The ONE WORD for Strategy

The ONE WORD for Strategy

As you do your annual planning efforts you may be asking yourself this question: How can we scale up with the staffing pressures that we feel?

Most businesses are experiencing some pressure from the great migration as many employees are choosing not to come back to work.

My recommendation is to ask a different question: How can we develop a talent attraction, hiring, and retention strategy that differentiates our company culture in the marketplace?

In the seminal Harvard Business Review article, What Is Strategy? Michael Porter defined strategy. Strategy is performing different activities from rivals’ or performing similar activities in different ways. Porter states that a company can outperform rivals only if it can establish a difference it can preserve.

Not only do you need to create differentiation with your external customers, but you must also differentiate yourself in the marketplace for your future internal customers.

Perhaps this case study will help you to understand what it will take to not only scale up, by differentiating yourself in the marketplace and increasing revenue and net profit, but also by being able to attract A-players, those high performers who live your core values and are capable to handle the increased capacity needed for rapid growth.

Jamie Carter, founder of Carter’s My Plumber in Greenwood, Indiana, has discovered the secret sauce to scale up his business by attracting and retaining A Players without losing one employee during the pandemic. What is even more startling, this industry is notorious for high turnover! Jamie shared his story about how he developed a strategy to differentiate his business in the marketplace, to attract, develop and retain great talent.

“Dr. Overmyer, you may remember that my wife and I sold a successful clean plumbing HVAC business in 2007 and retired. A couple of years later we started over with our son in hopes of teaching him the trade so he could become a journeyman plumber like his grandpa and myself. From 2011 to 2018 the company grew at 15% average per year increase with no real purpose or core values. In 2019 my son decided to take on more responsibility in a leadership position and I knew that we needed some guidance.

It was at that time I began searching for someone to counsel us in building a scalable business model. This led me to find the book Scaling Up by Verne Harnish. Then I found your contact information on the Internet. And what a great find it was!

Since the engagement of your services in January 2020, our business continues to thrive! Even during the pandemic, we scaled up dramatically. Keep in mind that Indianapolis is a very competitive plumbing – HVAC market. Our gross revenue has doubled in two years, and we have not lost one employee! In fact, we’ve hired some really good employees while many other companies are struggling to find employees while many other companies are struggling to find employees, we seem to be attracting really good points.

At our staffing meeting a few weeks ago, I asked what were some of the things about our company that were attractive for the newly hired employees. This is no surprise to you, but the overwhelming answer was a higher purpose, the Carter way, and our vision for the Big Hairy Audacious Goal, BHAG. What’s most astonishing to me is that this growth over the past two years has happened with me being present only about 30% of the time!

In the plumbing world, we do many different types of tasks—drain cleaning, excavation, repairs, remodeling, water heaters, water softeners, well pumps, sump pumps, etc.  We saw a problem with training the younger technicians to be good at all these tasks. It also made being “on call” for nights and weekends a problem.

What I did was to narrow our focus. This idea came from the Scaling Up book and your coaching. I asked our plumbers what all they did daily to get the ball rolling. I wrote it all down on a dry erase board. All the tasks in the paragraph above were mentioned along with many more.

I then asked them what task was most important to the customer. They said, “Hot water.” I asked them what task they would prefer to do the most. They said, “Hot water heaters.” I then said what task would they get out of bed to do any time of the day or weekend. They said, “Hot water heaters.” So, this became our focus! We began to lay out the groundwork to be number 1 in our market for hot water heaters.

From that point on, day in and day out, we placed our highest emphasis on providing hot water to our customers. Everyone knows and is excited about that. Having focus has allowed us to find and keep employees because our focus is what they want and most of the larger companies are HVAC focused, which makes it easier for us to attract the right customers. The value they get is happiness. We know that when you love what you are doing, on a day in and day out basis, work becomes fun!”

Jamie learned how to engage his plumbers with a strategy that differentiated his company in the marketplace and attracts and retains the talent he needed to scale up. If you need guidance to develop a differentiating strategy, please participate in one of our virtual scaling up business growth workshops.