So you have an awesome idea and a successful business model. You feel like you’re ready to expand, but where do you even start? There are so many wrong ways to do it, but Frank from Total Comfort Group is here to show us the right ways to grow our facility management company.
Total Comfort Group began in 2008 in New Jersey with a dream of owning a business and a borrowed van. Before they knew it, they were rapidly expanding into tri-state areas and beyond. Frank admits how incredibly hard it was, but now that they’re on the other side, he says “worth it.” How did they do this? Let’s break down Frank’s best tips and tricks.
We all know good customer service is key. Frank says that one of the cornerstones of their company is owning up to and fixing mistakes. He reminds us that mistakes are inevitable and that we need to expect them and be ok with them because “People realize that you’re going to come to the table and if you don’t do it right, you’re going to make it right….If you do the right thing and work hard, people are going to start to take notice, and you want them to take notice for all the right reasons and not the wrong reasons.” We also need to pick up the phone and respond to these issues personally, it will go such a long way to securing that client relationship.
He goes further to say that clients can sniff out manipulation in a heartbeat, so honesty and transparency is key. If we come to be known as a company that will shoot you straight and fix it when we mess up, we will succeed. Frank also impresses upon us that our clients are our partners, and that “as soon as it becomes transactional, it’s not a relationship.” Our clients can mess up too, and “it’s all about how we rebound and carry the relationship forward.”
Taking Caring of Your Employees
The first thing that Frank said about building a team wasn’t about how to train them or how to hire good help, it was the date that they were able to first hire someone with medical benefits. If that doesn’t speak to the integrity of a company, I don’t know what does. When we start a business based on a trade that we have learned through experience, it is so important to remember where we came from and how it felt to be in our employees’ shoes. How would we have liked to be treated? What were our goals and motivations?
Frank emphasizes that Total Comfort Group is not a profits-first company, but instead, they do the right things and treat their people well. He says that when you invest in your team, the profits will naturally follow, and that as business owners, we should create a culture where people know that to be true.
The old saying stating that it’s all about who you know still rings true for basically every business and probably always will, and it’s our job to make those connections and put our companies in front of the right people. We need to go to the events, make friends with others in the industry, and play nice with our peers so that we can form lasting business relationships and ultimately, increase our reach and profitability. When we create a good business model that others want to follow, they will naturally want to work with us.
Another great way to place ourselves in front of as many eyes as possible is to make contacts with the facilitators of conferences and other events in our industry and ask how we can help. When we sponsor events, companies, nonprofits, etc., we’re essentially pouring money back into our business with marketing strategies that are proven to work.
Growing with the Industry
In most lines of work, there is a constant race to stay front of mind and to be in the know about upgrades, advancements, and changes with which to adapt our business. This can feel daunting, but the companies that survive are the ones who make it a priority to keep ahead of the curve and keep their teams educated on industry standards.
Our guest this week gives us some specifics on how to do this specifically in the facilities management industry. Frank’s company makes this happen by:
Working with manufacturers on repair and service ends to coordinate efforts and make sure that equipment is up to date.
Keeping up with technological efforts to save energy and remain ethically above-board.
Making it a big part of the business model to see the changes in energy savings and environmental protection as the future, and making it a goal to get there.
Taking a nod from states like California who are placing it as a top priority to make our world a better place.
Frank says it best with “The equipment is only getting smarter; the needs are only getting more complex...It’s gotta be the path forward. The status quo just isn’t cutting it anymore, and by staying the status quo, you’re stifling innovation.”