement methods by not considering a technology change. There are so many systems available out there that make running businesses easier, that you would be an idiot to not check them out.

6. Find New Ways to "WOW" Your Customers
Customers make buying decisions primarily based on emotions. Busilding relationships, creating awesome experiences and doing things none of your competitors will do is what makes you the best at your game. Constantly be on the lookout on what can be done to enhance what you offer your clients. Try calling and asking them, it does make a difference.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Fundamental Attribution Error

Many managers struggle with employee performance, motivation and attitude. As a business coach, I find the majority of time, it is not the employee creating the problem, it is a poor process or lack of a process altogether. The following is an article discussing "Fundamental Attribution Error" I believe you will enjoy it!
In social psychology, the fundamental attribution error, also known as the correspondence bias or attribution effect, is the tendency for people to place an undue emphasis on internal characteristics (personality) to explain someone else's behavior in a given situation rather than considering the situation's external factors. It does not explain interpretations of one's own behavior, where situational factors are more easily recognized and can thus be taken into consideration. Conversely, from the other perspective, this error is known as the actor-observer bias, in which people tend to overemphasize the role of a situation in their behaviors and underemphasize the role of their own personalities. The phrase was coined by Lee Ross some years after a classic experiment by Edward E. Jones and Victor Harris (1967). What does "Fundamental Attribution Error" mean in business? Managers and supervisors have a tendency to look at a team member and place blame on their inability to perform on the persons internal characteristics or personality. In other words, we believe a team member cannot do the job because of who they are or how they think. I've had hundreds of employees in my past, and as you probably agree, people are different. We think differently, act differently and respond to stimulus differently. This being the case, leaders should also recognize that different personalities respond differently dependent upon the type of environment, the tools they have, information that is presented to them and how it is presented. So how does this relate to the job? Beware of blaming people for things they really have no control over or are simply doing what they think is right in the environment they are and with the tools they have. For example: Let's say you have an employee who may have a problem completing a series of tasks in a specified order at a specified time. Instead, this person occasionally forgets steps, takes too long or just fails to document what they did. To the manager, this may seem as a simple act of insubordination or lack of concern on the part of the employee. The manager just committed "fundamental attribution error". Instead of looking for a process or method to resolve the challenge, blame was immediately placed on the employee and his or her personality traits or work ethic. The problem could have been corrected with a simple check list or log that allowed the employee to confirm and verify that all taske were completed and when they were completed. What I recommend is to have a system or process that encourages, measures and confirms specific tasks that limit the possibility of error rather than hoping someone follows verbal instructions and remembers everything they were told to do. I speak about this quite a bit in my workshops. Reduce or eliminate problems by focusing on the process rather than the person. Improve the process so that it is dummy proof and you eliminate the error. Don't expect everyone to know exactly what to do everyday, for every situation. Allow them the opportunity to have the information and resources to do the job as intended, at the time when it is most needed. Don't commit fundamental attribution error. I had a boss who told me many years ago; "If you eliminate all possible excuses from an employee, they have no reason to not perform well".

Monday, September 21, 2015

Acquiring and Motivating New Employees

One comment I hear a lot is “I can’t find anyone who wants to work!” or “I can’t get my employees motivated!” I’ve always said, “Manage processes, not people”. If you have the right processes in place, with the right people, include the right motivating factors, they won’t need someone to tell them what they need to do, they will already know and they will want to do it, the right way. One of the best articles I ever read about getting better employees was “Business Buzz” by Tom Grandy in last month’s issue, titled, “The Tech Shortage is Really a Pricing Problem!”. I encourage you to find it and read it. Mr. Grandy points out that increasing employee pay and benefits, plus, transitioning over to a flat rate pricing system, is a very simple way to encourage potential employees to come work for you. Want the best employees showing up at your door? Be the best place to work by offering the best pay and benefits anywhere! Since Mr. Grandy did such an awesome job pointing out how to get people showing up wanting to work for you, I will focus on motivational factors of new employees. Over 44% of the workforce in HVAC will retire in the next ten years*. That will leave a huge hole in an industry whose employment needs are projected to grow 21% through 2022*, faster than any other occupation! So now we have an aging workforce leaving with a new generation of workers coming in with a set of different motivating factors and different goals. We need to be ready to handle this. Below is a report put out by “The Intelligence Group” a business investigations and intelligence firm. Here are the results of a study about millennials in 2015; • Will make up more than 40% of the workforce by 2020 • 64% of them say it’s a priority for them to make the world a better place. • 72% would like to be their own boss. But if they do have to work for a boss, 79% of them would want that boss to serve more as a coach or mentor. • 88% prefer a collaborative work-culture rather than a competitive one. • 74% want flexible work schedules. • 88% want “work-life integration,” which isn’t the same as work-life balance, since work and life now blend together inextricably. • 80% said they use social media and the internet as a primary source of news and information. • 64% would rather make $40,000 per year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they think is boring. How do these statistics apply to an HVAC business? Since I am limited in space for this article, I cannot get into great detail or specifics, but I will say that all of these factors have to be taken into consideration when hiring and managing employees. For example, since 88% prefer a collaborative work culture rather than a competitive one, set up goals and contests that reward the team along with individual compensation. As far as offering flexible work schedules, I already know of several contractors who have set up four-day work weeks, allowing a longer period of time off. Some employees may not mind working four, ten or twelve hour days if they could get a long weekend. Since they consider work and personal life blended, a company should consider having the employees spouse or family involved in company activities if possible. Insight into a person’s workday may help the spouse have a better understanding into what is really going on every day. I would also highly recommend that your set of work rules and employee handbook be rewritten by the employees every 2-3 years simply to get input from the team. If they made the rules, they are more likely to agree and go along with them. Being that social media and the internet is such a big part of their life, make the use of technology as part of their jobs. Everything an employee should need to perform their job should be made available when they need it. Those who have the most information always do best. I encourage you to look at some of the technologies available that make it easier for employees to do their jobs by having the information they need to do it available through a link online. If you don’t know where to find these systems, go to my website at frankpresents.com. I have a list of various resources that will help. We have to begin looking at people differently. Getting people to do something just for the pay isn’t enough. The employees of today and the future want more, they want to have some control over their routines, they want some say into the future of the company they work for, they want to have more time with their family and they want to feel like it isn’t just work. They want to have access to information when they need it. They want to believe what they do makes a difference. They want to be proud of what they do and enjoy doing it. Changing everything to meet the needs of the future workforce doesn’t happen in a day. A few steps at a time will eventually get you there. Focusing on the needs of your team has to be a priority, because if it isn’t, you wind up with people who just show up to get paid, instead of driven, hard-working team members who want to win. Start making the change by asking and talking about what they want to see or do differently. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Free College?!? What the f--k?

I hear these politicians coming up with ideas and plans that everyone should get free college, tuition paid by taxpayers. We already have enough people going to college and graduating to come out with a degree in Music History, Art History, Anthropology, Philosophy or Creative Writing. None leading to a career in anything. Yes, let's have more of that!

Five words you should stop using in your advertising

Five words you should stop using in your advertising * Quality * Value * Service * Caring * Integrity I personally believe people have become numb to the claims of great service and high quality. Whenever I'm coaching a business I will regularly ask various employees in that business why a customer should select them over anyone else. I always hear the same things; we do quality work, great service, we care about the customer, honesty and integrity or great value. I'm sure you've seen these types of slogans in ads. "Quality Service", "Great Value", "Caring People", "Integrity Matters to us", Best Service Around" or this awesome statement; Value, Integrity, Quality and our Caring Staff is What Makes Our Service Great". So read these again and tell me if these words will make you want to do business with that company, versus the other fifty companies in your town who say the same thing. These five words, and other ones like "Honest" or "Best" really are useless too. If you live in most any large city, you've probably seen signs that say "Best Corned Beef Sandwich" or "World's Best Coffee" . . . Is it? . . . Really? How could it be possible to have so many places rated the best? I put on business workshops across the country and sometimes I'll ask the group; "Who provides honest, high quality service, has caring employees and provide a great value?" Everyone in the room raises their hand. Is there anyone out there who will admit their service and quality sucks? Imagine seeing an ad that says "We might suck at what we do, but, at least we are cheap!" In fact when someone asks me why they should invest in one of my workshops, I tell them "Because I'm going to change your life, you will change the way you do business forever, and if you don't believe you have gained valuable information and received a payback on your investment during the first hour of being there, I will refund your money, and you will be free to leave". I have yet to have anyone leave. Want to get a customer's attention? Tell the why you are different than everyone else. Let them know why you stand out from the rest. Tell them things like "Best warranty in the state", "Guaranteed on time arrival or it's free" or list a bunch of comments from real customers. Tell them your job is to make them happy! So happy that they will never go anywhere else and they will also tell all of their friends how awesome you are! Talk about why you are different and stop wasting time and money telling folks you are going to do what you are supposed to be doing anyway. What's special about doing the job you were paid to do? I know, I can hear you now. . . "But Frank, there are a lot of my competitors who do a bad job, are not honest, have bad quality and don't care" Of course, but I would bet money they say the same things in their ads that you do. So who will the customer believe is telling the truth? I recently had dinner at the Chop House in Lexington, KY. When I sat down I asked the waitress what she recommends. She said everything is really good and if I wasn't happy, they would do whatever it takes to make sure that had a great experience and would come back. I ordered a 9 ounce filet mignon and requested it be medium rare. Also had a salad, baked potato and a few cocktails. When the filet arrived, I immediately sliced it in two to check doneness and it was cooked completely through, well done. Just as I looked up, the waitress was there and asked how it was, I showed her and said "this is not medium rare". She asked if she could try it again, took the plate and later returned with a perfectly prepared filet mignon. When I went to pay the bill, she said, "don't worry, everything is on us". I was surprised, I said "really? Everything? She said "Yes, you're all set. I told you that we would make sure you were happy no matter what, didn't I? So are you happy?" Of course, I was thrilled and will definitely be back, I left her an incredible tip and left very happy and satisfied! Imagine telling your customer that if everything doesn't go well, it's free, and that all you care about is that they have a great experience and no matter what, you'll make it right. No matter what it takes. That is what you need to be telling your customers! One more thing, stop selling on price. Statements like: "We'll Beat any Competitors Quote. Low Price Guarantee. Quality Service at the Best Price" do nothing but attract price shoppers who are looking for someone to work cheap. Focus on customers who don't mind spending money for a great experience with a great business. Stop trolling the bottom of the barrel. You're much better than that.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Law of Exposure

Studies have shown that over 90% of our behavior is the result of what we've been exposed to on a repeated basis. What does this mean? It's the idea that if you tell someone something enough times that they will believe it is true, whether it is actually true or not. If you are told your whole life that your potential for success is limited simply because you are of a certain race, religion or ethnic background, and this is the fault of a specific group of people who want to "keep you down", you are almost guaranteeing failure and the only possibilty for self-gratification is to punish those who have caused this grief in your life. This, a result of a fabrication and belief that you were exposed to and told by many people, over and over again. I believe one of the major problems in the United States today is the idea that people are "owed" a certain level of success without contributing anything. Simply because the idea has been repeated over and over again, at home, on television, in church and the general media that they have been treated unfairly and deserve some level of compensation for it. I came to the United States as an immigrant when I was ten months old. The first day in America, in Washington DC, our capital, my parents arrived on a flight from Italy, went through customs and were basically lost. A man befriended my dad and showed them how to catch their connecting flight and said he would take care of their luggage for them, not to worry. Unfortunately, this man, who happened to be black was not really being helpful, he was thief who stole everything my parents owned. Everything they had was stolen, they had nothing. My parents did not blame every black person for this. My dad felt stupid and blamed himself for letting someone take advantage of him. As we grew up, I never heard anything negative about people of other races, I was not exposed to any prejudice except for the fact that my parents were not to thrilled with Germans, since they saw all of the horrible things that German soldiers did first hand in their villages during world war two. Many of my great aunts and uncles were taken to Dachau, a nazi concentration camp and some survived to tell their story. I was fortunate enough to hear what they had to say and maybe learn from it. It was when the American soldiers came in and treated them well, when my parents decided to move to America, the land of opportunity, a place of freedom. Somewhere that treats people fairly and everyone has the opportunity to become successful if you work at it.
If the law of exposure were true, and I believe it is, I learned as a child that all people are equal in the eyes of the Lord. I never looked down at anyone. So when it was time for me to go to Junior high school, this is seventh through the ninth grade in Cleveland, I did not have a problem going to Empire Junior High, even though I was the only white student there, who cares? I thought people would like me because I was different, heck, a lot of our neighbors were black and I had a story to tell about being an immigrant. My first day didn't turn out well. I was a very timid kid, kind of a dork with thick glasses. I never stood up to anyone and would try to talk people out of being violent and my mom always told me that if you are nice to others, they will be nice to you. I learned as a young teenager, this didn't work very well. I was beaten so badly that I had to be hospitalized, for being white. My dad didn't have insurance, he tried to get the school to pay for my medical bills, they didn't want to hear it. Witnesses said I started it. Well, the only witnesses were the fifteen or so thugs who beat on me. Nothing was done, no one was arrested, my dad had to pay all of the medical bills himself. All that happened was that my parents sent me to St. Vitus an all-white private school. My parents struggled to pay fr my tuition and eventually ran into some fiancial issues and sent me back to the public school system. I was sent to Collinwood High School. So what happened there? I was beat up again during a racial riot and hospitalized simmply for being timid and white. The crazy part was that some of my black friends were even in on the attack. None of it made any sense. At that point I learned how to fight and decided that I would not take any abuse from anyone and I wouldn't trust anyone I figured out that if I stood up to people who were thugs and didn't take any of their verbal abuse, it would never get to the point where it became physical. People learned to leave me alone after that. I was known as a crazy person, weirdo, who could probably not have a problem killing someone. It worked well. Still today, I don't understand why people who attack me, simply for existing, believe I owe them something. I have to chalk it up to the "Law of Exposure". their actions were not a personal, thought out decision to attack someone, it was a mob mentality. A response based on the idea that they believe all of there ills, all of their problems were coming from white people. So naturally when the opportunity presented itself to vent the frustration and anger, they took it. So whose fault is this? I blame the media, movies, music and the idiots who go around claiming they and their race have been tretaed unfairly like Al Sharpton and Barack Obama. Barack Obama was raised by rich white people and had everything he ever wanted. I have more of a connection and understanding of what it is like to be poor and in the ghetto than Obama, cause that is where I grew up. I make it a point in life to surround myself with successful people. I know, because of exposure, I will think more like them and eventually be more like them. I don't blame anyone for negative things that happen to me, it's all me. I control my destiny and no one else.