4 Books That Will Help You Improve Your Field Service Business in 2014

By David Crary  

I've owned businesses since the 1980s. And I still learn something new just about every day. From managing people to finance, to sales and marketing, to supporting customers, owning a business is a lifelong journey and a daily education. 

booksOne way I supplement what I learn in my business is by reading books about running a business. And I've read a lot of those books. And sadly, many of them are pie-in-the-sky books that talk superficially about how to run a business, but don't actually teach you what you need to do on a day-to-day basis to run and grow a successful business.

With that in mind, I thought I'd share some of my favorite business books, why I like them, and what they will help you improve in your business.

Traction – Traction is my go-to business book for how to successfully run a business. The things I love about Traction are that 1) the author understands human nature and 2) it's the most practical book I've ever read about how to run a business.

We started using Traction to guide our business a little over a year ago. At the time, we were growing steadily, and that growth was starting to cause problems. And, admittedly, my personality lends itself to adding to those problems. I'm an optimist, and in the past, I chased every opportunity that came along, often to the detriment of my business.

What Traction has done is allowed me, my management team and my employees to focus on what matters. Now we're setting quarterly, annual, 3-year and 10-year goals that help us focus on the tasks that are going to help us achieve those goals. We have weekly departmental meetings. We have key metrics that we watch weekly to understand how our business is performing. All of these are things that Traction has introduced to our business.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – This isn't your traditional business book in that it's told in a story form. It walks through a fictional company and the struggles they had – despite having an immense amount of talent – reaching their goals. One of the core reasons they weren't successful was because they weren't the sum of their parts. Their individual team members weren't functioning well as a team, and it was hindering their performance. 

Like Traction, this is a simple book to understand, yet at the same time it addresses the core issues that haunt underperforming teams.Among those are:

  • A lack of trust

  • Feat of conflict

  • Lack of commitment

  • Avoidance of accountability

  • Inattention to results

If your team isn't getting results, it's worth reading this book and analyzing what the core issue or issues are and then work to correct them. 

Good to Great – Jim Collins' book has turned into a business classic that analyzes why great companies succeed. What I liked about Collins' book is that it draws from a wealth of data (Collins indicated his team of researchers studied more than 6000 articles and generated more than 2000 pages of interview transcripts) to find similarities among good companies that became great. 

In the end, Good to Great boils success down to 7 key attributes: 

  1. Level 5 Leaders – Humble leaders who are driven to do what's best for the company.

  2. First Who, Then What – Get the right people onboard, then figure out what you're going to have them do.

  3. Confront the Brutal Facts – Be honest, but hopeful.

  4. The Hedgehog Concept – What's your passion? What can you be best at? And what makes you money? Where those three overlap is what you should be doing as a business.

  5. Culture of Discipline – Focused businesses perform better.

  6. Technology Accelerators – Those that leverage technology to accelerate growth are typically more successfully

  7. The Flywheel – Many small initiatives can pay off in a big way.

Good to Great is an easy read, and uses numerous case studies to prove its central points.

Selling the Invisible – If you own a service business, this book is a must-read to improve your service business marketing. Unlike physical products, buying and selling a service is fundamentally different. And at its core, author Harry Beckwith argues that selling a service is about selling a relationship.

Beckwith also argues that passionate execution is the key to selling your service business. If that is not your forte, find someone who can be passionate with your customers and make that person the front for your business. It's also important that you have a promise and know what value you bring to a customer, and are able to articulate it clearly. 

A quick read and possibly a little dated (it was published before the age of social media), Selling the Invisible will help you better understand what motivates your buyers to buy, so you can create better messages and ultimately sell more services. 

Have a favorite business book not mentioned here? Drop it in the comments and tell us why it's your go-to business book!

And while you're at it, if you need some tips to help you improve your business this offseason, check out our latest eBook, 10 Ways to Improve Your Business in the Offseason.


10 Ways to Improve Your Business in the Offseason

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