By Bob Miodonski
of Contractor's staff
BUFFALO, N.Y. — One of the three keys to leadership is not motivating employees, contractor Kenny Chapman told prospective Nexstar members in June 24-25 at the group's Money Masters seminar here.
"You absolutely cannot motivate another person," said Chapman, a Nexstar member and senior trainer. "You can create an environment for people to motivate themselves. What motivates people is different."
The three keys to leadership are:
- Vision. "You must know where you're going and where you're taking the company," Chapman said. "How can you can make an educated decision you don't know where the company will be in 31/2 years?"
- Action. "You've got to take action," he said. "You'll make mistakes, we're all human, but go out and do something."
- Spirit. "Have passion for what you do," he said. "Have fun at what you do, or do something else."
Leadership is important in keeping good people involved in a company. Saying that he believes in people power, Chapman noted that other companies can copy a competitor's trucks, computer system and operations.
"The only thing they can't copy is your people," he said. "It's not just finding good people, but it's training, educating and retaining your people."
Chapman suggested that contractors "re-recruit" their best people. Employers usually spend 80% of their time with the 20% of their poorest employees.
"You don't pay attention to your best employees," he said. "Pay attention to your best employees or someone else will.
"I hire from the competition. It's business. Word on the street is that they'll make more money, have more free time and be better taken care with my company than working anywhere else."
Chapman's company, Peterson Plumbing & Heating in Grand Junction, Colo., runs a help-wanted ad in the newspaper every week, even when it's not hiring, he said. The company, which employs 21 people, is always looking for good talent.
Once a contractor hires good employees, the company must work hard to keep them, he said.
"We push people out the door in this industry more than they want to leave," Chapman said. "People don't quit companies. They quit people.
" Ask your employees what they want, what's important to them. It may not be only money. We've got to keep them happy."
People want to be involved in the company, he said. Contractors should share financial information with employees so that they know the company's profitability.
" They want to be part of the game," he said.
Nexstar's Money Masters combines a seminar on the fundamentals of running a successful plumbing, HVAC and electrical service business with a tour of a successful contractor's operations, in this case Roy's Plumbing. The two-day program presented the best practices group's methods for implementing profitability, fiscal management techniques and how to create effective changes in a company.
Other than the Nexstar members who were there, representatives of 18 service companies attended the Money Masters event. Of those, 10 have joined Nexstar and two more were expected to join in September.