The three most important topics to address when designing an installed sales program are specialization, teamwork, and commitment. Like the volumes of a great trilogy, each is important independently but understood and adopted as an interrelated business philosophy; together they become exponentially more influential in the overall success of your efforts. If you've tuned in over the past two months, you already have a good understanding of how specialization and teamwork can impact your operations. This month we finish the topic by looking at commitment.
Commitment goes beyond just saying that you are dedicated to a particular program or operation; it must address the core of your business strategy. To what are you really committed? In my experience, both at United Building Centers and while working around the country as an association trainer, I have been exposed to operations that were absolutely committed to excellence in all aspects of the business and filled with empowered, knowledgeable employees. I also saw some that were staffed with people on autopilot, doing their jobs but not really concerned with whether or not the company was performing at an optimal level. It's like the old story of the chicken and the pig at a country breakfast with eggs and ham: The chicken was involved, the pig was committed.
Are you and your company committed to, or simply involved in, installed sales? That depends on why you started your operation to begin with. Some companies begin an installed sales program simply to sell more products and ensure that they can service their customers'needs and compete effectively with one-steppers. Others begin a program with a business plan in place that ensures a value-added product and service option for their builder-customers, or their homeowner-customers, depending on market conditions. In both cases, your company needs to be totally committed to the success of the business for it to grow and succeed. And when I speak to commitment I am addressing everyone in the organization, from executive management to the person in the yard bunking lumber and driving a truck. Every resource available must be directed toward excellent service, both for your internal customers—the installed sales program employees—and your external customers.
I've always felt that installed sales is a tremendous value-added offering for builders and a strong service for those involved in retail. In some cases, successful operations can serve both pros and consumers, but this is the exception rather than the rule. But regardless of your primary customer base, if you're offering installed services, every part of that business needs to be tracked to ensure profitability and maximum efficiency. What products are you installing? Who's doing it for you (employees or subcontractors)? Count it all, regardless of product category or the type of business enterprise it is.
Some in our industry think that installed sales is only insulation, gutters, and siding, but it's grown far beyond that. Installed sales now encompasses everything from closet shelving to building houses—full-blown construction. The rule of thumb is that if you are combining material and labor and providing that to a customer, it's installed sales—and that can add up to a lot of business and growth opportunities.
You owe it to yourself, your employees, and your customers to commit the resources necessary to execute each and every step of your installed sales program with excellence. Make the choice to go hog wild in the market rather than sit around pondering what will come first, business growth or more dedicated resources—in other words, the chicken or the egg.
Mike Butts is director of installation services for United Building Centers. 507.457.8453. E-mail: [email protected].