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The subtitle to Michael Gerber’s 2003 book The E-Myth Contractor is “Why Most Contractors’ Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It.” That’s a pretty strong statement, but sometimes the medicine that heals us takes a bit of getting used to.
One of Gerber’s best ideas involves systems, and I’d like to expand on it here. Virtually every contracting business I know started with a single employee – usually a skilled, respected electrician. And being skilled, respected electricians, they initially did most of the work themselves. In fact, it’s safe to say that self-reliance is one of the personality traits that inspired them to start their own company. It’s also a trait that helps them to succeed. Unfortunately, this same trait can easily become a roadblock that stands in the way of growth. How? When the owner is the only one who knows how to do something, the business often finds itself waiting on the owner.
There’s an old saying that asks “do you ever have time to work ON your business or do you only work IN your business?” Another way of asking the same question would be “have you created a BUSINESS or simply a JOB?” In other words, if you’re the owner and you do everything yourself, your company can never get past your own human limitations, the biggest of which is time. The key is to use your knowledge to develop well-defined systems that others can follow.
I know, I know. Who has the time to write everything down and plan out a system? “By the time it’s finished I could have just done it myself!” you say. While it’s true that creating systems can be a good bit of work, the long-term payoffs are invaluable. Just make sure you do it right: show someone how to do the books, and you’ll always be scared of them leaving. Create a system for doing the books, and when your bookkeeper leaves, you can simply hire another one. Everything gets done the same way because it’s not done according to the person, it’s done according to the system. Developing written policies for things like employee management, customer interaction and human resources allows you to delegate work without missing a beat. Work gets done exactly how you want it.
Best of all, once your systems are in place, you’ll have much more time to think of ways to improve your business. It is much easier to see the big picture when you’re not focused on every day-to-day detail. That’s the big advantage that systems provide – that and the ability to take a vacation once in a while without having to close up shop.
Need help getting started? Make plans to attend one of Womack University’s Certified Business Pros events in late October or early November. There will be plenty of good information on systems for employee manuals, credit and more. Plus, you’ll get a chance to meet some of our experts in person. See the feature story in this issue to learn more, or speak to your Womack Electric Supply representative.
Businesses that succeed are filled with people who still have a lot to learn. While that may sound like a paradox, it really isn’t. Instead, think of it as cause and effect: when a team embraces learning as a lifelong process of improvement, that team inevitably gets better at what it does. This results in more satisfied customers, bigger and better projects, and increased overall company success.
Womack University was created to give each and every one of Womack Electric Supply’s customers the opportunity to learn, grow and succeed. Womack University is an overarching concept that combines product education, business training and sales motivation into a set of tools and resources that are easy enough for anyone to understand and powerful enough to make a noticeable impact on your bottom line.
Resources available under the Womack University umbrella include the very latest in manufacturer installation / training information and videos on www.womackelectric.com; access to the incredible ElectricSmarts network, recognized as the nation’s best e-learning environment for electrical contractors; plus easy- to-use online electrical references, specialized calculators and much more.
Events associated with Womack University include everything from hands-on training opportunities to informative Lunch & Learn functions to exceptional full-day training events such as Certified Business Pros, coming in late October and early November to four separate Womack Electric Supply locations. Womack University’s Certified Business Pros 2014 events will include expert advice on creating and maintaining an employee handbook, how-tos for developing a profitable hourly rate, advice on making the most of company credit, recommendations for more effective marketing and even ideas for getting the most out of young employees.
In addition, the event’s sponsors, Eaton and Cooper Lighting, will show off their latest products during the lunch break. Best of all, everything is free, and participants can earn continuing education hours for attending!
For those who love competition, this year’s event in Greensboro, North Carolina, will also feature the Broan-NuTone ULTRA Pro™ Challenge. This nationwide contest allows electricians to show off their skills to determine who can install Broan-NuTone ULTRA Pro universal fans the fastest. Those who compete at the Greensboro event get a chance to win a $500 Cabela’s gift card, along with the chance for a trip to Las Vegas to compete for a Ford F-150 truck at the International Builders’ Show! For dates, locations and a complete list of the day’s events, click here.
Space is limited, so contact your Womack Electric Supply representative today to sign up for Womack University’s Certified Business Pros 2014 or register online at www.womackelectric.com/cbp. Become a lifelong learner and encourage your team to do the same. Together we’ll grow, improve and build your business from the bottom line up.
Not all suppliers are the same. For contractors, Womack Electric Supply’s innovative Central Distribution Center provides tangible benefits, including improved flexibility, increased accuracy and the overall cost savings associated with a system that works more efficiently.
Located in Youngsville, North Carolina, the Central Distribution Center is Womack Electric Supply’s warehouse and delivery hub. While orders are delivered or picked up from local branches, the Central Distribution Center provides some behind-the-scenes advantages that help out customers in a big way.
For instance, by maintaining the Central Distribution Center, Womack Electric Supply is able to keep big ticket items in stock that other suppliers are not. As a result, orders are filled faster and customers can get back to work sooner. Furthermore, this distribution infrastructure allows for many items that would usually be considered a special order to be included in normal shipments. Without extra charges for these parts, contractors are ultimately able to sell more products and obtain better margins, even on special projects.
According to Womack Electric Supply’s Central Distribution Center Operations Manager Terry Burton, the whole idea behind the Central Distribution Center is to improve on the basics. “By consolidating something as essential as wire cutting, we’ve markedly improved the process,” Burton says. “Not only do our customers get wire when they need it, but they see additional benefits like cost savings and flexible delivery, thanks to the efficiency of the process.”
Organization is critical when it comes to the Central Distribution Center. Every part that leaves the building is barcoded and tracked to ensure that the orders arrive on time and that they are correctly packed. “We understand that order accuracy is key to keeping our customers’ projects on time and on budget,” says Burton. “Plain and simple, fewer returns means that everyone can spend their time on more important things.”
Whether an order is fulfilled from the Central Distribution Center or a local branch, Womack Electric Supply’s infrastructure is designed to get its customers the supplies they need faster, while at the same time ensuring the health of those same customers’ bottom lines.
Something special is happening during the holiday season at Womack Electric Supply. We’re collecting bikes and donating them to The Salvation Army to give to children in need during our Give A Kid A Bike campaign.
Give A Kid A Bike was started in Greensboro by outside sales associate Rodney Clinard. “I’ve always wanted to provide an opportunity for the electrical industry to play a more active role in giving back to our community,” Clinard says. “Working with Womack enabled me to do that, and so far we’ve donated more than 1,000 bikes.”
Give A Kid A Bike is co-sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Electric Contractors (NCAEC), which helps to collect and manage any monetary donations (in addition to donating themselves). The tax-deductible donations (made payable to the NCAEC) are then pooled to purchase as many additional bikes as possible. Finally, Womack Electric Supply purchases helmets for all the bikes contributed. We will be accepting bikes and monetary donations until December 10, 2014.
Once all bikes and donations are collected, we will host a free event for participants and volunteers at our Greensboro branch on December 12, 2014. The festivities include a police escort, and Clinard even dresses up like Santa Clause. To make your own donation, contact your local Womack Electric Supply for details.
Womack Electric Supply customers can compete for a chance to win a $500 Cabela’s gift card, a trip to Las Vegas and even a 2015 Ford F-150 truck.
Broan-NuTone is once again putting out a nationwide challenge to electrical contractors to see who can install an ULTRA Pro bath fan the fastest in its ULTRA Pro Challenge. Womack Electric Supply is giving its customers a chance to get in on the action and put their skills to the test by hosting a qualifying southeast regional event at the intermission of Womack University’s Certified Business Pros training event on Friday, October 24, 2014, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
The ULTRA Pro Challenge is being conducted at 120 distributor events throughout eight regions in the United States. At each distributor event, challenges will be held every 15 to 20 minutes in which four contractors at a time will compete to see who can complete the installation the fastest. At the end of all of the challenges that day, the contractor with the fastest time will be awarded a $500 Cabela’s gift card. At the conclusion of all of the distributor events (November 21, 2014), the fastest installation time from each of the eight regions will be awarded trips to the National ULTRA Pro Challenge at the 2015 NAHB International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas. These trips include airfare and hotel accommodations for two as well as a $1,000 VISA gift card. The eight remaining contractors will go head-to-head, and the fastest installation from the NAHB International Builders’ Show will take home the grand prize of a 2015 Ford F-150 truck.
To compete in the regional ULTRA Pro Challenge at Womack University’s Certified Business Pros event, visit www.womackelectric.com/cbp. To check out the fastest installation times so far (along with more details), visit www.broan.com/ultra-challenge.
The ULTRA Pro universal ventilation fans feature ULTRAQuick™ installation technology so it can be secured, wired and activated in just minutes:
When it comes to lighting, if you’re not thinking ahead, you’re falling behind – at least in the eyes of your customers. Business owners continue to demand efficiency and longevity in regards to their lighting, and GE’s BR30 is the answer.
Introduced in 2011, the BR30 has quickly become one of GE’s most popular LED products, second only to its A-shaped LED bulb used in traditional lighting applications. Ideal for canned, recessed lighting, the dimmable BR30 produces a warm, amiable color typically seen with halogen lighting, but with less wattage and a much longer life.
“It only uses 10 watts and has a lifespan of 25,000 hours,” says Daraius Patell, GE product manager. “Plus, LEDs operate much cooler than other types of lighting, so central air systems don’t have to work as hard. When people see the difference that makes on their electricity bill, that reflects positively back on the contractor.”
While LEDs have been noted as being cost prohibitive, pricing trends show that the opposite is true. In fact, by January of 2015, the cost of the BR30 is expected to drop by more than 50% as compared to January of 2014. To learn more, speak to your Womack Electric Supply representative.
When it comes to billing questions at Womack Electric Supply, Nancy Pierce is the go-to person. She’s a credit associate and works out of the Greenville, North Carolina, branch. Since 1994, she has been helping customers to minimize billing issues and improve cash flow in a positive and upbeat manner.
In the last year, Pierce has played a significant role in the implementation of Billtrust®, Womack Electric Supply’s third-party billing service that handles the delivery of company invoices electronically. “Billtrust has allowed us to get invoices to our customers much faster,” says Pierce. “That, in turn, enables them to bill their own customers sooner, which can give their cash flow a boost. So far, it’s been a winning situation for everyone.” Billtrust is just one way that Pierce and the Womack Electric Supply credit department are making money easier to manage for contractors. Whether it’s improving efficiency, being flexible or getting creative, Pierce’s number one priority is trying to make positive cash flow a reality for customers. “Our customers’ success is what we care about most,” says Pierce. “We want to do everything we can to make sure that they have the answers they need and everything is running as smoothly as possible when it comes to billing. If there is something wrong, we fix it. If there is an area where we can improve, we do it. That’s how we do things here.”
FUN FACT: Nancy is a grandmother of four.
Womack Electric Supply’s Tools Specialist Eric Payne will be on hand at this year’s Womack University Certified Business Pros training events to answer questions and showcase the latest in tools and safety solutions for contractors. Don’t miss out on your chance to get some one-on-one time with Womack Electric Supply’s tool expert! Find out more about Womack University’s Certified Business Pros here.
Take a close look. It’s a photo of a 1930s wire cutting machine. If you have an old tool or even just a photo of an old tool, send a picture to us, and it could be featured in a future issue of The Womack Way newsletter!
Email your photos to email@example.com or to your Womack Electric Supply representative.