The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Flooring Installers
By now, nearly everyone has heard about the "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." While the book centers on character and ethics, the most important element of the advice is tied to the word "habit." The author, Stephen Covey, tells us that the steps that lead to success must become an ingrained part of a person's psyche. You take these steps everyday out of sheer habit. To do otherwise, would seem unnatural.
I submit that the same can be said of installers in the flooring business. To consistently do the job well requires a delicate balance: You need both a sharp eye for detail and the ability to look at the big picture. For example: searching for new business and building relationships should come as naturally to you as any installation technique. Listening attentively to your customers and ensuring their satisfaction should be viewed as essential to your success as any tool in your truck.
What follows are the seven habits that should be the constant companion of any installer. My advice is to practice each one over and over until they become a habit. Remember: the successful person has the habit of doing things that failures don't like to do.
Habit 1: Be Proactive
This means more than just going out to seek work or projects. Actively seek and use your resources and initiatives. Avoid an irresponsible situation or expect others to make things happen or provide a solution. It means obtaining and exercising enough control to avoid being controlled.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
For every project it is important to understand your client's final expectations, and clearly define both within your firm and with your client.
This is not something that is done once or twice, but on a daily basis while working on the project. Plan out each day looking at how this day's productivity will tie in with prior day's efforts as well as with those of the upcoming days and contribute to the final end result.
It's important to understand that the end result is not merely finishing the project. The end result is your customers' perception of your professionalism and their satisfaction with the project at any point during its life expectancy.
Cutting corners may help your bottom line in the short term, but keep in mind there are many firms no longer in existence that had great initial returns only to fail as the result of litigation or lack of work due to poor ratings from customers.
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Use effective management and discipline to accomplish what is necessary to get your project to a successful completion. Keeping in mind your customers understanding of what constitutes success can come well after the check has cleared.
Make sure to do the necessary tests prior to a successful installation, including substrate moisture, pH, and bond tests. Successful installers recognize these tests are necessary. They will never compromise their business position or customers by overlooking them.
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
Relationships that are win/lose may help your bottom line in the short term, but they can quickly become lose/lose. This can ultimately evolve into a win/win for your competition. So isn't it best to create a win/win from the beginning?
When this is not achievable, no deal may be the best recourse. It is better to walk away from business than risk damage to your reputation and bottom line. All effective and long-term business relationships must employ this principle.
Habit 5: Understand
To interact effectively and positively influence your customers, you need to understand them. This takes a different form of listening. Listen with the intent to understand; avoid the trap of most who listen with the intent to reply.
The key to influencing is reaching the point of comfort with your customer where they freely offer you information on anything that matters to them. Remember that your private performance must match your public performance. You must talk the talk then walk the walk.
Habit 6: Synergize
All successful projects involve some type of synergy. What is good for your customer is good for you. Thinking and acting like this should be done on a daily basis. Developing your reputation based on integrity, principles and values will make it easier to establish synergies with your clients. Approaching others or jobs in a strongly protective or defensive manner effectively short-circuits any chance at a cooperative relationship.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
This means some form of renewal, through taking care of yourself and your employees. It can be advanced training or other forms of education, a system of rewards for jobs well done or any number of growth strategies. This should take in account all needs: Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual needs.
Remember, the key concept here is "habits." Incorporate these seven habits so they become an automatic part of your daily life and your business. Do that and you'll be ahead of the game-both in installation and in life.