Despite the 2008 recession and downsizing operations to survive, All Purpose Windows and Doors has successfully developed its operations to become more efficient in cutting out waste and delivering customer value. As the economy slowly revamped, All Purpose has maintained its low overhead structure and pricing model.
Founded in 1998, All Purpose was acquired by USI Inc. in 2006. Nick King joined the All Purpose team in 2002 as Sales Manager for the company’s Salt Lake City region, and was subsequently promoted to Branch Manager. During the 2008 recession, King was challenged with the task for determining what positions the company would temporarily go without, and how to run more efficient operations. Joining All Purpose, King strove toward continuing growth within All Purpose and developing personally. The results were phenomenal. King not only played a major role in transitioning All Purpose’s operations to run more efficiently but also in developing an exceptional team of employees. Today, King manages the sales and production side of All Purpose in Salt Lake City.
As seen with numerous service providers for windows and doors, during the 2008 recession it wasn’t easy to survive., but as for King, he was able to pull it off. So when I had a chance to talk with him. Here’s what he had to say:
What are the top lessons you’ve learned in business?
First, it’s building a good team. As Branch Manger you cannot complete all the responsibilities without the right team in place. Don’t be afraid to teach your team and hold them accountable. Second, take care of that team, once you have that right team in place, then make them better, challenge them, help them develop, and make sure they are happy with what they are doing.
What are you most satisfied within All Purpose?
I’m most satisfied with our sales team; they make miracles happen. We take junk and make it look great, it’s all about the team. We have an excellent team with expertise in all areas of construction and maintenance. We have the right amount of employees for what we need. Our employees are loyal and held accountable. Our team members are committed and own the responsibility for providing customer service.
How do you deal with making mistakes?
My primary focus with All Purpose is making our customers happy. At the end of the day, even though a customer may not have had the greatest experience, I want them to know and feel they were treated fairly in the process. My goal is to learn from our mistakes such that we will never have a dissatisfied customer.
What do you love about your job?
I love having a good, nice, finished product. Windows are a visual project. I love seeing projects run smoothly, but also when things don’t run smoothly I love making that project turn out even better in the end. When things start turning out sour, I love working with our sales team to turn that project around and ultimately satisfy our customers.
What are your worries about business moving forward?
First, I am trying to figure out how we can ensure our customers are taken care of, in tough situations. Second, how I can ensure I’m doing what’s right for my team. It is balancing my employee’s personal needs with the business needs. I try not to make rational decisions on tough issues. I will sleep on the decisions and really focus on finding ways where both the employee and business can win.
Lastly, we are often challenged with finding good, helpful labor that wants to work. We have structured our compensation program with an effort toward retaining good talent. In the long term I would love to see All Purpose expand across the nation, but my focus right now is on making sure the business is solid and performing at the highest level it can perform at. We are our own entrepreneurs in the construction industry.
What skills sets do you focus on within All Purpose?
Success comes down to getting the most out of each employee. Anyone can try to become a professional basketball player, but it is about targeting your employees toward their specific capabilities. Goal setting is huge and is a must have within our sales team. Goals are focused on team building. As goals are accomplished, awards are given to the team as a whole rather than a specific individual. We strive to find the right dynamic in our sales team. We need a balance of hunters (finding new business), farmers (providing customer value), and harvesters (retaining customer service). Our farmers are primarily focused on delivering customer value to our mature clients.
Marketing is done at the branch level, with the business analysts. Most marketing is toward replacement windows for existing structures. Advertising budget is correlated with company goals and all around the budgeting process. A percent of revenue does not drive the advertising budget, it is all about the company’s strategic goals moving forward.
What Legacy would you hope to leave?
20 years from know I would want any customer that has interacted with me to know they were treated fairly and received an exceptional level of service. I would want anyone that has worked for me to know they were treated fairly and was the best boss they had ever worked for. That I sincerely cared for their personal needs. That the people I worked with on a daily basis enjoyed the relationships they had established with me and again treated fairly.
At the end of the day it’s all about the people who work for my company. Looking back, I would hold people accountable sooner and stronger rather than later. I would say the hard things first. I would talk to people that I was unhappy with. I would have those difficult and crucial conversations sooner. I would provide honest feedback rather than no feedback at all. I would focus on building a team. The people under me are the most important part of our business. I want my team to know they were taken care of.