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Nothing But Net (Profit)

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Nothing But Net (Profit)

Surprising similarities between managing profitable home improvement businesses and successful youth basketball organizations

By Drew Barto November 7, 2023
Business leaders with basketball in office
Photo: LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS | stock.adobe.com

My 14-year-old son plays a lot of basketball. When he’s not playing for his school team, he plays for organizations on the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) circuit.

The AAU scene features some of the best youth basketball players in the country playing with and against each other. It gives kids even more opportunities to be discovered by college coaches.

Like in business, my son is beginning to realize that there is always a next level to basketball. Just when you think you’ve “made it”, you find out that there’s someone bigger and better than you.

Running a successful AAU basketball program is a lot like managing a profitable home improvement company. Here are a few of the similarities I’ve observed:

1. Always Be Recruiting

AAU team rosters are unique from season to season because every organization is constantly on the prowl for new and better talent. A player’s roster spot is never safe.

Home improvement companies must have the same mindset when it comes to recruiting and hiring new employees.

Even if you have a good team, there may be an all-star caliber candidate searching for a better opportunity. You can’t afford to miss out on hiring top talent, so you should be recruiting around the clock.

2. Cut Ties with Locker Room Cancers

Some kids are not mentally prepared to play for elite-level basketball teams. Many are selfish and immature.

If left unchecked, those traits are contagious and can spread to other players. Before you know it, you don’t have a team—you have a collection of individuals who can’t succeed together. This type of player will get cut and move on to infect several other organizations before they realize they are the problem. Most of those kids eventually get it together. Some don’t.

Contractors have similar problems with self-important employees. I’ve often joked that many home improvement sales consultants are the equivalent of wide receivers on a football team—they can be divas. Like wide receivers who always want the ball, they always want the best leads.

In a prior role, I distributed leads to a consultant like this. He was arrogant, whiny, and confrontational when he had to work hard to sell a job. His attitude brought everyone in the marketing and sales departments down, but the company was afraid to be short-staffed. It wasn’t until customers began complaining about him that the company fired him. He was hired by a competitor and I was relieved that he would no longer cost us money.

3. Superior Commitment to Processes

Leading up to my son’s last tournament this fall, his team had a record of 30 wins and five losses throughout the summer and fall seasons. The competition level increased dramatically for the final tournament and the team’s shortcomings were exposed by competing players who were committed to doing all of the small things right.

One example of this was rebounding. The opponents got bodies on bodies when shots went up to put themselves in position to get rebounds. My son and his teammates got caught standing around and watching a lot. That’s just one of the many reasons they lost all four games that weekend.

Home improvement companies are similar in that the most successful teams follow processes and do the small things better than competitors. Contractors whose teams stick to the scripts when setting appointments, don’t skip steps in the sales process, and don’t cut corners when installing products will be more profitable than those who lack discipline and consistency.

written by

Drew Barto

Drew Barto is director of home improvement for Pro Remodeler. He most recently served as the Director of Marketing at Energy Swing Windows in Pittsburgh. Contact him at dbarto@sgcmail.com or 412-607-7820.

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