From Surviving to Thriving Through Soft Skills

By Jon Isaacson

This article is a recap of principles we discussed on a recent episode of The DYOJO podcast, the benchmarking survey from Cleanfax played a key role in the discussion so I thought this would be a good fit for the publication.

Growing your business from surviving to thriving through soft skills training

When you first start a business, it’s survival mode. As an entrepreneur you do whatever you need to do to get the phone ringing, taking any project you can get, and generating revenue. Life is about opportunities not convenience, and you can quote me on that. Many of your opportunities will not arrive in majestic packages or sums that will make you rich quickly. In property restoration and other service-based industries, opportunities often come at all of the oddest hours of the day or night, testing your commitment to the cause. Identify the opportunities that are best for you and your team. Structure yourself and your team to see, understand and meet the needs, values and opportunities that the market presents.

Growing beyond survival through soft skills training

Larry Wilberton and Eric Sprague were able to build their property restoration business with a carpet cleaning truck that they didn’t even know how to start into an entity that they were able to sell at a profit. They shared portions of their story on The DYOJO Podcast Episode 50. As college friends, they had no idea that water damage restoration would be their life’s work, but they discovered ways to develop themselves and their team to thrive in the competitive world of the skilled trades. Core to their success was a daily investment in soft skills training for their technicians, many of whom had no prior work experience or examples to learn from. Initially they disagreed about how consistently they needed to make time for short interval training on items such as life skills development, customer service, and upselling without being a salesperson.

Cleanfax Magazine conducted a benchmarking survey in 2020 which accumulates input from restoration contractors throughout the United States and Canada. Owners in this service based industry have stated that recruiting and retaining quality staff has been their number one challenge, with over 80% consensus dating back to 2018 (see infographic on their website):

  1. Recruiting and retaining quality staff

  2. Maintaining margins and profitability

  3. Cash flow

  4. Differentiating your company

  5. Increasing cost of doing business

Thriving as a business from the ROI of soft skills training

Eric and Larry learned, at first by trial and error, that the return on investment (ROI) for soft skills training in particular was exponential. The team came to expect these educational sessions and there was a clear negative impact on their morale and production whenever the owners were tempted to scale back on their commitments. After they sold the business, they proved these principles were universal as they consulted with skilled trades businesses throughout the country. They continue to share these gems with entrepreneurs and growth minded managers through the Blue Collar Nation Podcast as well as their coaching business Morning Tech Meeting. Learning from the successes and failures of others is core to The DYOJO way of the intentional restorer; shorten your DANG learning curve.

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