Monday, July 25, 2011

Gomo Part 1

With the extremes of weather over the last few months, many of you are excited about all the incoming calls and keeping your Techs so very busy that they received large checks with oodles of overtime. The money is rolling in and you are so excited. You can pay down those “nasty” creditors, your suppliers, your advertising bills, your telephone bill and maybe even yourself. Oh what a rush we get from the business of extreme weather. Why it’s almost as good as that rush you got last fall and early winter when the phones were ringing as your customers wanted that new system in before the end of the year to get that tax credit and utility rebates.

But let’s take another look at the nine months or so. You finished the year with great sales because of the federal tax credits and utility rebates. Then came January and February with huge invoices from suppliers and once again you are in the 60-90 day overdue to most of them. The calls are coming in from creditors and you are giving excuses. Certainly some may be legit, but you are just putting them off to get some breathing room. Then came the weather. Heavy rains, scorching temperatures, oh were they ever manna from heaven. Guess what, come August and September you will be right back into the 60-90 days behind on your bills, not paying yourself, and in the dumps again.

Do you remember one of the definitions of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over the same way and expecting different results. A while back, I had read an article which called this type of behavior, “Gomo”, or going thru the motions. Sorry I cannot recall the author. I should have saved the article along with the hundreds I already have. I thought I might find the article on the web but the search came up with 526,000 results. Too much information, although the first page of results came up with the Urban dictionary definition of GOMO as “A homosexual who is also geeky, or into geeky things.” This was not what I want to rant about today. Then there was the use of GOMO by Susan B. Wilson on of “Get Over it; Move On!” Once again not exactly what I was looking for as an accurate definition of the point I want to make.

The frustration I have with owners in our industries is the fact that many, many of them are just going through the motions of being a business owner. They are just doing the easy day to day stuff and not making the plans and decisions to change their businesses into the high income potential that most all of them have the capability of becoming. Quit the Gomo mentality and move your business forward. Learn how to be a true business owner and not just a supervisor of day to day activities.

The picture is William Hogarth's A Rake's Progress depicting Inmates at Bedlam Asylum

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Success comes in Cans

Does Success Comes in Cans?

I was at the local grocery store this week and low and behold what did I find, but Success in a Can. Well that’s not true. Actually I heard “Success comes in cans not cans” on “Dancing with the Stars” last night from Hines Ward, an NFL football great.

What Hines was saying is success comes from our attitude. He is not the first to say this nor is he the last. Many great motivational speakers have said it with different words and phrases but the point is the same. When we have a positive attitude, we are much more likely to be successful in our pursuits. What are some ways we can change our negative attitudes into positive ones that help us achieve our goals?

Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying, “We become what we think about all day long.” To me this means focusing on the goal I want to accomplish. I have done this by posting a picture of the goal or something that represents that goal in places I will see it throughout the day. It may be on my desk or on the mirror in the bathroom. I have written the goal down on a 3x5 card and keep it in a shirt pocket which required me to handle it several times a day. I have verbalized it to my wife and other key people in my life. I have tried to keep the goal front and center in my everyday life.

This is not a panacea for every goal or difficulty I have had in life but it has helped me complete many of my goals that I may have let slip by in life. Try it and see if it helps you. Let me know about your successes at

Monday, December 27, 2010

Are you ready to drop the ball for 2011?

It’s that time of year again with crowds in Times Square, Dick Clark (or his protégé) rocking New Year’s Eve, and the crystal ball dropping and ushering in the New Year. The dropping of the ball represents the move from the old into the new, the dying hopes to the new hopes, the aged thinking and ideas into the new and bright ideas. But wait a minute!

Haven’t we had 30, 40, 50, or more New Years to bring on the new, the bright, the exciting, and the change? I have had 63 of them. But I don’t remember all of them since I was a child for a number of those (my wife would say too many of them). I didn’t care when I was a teen or a young adult. I may have celebrated too much at a couple of them, but I have had 63 of them.

So many of us have had the real New Year’s Eve experience, we have dropped the ball. We have dropped the ball on making the changes that would make us better, healthier, nicer people. We didn’t quit smoking like we said we would, we didn’t lose weight like we said we would, we didn’t work hard to change ourselves into better people. We dropped the ball.

We dropped the ball when it came to our families. We were going to spend more time with the kids, we were going to have regular date nights with our wife, we were going to mend fences with our brother, and we were going to call Mom and Dad regularly. We dropped the ball here too.

The same goes in our businesses. We are going to follow a budget, we are going to work on our business not in our business, we were going to improve Customer Service, we were going to improve our website, we were going to pursue new business lines, we were going to clean-up the warehouse, we were going to make a budget and track our results. None of it got done. We dropped the ball again.

Well the Lord has blessed us with another New Year to celebrate and make changes that will affect us in such positive ways that we can’t even imagine. Try to think what it would be like if you were healthier, if you spent more special time with your wife and kids, or if your business became profitable (or more profitable). It’s really hard to do, but I assure you it can be done. A few dedicated people do it every year. The answer may be as simple as writing your goals down for 2011 and thinking about them constantly. Keep reminders everywhere, on the mirror in the bathroom, on the dashboard of the car, on a 3x5 card in your shirt pocket, on your IPhone or Blackberry in a spot you see often. Don’t ever give up! You can do what you pursue! Go get your new life in 2011!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Are You Too Blessed?

I recently talked with a friend who has started to help out at a church that assists homeless people. I asked her what she knew about the people that came seeking help. She told me about one gentleman that her husband had met and spent some time talking with. The gentleman had lost his high paying job about three years ago. He searched for a new job. He then lost his house, car, and most everything he owned. But that's not the worse part, his wife left him with their two children and disappeared from his life. He didn't have a minimum wage job but has a college degree and had a good paying job. He had a nice 4 bedroom home in the suburbs, he was living the American Dream as many of us are doing.
I then asked her what they do for these homeless people. She told me they give them the basics of food, clothing, wash their clothes for them, provide showers, provide things like toothpaste and other basic human needs. But the thing that seems to mean the most to these less fortunate individuals, is the time the volunteers give to talk with them, do basics for them like washing their clothes or providing a warm shower.
I expect you are saying, "Another sad story, oh well." Could you share some of the blessing the Lord has provided to you? "But Dan, the kids want, the kids want, the kids want!" Sure they want and you can provide them with at least some of their wishes this Christmas season, but you could also teach them the joy and satisfaction of helping people close to home in need.
Yesterday I heard on the radio that the Detroit Salvation Army was significantly behind on donations as many of the charity organizations are today. Could you cut back on the gifts a bit and donate to the Salvation Army, Gleaners Food Bank, your church's local outreach, or directly to a homeless shelter close to your home. You could also volunteer to work at one of these facilities. You could contact one of them and offer you plumbing, heating or electrical services to someone desperately in need. You may have other skills you could provide. You could adopt a family for the holidays. You could get your whole family involved.
If you were to do one or more of these, perhaps the I want, I want, I want would change to the I am truly blessed, I am truly blessed, I am truly blessed!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mystery of the Toilet

Our daughter, Melissa and Son-in-law, Kevin recently moved into their new home near Orlando. The house is about 3 years old and was a short sale. The previous owners moved out about a month before Melissa and Kevin closed and moved in. It is a larger home since they have 4 children and need some space of everyone.
Lynn and I are in Florida for the fall months. Since we could not move into the home we are staying in for several days, we bunked in with Melissa and Kevin and the 4 grandchildren. I noticed that the toilet in the main bath did not flush properly. Of course being a plumber that was not something that could go unfixed! And as a guy who likes tools and working with my hands, I brought my trusty tool bag properly outfitted with us to Florida. I was fairly certain that one of the grandkids or a child of the previous owner had dropped something into the toilet that should not have been deposited there.
It was Monday morning and the two grandsons left for school thus removing some of the chaos of four kids wanting to know what Grandpa is doing. The toilet was a builder’s model but the other similar toilets in the house flushed well so I was sure I would find a comb, a toy, a jar lid, or some other item in the trap-way of the toilet. I did not have a toilet auger with me (they don’t fit well in a tool bag), so I removed the tank from the toilet and pulled the bowl.
This is where it gets interesting and my point of the story. I gently place the bowl into the bathtub on a rubber mat so I can check the closet bend for the “object”. There is no “object” but there is standing water at the bottom of the closet bend. I immediately thought that the “object” has gotten lodged in the lateral piping from the closet bend to the stack. I stopped and unfroze my brain and evaluated the issue. The trap-way is the smallest diameter of the water and waste pathway so an “object” logically would not make it into the lateral without continuing on its path through the system. My next thought was some sort of construction debris, a rag, a chunk of a 2x4 or something similar was the culprit. But then my brain got into gear and said to me that it would not just be a slow partial flush as the toilet was operating, but a total blockage and a potential overflow of the toilet, which did not occur. Also the water remained in the lateral at the bottom of the closet bend even after several minutes. Being a well-trained Master Plumber for over 35 years, I remembered the basics of plumbing. Hot is on the left, “stuff” flows downhill and payday is Friday. The lateral must be going uphill!
I removed the screws holding the closet flange to the floor and tried to pry up the piping. If it didn’t work, I would need to open the living room ceiling to make a repair and that was not my first choice of solutions. Slowly the PVC closet riser came up but the water was not leaving. I decided that I would continue to pry it up since there was not much to lose. If the line broke or a joint broke that wouldn’t be an issue since I would need to open the ceiling for a repair anyway. The pipe kept coming up. The water began to drain. I continued to pry it up. At four and ½ inches, the water finally drained out completely. Having cleared hundreds of plugged or partially plugged toilets over the years, I had never seen this problem before.
What do I do now? Thinking about the alternatives of opening the ceiling to provide support for the lateral or just cut the riser down and glue a new flange on to the riser to support the lateral, I decided to just depend on the closet flange to hold up the piping. Not the way I would do it if I have access to the lateral piping, but with a substantial gluing surface on the flange I used, I was counting on the flange glue joint to support the piping. With everything put back together, the toilet now flushes perfectly for a builder’s model.
But how did this happen? The installing plumber didn’t support the lateral properly and the finish plumber didn’t test flush the toilet to assure that it was working properly. Perhaps a carpenter or the tile man pushed down the riser and broke the hangers. In any event, the details of a job are as important as the core task of the job. Be sure to remind your technicians of the importance of details especially testing of the finished job whether plumbing, HVAC, or electrical. They too may find a unique problem!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lazy Hazy Days of………

Perhaps you remember the song lyrics,
“Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer..” by Nat King Cole. I heard the song the other day and it brought some thoughts to mind.

Well, “the lazy hazy days of summer” are not what I was thinking about! I’m referring to the typical days of a contractor. Day in and day out they are too lazy to do what needs to be done to fix their business. Or it’s as if they have a haze around them and can’t see the issues that need addressing. In either case they let the days slip by without maximizing the income and profit they deserve for the efforts they put into their business. It becomes frustrating to a consultant when you pass along information that will make a substantial difference in the top line or the bottom line of a business and the owner or manager is too lazy or hazy to implement the change. I see it very often with contractors and as a very strong advocate for business owners and managers, it is so disappointing. The changes would make their life easier, or more fun, or more profitable, or protect their business, yet they remain in their lazy hazy mode. It appears to be an epidemic in the contracting business.

Recently, an old friend in the contracting business closed up shop. I had always admired him for the niche market he had carved out in the plumbing business. But he refused to move with the times, prospect for new customers, or add services to attract new customers and have additional sales to existing accounts. There was nothing to sell at the end except a small building and then bankrupt the business. There was nothing to pass to the next generations, nothing for retirement, and nothing to give to his favorite charity. He is not a pauper but his decisions left hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars lost. I have several other friends in the contracting business moving towards the same situation. What a shame after decades of struggling, sacrificing, and under-compensating themselves, they will not be able to enjoy a successful retirement in a few years.

I have been a member of associations, groups, been to hundreds of seminars and saw and still see the same thing happening to so many contractors. The epidemic has shown up everywhere.

Now some do have issues beyond their control that affect the profitability of their business. These can include health issues, accidents, unscrupulous owners or general contractors, theft, and family problems. Some of the results cannot be overcome but once again I have seen the lazy hazy contractor letting the situation control them.

Are you caught up in the lazy hazy days of business? You probably know exactly what you need to do to make your business a success. DO IT! If you don’t know what to do to make your business a success, then find a consultant to help you. Only do this if you truly are willing to change.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

No-See-Ums on your P&L?

No-see-ums are tiny insects that are a bother in the South including the Caribbean. They are so small that they can go right through screen. They bite like a mosquito with the bite welting up into an itchy red spot. You can get dozens of them without even knowing it until the itch comes hours later. Often their bite is more annoying that the mosquito’s bite.
The same thing is happening on many of my clients P&L statements. They were smart and developed a budget before the year began. They break it down into monthly budgets and even weekly budgets and monitor them against actual sales and expenses. They are getting bit by almost invisible expenses from a variety of sources thus reducing their profits. “What are you talking about Dan?” Let me explain.
Since all of my clients are on Menu Pricing, they quote a complete price to their customers. A water heater replacement is quoted including all expenses needed for a complete to code installation. This would include materials, labor, warranty, taxes, and permits. What they are finding is the fees for permits and licensing are increasing as a way for cities, counties, and states to increase income. The taxes for use and sales tax are increasing, and the suppliers are increasing fees for deliveries, returns, and warranty handling charges. Disposal fees of the trash from the job continue to increase. You have these tiny costs and cost increases biting into your profits. These costs were not planned on when they developed their budgets.
Additional “No-See-Ums” include federal, state and local business taxes, business annual inspections, increases in unemployment taxes, base rates add-ons to your utility bills, waste and water bills. Unfunded mandates from the federal government and state governments trickle down to the local level where you are taxes, assessed, fined or charged to cover the costs. Of course the banks continue to increased charges for credit card processing and other services.
Other “No-See-Ums” include additional fees for your vehicles including higher license plate costs, higher tire and oil disposal fees, higher tolls, stricter traffic enforcement (traffic tickets), and stricter D.O.T. enforcement (truck inspections).
I’m sure there are many others I have missed in putting this blog together. It is vitally important as a company to earn a profit to stay in business. Watching the little things on the P&L as well as the big things can help in achieving the profits you planned for when you developed your budget. Break down your expenses into reasonable categories so you can quickly monitor changes from the “No-See-Ums”.