Is the Boss Making a Million?

By Dave Nichols

Running any kind of business costs big bucks. But it doesn't necessarily mean the boss makes big bucks.

Yet in the HVAC industry, the techs and sales staffers who help a dealer find success sometimes try to guess what's in the wallet of the man or woman in charge. The new truck in the boss' parking spot? The vacation? Guess that $150 per hour the customer pays pretty much goes in the boss' pocket, they surmise.

Envy, one of the most basic human emotions, creeps into the heart of even the most loyal employee. But envy is often born from a lack of understanding.

Staff can miscalculate the cash it takes to keep the business running year-round, even during workers' sick days and vacations. Owners have to maintain revenue to afford:

  • Not just staff salaries, but benefits such as health insurance and life insurance costs for every employee.
  • Operational costs like facilities fees, licensing, inventory, and expensive truck contracts and fuel.
  • Marketing and advertising bills.

Many business owners may draw enough out of the business to pay personal bills, but it's probably never as much as employees imagine.

To battle the misperception that they, as business owners, are rolling in dough, employers can introduce a little business 101 into team meetings, regular employee evaluations, and everyday interactions. A little education can dispel the myth that HVAC dealers are millionaires and need their staffers to create an integrated team. We suggest:

  • Be more open about the day-to-day business plans, freely sharing the ups and downs.
  • Post revenue goals - and whether the team makes them.
  • Discuss budget realities - including what costs have to be covered to break even, to maintain the status quo, or to grow the business.
  • Encourage employees to claim the business' goals as their own, giving them a stake in its future and motivating them to strengthen their own job security.
  • Create a development plan for each staffer that fosters pride, shows them a career path, and increases loyalty.

To learn more about these ideas and how to put them into practice, pick up a copy of The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack - I highly recommend it.

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