The Power of Influence in the Workplace: 4 Key Takeaways From the WHVACR Conference

by

Jessica Brant
October 10, 2019
/
2
minutes to read

Two hundred business owners and service professionals joined together to celebrate diversity at the 16th Annual Women in HVACR Conference in Boston last month. Through the swapping of inspirational stories, thought leadership and successes in personal development, barriers were broken between colleagues and strangers. As each woman took the podium to speak, several more were empowered to share their own relatable experiences working in the home service industry. 

The power of influence was at work, and the Pointman team learned that anyone can be an influencer for good in the workplace. It can be used to better inform our work, to improve systems and processes, and to redirect interactions with colleagues. 

Here are a few takeaways from the speakers and networking sessions at the event, with input from members of the Pointman team. 

Influencing Design 

In order to run a successful business, you need to know the dollars and cents behind every job function, a key point that Ruth King, Founder of HVACR Channel TV, made during her breakout session. The session inspired Pointman UX Engineer Denise Nadal to think more creatively about how to alert business owners of problem areas within their team sooner through software design: “I think the more we understand how to review accounting and business metrics for HVACR businesses, the better we are able to help our customers grow and profit.” 

Influencing Culture 

Reputation carries. How employees perceive the business they work for is how outsiders and customers will perceive the business, and that’s why it’s important to maintain a healthy company culture.  Rachel Lama, our Customer Success Manager, benefited most from attending the technician panel at the conference. She said it really opened her eyes to how much the tone of a company culture impacts employee retention rates, as one tech described leaving three companies within a short period of time. 

“Culture isn’t just important in the office; it impacts the workers out in the field as well,” she said. “When the tone of the company culture is off, your entire business is affected. Being aware of how you are communicating with employees, and what messages you are projecting, is important to building a strong work environment.” 

Influencing Bosses and Co-workers 

If you want your ideas to be heard by a boss or co-worker in a workplace setting, then you have to frame them correctly. Dr. Lois Frankel, keynote speaker and bestselling author of Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It, spoke about how to effectively communicate ideas so they are easily translated from one person to another. Doing so gives them a greater chance at life. 

During her talk, I learned a new technique for proposing how an idea can benefit an entire group or department. Turn questions into statements and use taglines as follow-ups at the end of those statements. For example, turning “Do you think our company would benefit from a weekly group lunch program?” into “I think implementing a weekly group lunch program would benefit the company. Do you agree?” is more likely to resonate with the receiver, shows you are making an effort to be proactive, and demonstrates initiative in leadership. 

Influencing Customer Interaction

Time isn’t always on the business owner’s side. This was reaffirmed for Lauren Ruppel, one of our Account Executives, who often encounters this while talking to customers during product demonstration calls. “Similar to our customers, all of the business owners I spoke to at the conference have no time. They’re either out in the field, or working in the office making phone calls and running reports,” she said. 

This time crunch leaves business owners having to scramble with last-minute choices with little time to spare in their days, and analyzing reports can fall low on the list of priorities. “By asking how often owners analyze their reporting to ensure that technicians are staying within the appropriate billable hours, we can explain specifically how our Customer Success coaches can stay on top of their reporting to make the process more seamless.” 

You can influence and empower the employees of your business by implementing new changes in the way you do things.

Look at Pricing

The start of the year is a great time to look at pricing. Usually, you have an idea of how your company fared the year prior, and you want to ensure you will continue to grow in the months to come. Many of us make New Year’s resolutions with respect to spending or saving in our personal lives, and it’s no different for business owners. Making sure your pricing is in line with where it should be is one of the strongest ways to start the year the right way.

Part of looking at your price book is finding where the issues are, and that can take time. An HVAC company in January is going to be very busy, so it’s a difficult time for a close look. However, a plumbing company might not be as busy. Whenever you tackle this job, your best bet is to look at what your labor rates are. Start there, and let it trickle down across the board. Ask yourself, “Are my labor rates helping my business stay profitable?”

Remember, there are many different services out there and many different groups or communities that you can engage. Never hesitate to say, “Hey, I’m a business owner in Florida. What should my labor rates be?” You can build your price from there. There are also some great billable hour calculators available.

Set Goals

There is no better time of year for looking inward than January. Set your personal goals and company goals for the following 12 months. If you can break those down into departmental goals, even better! Perhaps that means a CSR booking closing rates a little better, or a truck doing 250,000 a year rather than 200,000.

Many companies have found that using an Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) goal-setting system pays off. Looking for a guidebook when it comes to OKRs? Check out Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr. 

One key question is the best way to handle setting goals: Is it smarter for business owners to handle this solo, together with staff, or to delegate completely? 

The best approach is to set goals at the department level. As an owner, you need to take the time to understand what the goals are in each department, and make sure they are in line with your goals for the company. No one likes to set unattainable goals for themselves, so make sure you push your departments to set goals that are lofty, rather than simple ones to feel good about hitting. Entrust your staff to aim higher, and watch how they respond.

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