Ask a Pro November/December 2022

November 9th, 2022 by Nathan Hobbs

How to Become a Business Super Power

By Mike Burke

Not everyone wants to be a business super power. Some people are happier finding their low key niche and doing a great job by themselves or with a few employees— and that’s perfectly okay! But if you do want to supercharge your business, there are a few key things on which to focus:

Have a Concrete Vision

No matter what you want to achieve in life, you will have a much easier time getting there if you know where you want to go. So think about it—what are your business goals? Do you want to be the best installer in the world? Do you want the most likes on social media? Do you just want to get rich … and what does that mean to you? Is it making enough money to go on vacation every year and retire at 62? To buy a million-dollar house? A jet? Do you want to build a national or global brand? Do you want to help other business owners achieve success?

Different visions require different strategies. If you want to be the best installer in the world, you’re probably going to focus more on honing your own skills and less on growing your business. But if you envision yourself spending a lot of time lounging on your luxury yacht in the Mediterranean, you need a laser focus on the things that will enable you to maximize your profit while also stepping back from being responsible for day-to-day operations.

Delegate Tasks

When I was just a few years into running my first brick-and-mortar business, I was doing everything—not just tinting every car, but placing ads, answering the phone, following up on leads and cleaning the bathroom. I literally worked from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. six or seven days a week.

And one day I realized that I was completely maxed out. It would be impossible for me to make any more money or grow my business to new heights because I had reached my phsical limit. I had to hire people to help me. Since then I have had hundreds of employees, and I’ve learned that just hiring employees isn’t enough. You need to hire the right people, and then you need to coach them into taking on the responsibilities that will contribute to your business’s growth.

There are two kinds of employees you need if you’re going to scale your business beyond your personal capacity: people who can do what you do and people who can do what you can’t. If you’ve ever listened to me talk or read my articles, you know I’ve said over and over that the key to growth is to find your replacement. You’re spending half your time answering the phones and the other half tinting cars? Hire someone else to answer the phone. When that person is keeping you busy tinting full time, hire someone else to tint. Coach that person to take all the responsibility so that you can go out and do it again.

It seems simple, but the biggest road block a lot of guys run into is that they aren’t willing to give up control. They’ll let someone else tint, but they won’t let them spend money or make decisions. If you want to grow, you need to empower your staff to operate independently.

How many of you leave the shop and get a call within an hour from your manager, tinter or other employee asking you how they should handle some situation? If this is happening, your staff are operating as an extension of you and still costing you time and energy.

Not only that, but any employees who are truly motivated and aligned with your vision are going to chafe under that control and end up leaving you to do their own thing. Give your employees the authority to make decisions, and then let them fly. They’ll make mistakes, but they’ll learn from them.

The other kind of employee you need is the one who is good at all the things you can’t do. Some of these jobs are obvious, and you don’t even need actual employees—you can hire an accounting company to do your books, file your taxes and help with payroll. But as you grow, you’ll realize that a bigger business comes with more moving parts, and it can get overwhelming very quickly.

Hiring people to take care of things that aren’t directly related to the products and services you sell can be a tough step to take because it feels like the cost is not directly contributing to your bottom line. This is the furthest thing from the truth. Just like my personal capacity limited my production as a sole proprietor, once I started to really scale my business, I discovered that I had hit a similar wall in my ability to manage the machine I’d created.

Passing the Baton

A few years ago I decided that I would focus on the things that only I could do. If a task could be completed by someone else, it didn’t need to be on my plate. I hired what I affectionately refer to as a “super nerd” to keep track of billing and marketing and eventually partnered with him to create a separate marketing company.

I had been personally managing Facebook ads, but I hired a company to manage all my online advertising from Facebook and Instagram to Google and emerging platforms like TikTok. Yes, at first glance it seems cheaper to post ads yourself than to pay someone to do it, but search engines and social media platforms constantly change their requirements and algorithms. It’s a full-time job to monitor that evolving environment, understand what types of ads are most effective, calculate my cost per lead and adjust strategies as needed. I pay for the service, but in return my advertising dollars go much further, and I have a better understanding of how much bang I’m getting for my buck.

Related to this, as your company grows, it’s essential to implement processes and embrace technology. When I only had a few employees and one flat glass van, I could fly by the seat of my pants. I answered the phone and personally forwarded every online lead to the appropriate shop. All of our records were paper. Today, we use software to manage calls, online leads, appointments, scheduling, estimates and dispatch for flat glass. Customers get automatic responses, follow-ups and prompts to tip and leave reviews. This technology is what allows us to separate tasks and allow each employee to focus on their niche.

If this sounds overwhelming—it can be. But part of trusting processes is to learn from people who have had success doing the same thing. It’s inefficient to re-invent the wheel every time. No matter what you’re doing in business, someone else has already done it before you. Find that person and pay them to teach you how to do it.

Focus on Marketing and Networking

I’ve talked a lot about marketing because I truly believe it is the key to success. You can be the best business in the world, providing the best service, but if nobody knows you exist, they can’t hire you. Effective marketing lets people know three things: who you are, what you do and how to get ahold of you.

I already talked about why high-tech marketing requires an expert to get the most out of it, but another important aspect of online ad campaigns that many people don’t realize is that they take time to gain traction. If you turn it off when you’re busy and on when you slow down, you may as well just save your money. Instead, set an affordable budget and look at it like a car
payment or a utility bill. Consistency pays off.

Finally, to become a powerhouse in any industry requires networking. I always say, “If you want to do more business, make more friends.” Every person you meet is an opportunity. Every time you meet someone, find out what they do. Chances are you know someone who needs their services. Connect people—they will remember and return the favor.

Mike Burke has worked in the window film industry for 33 years. His company, Sun Stoppers, has more than 68 locations in 19 states and offers residential and commercial tint and decorative film services as well as automotive tint, paint protection, and ceramic coatings. If you have a question for Burke to tackle in a future column, email him at
mike@sunstoppers.com.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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