How to Gain Total Control of Your Service Business

Written by | Voice of the Contractor

“If I had no systems for what we do, my life would be a nightmare.”

I talk to a lot of business owners on a regular basis, and I am constantly amazed at how many of them are constantly complaining about their businesses.  Whether it’s employees, customers, or their competitors, business owners always seem to feel out of control.  It’s been a while, but I can remember the days when I was constantly running from one emergency to the next.  Not that I don’t have the occasional fire to put out, but they are few and far between.  And when there is a problem to solve, I can usually track it back to what system failed, so I know who to talk to, and how to avoid it in the future.  I’m sharing the methods to help you gain total control of your service business.

As the business owner, you have to wear many hats: marketing, accounting, HR, sales, production, etc.  So many hats, and the one thing I have found is that the larger I grow my organization, the less hats I need to wear, and the easier things get.  However, this would not be the case if I did not have systems and processes in place to make sure things happen the way I want them to happen as well as making sure people get trained on the right way to do things.

“But it’s just me and one guy…,” you might be thinking to yourself.  But let me ask you, has that ONE guy been easy to train, or have you gotten frustrated that he or she did not do things the way you wanted them to be done?  The best time to build systems in your business is when it is just you and an employee or two.  Why?  Because then it’s more controllable, and as you add more people, you will have the systems already figured out.

My small painting business is on 10 different job sites at any given time.  We have 16 painters in the field, and about 21 total on the team.  If I had no systems for what we did, and hoped for the best, we would have all sorts of problems, complaints, and issues.  My life would be a nightmare.  BUT instead, we have extremely happy customers, a team that loves their jobs, and we doubled in size this year.  That would not be possible without having good systems.

How to start building systems

When I first started my business, I was introduced to a book called The E-Myth by Michael Gerber.  I highly recommend you pick up a copy.  I read it (or listened to it) about 12 times.  There is a lot in that book, but it is hands down, the best book out there on how and why to build systems in your business.  The answer however is not in reading the book, but rather taking action on putting in the systems into your business, so step ONE is to read the book, and step two is to start implementing.

Knowing that you are going to run over to Amazon and download a copy of the book, I still want to give you a few practical things to do to help you get started on the road to building your systems.

List what you HATE to do

What are the things you absolutely can’t stand doing in your business?  For me in the early days, that would include answering the phone, accounting, and calling customers back for appointments.

Write out how you would like these things to be done and how often.  These are the first tasks I suggest you to outsource (or in-source).  You most likely procrastinate these tasks, don’t do them on time or as often as you should, and don’t do them well.  This is also taking valuable time away from what you do best, whatever that may be.  You need to start here so that you can hire someone to take these tasks off your plate.  If you do this, you will be able to generate more money that the company needs to support these tasks, and you’ll have more time.

You might be thinking, “but I can’t afford to hire someone.”.  Trust me, you can. If you are spending (or should be spending) 15 hours a week on these tasks, and you bill out at, at least $50/hr, you can hire someone at $13/hr to help you, freeing you up to bill yourself out for at least 10 additional hours per week.  This will create $500 in additional revenue per week, or $2000 per month.  Your cost to hire this person would be $900 (with taxes), and give you an additional $1100 in gross profit for the month.  AND now you have less frustration.

Once you get this accomplished, you can start to breathe again, have a little bit more time in your schedule, and not have the weight of tasks you hate looming in the background.  Now you are on your way to gaining control of your service business.

Until next time… Keep dreaming big and building that beautiful business of yours.



Nick May owns Walls by Design, based out of Denver, CO. He started the business in 1999 with one employee, and grew it to be one of the largest residential interior painting businesses in Colorado. May believes in systems, team building, and marketing…not necessarily in that order. When he’s not working with his team, you can find him playing soccer or hosting his successful interior design podcast called The Chaise Lounge where he shares the stories of some of the most successful designers in the industry today.

Want to read Nick’s blog post on Owning Your Business? Click here!


Last modified: March 19, 2019

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