If you’ve ever tried to make a business plan, you know how complicated it can be. It doesn’t have to be that way, and according to our special guest Ellen Rohr, it shouldn’t be! From being COO of ZOOM DRAIN to being featured on Huffington Post, HGTV and countless other publications and organizations, Ellen is well-known for helping businesses succeed.
Ellen’s start in the industry came when her husband “Hotrod”‘s long-time friend and plumbing business partner passed away at much too early of an age. She left her position running a restaurant to help her husband, thinking her experience and education had sufficiently prepared her. Unfortunately, Ellen found out the hard way that running a plumbing company (or any trades company for that matter) isn’t a walk in the park! After years of struggling and fighting, Ellen did what so many of our successful guests did and reached out for help, albeit in an unconventional way. She wrote a letter to Frank Blau in regards to an article he wrote to let him know why he was all wrong, and Frank took the opportunity to respond to her criticism (and cry for help) by publishing her letter in a book as an example of how not to approach business.
Frank taught Ellen some vital business skills like how to read a balance sheet, understanding profit/loss reports and profit margins, and carried her along until the light bulb went on. Ellen credits Frank with helping her understand a very simple concept that goes a long way in generating success for a business, and that’s to “charge more than it costs”. It sounds easy, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t know the true cost of their services and products, and that’s precisely why they aren’t making money! Ellen and Hot Rod took the advice to heart, raising their prices and getting out of debt which ultimately kickstarted Ellen’s incredible career as a well-respected business expert.
One of the many things that sets Ellen apart is her unique approach to business plans. Many business owners can relate the headache and hassle of creating a business plan. Aside from needing one for a business loan or to make a pitch, most people are creating business plans because it’s just a standard part of starting a company. You’ll find a million different ideas for what a business plan should look like, and most are complicated, cookie-cutter booklets with projections, plans, and detailed information.
If you ask Ellen, this is all unnecessary. Her definition is simple: A business plan is anything that helps you clarify your attention and line up some action that will move you in that general direction. A business plan could be a vision board, or a 3×5 card, or a notebook. It’s anything that helps you get clearer on what it is that you want, and line up some action to make it happen.
You don’t have to know every step, but figure out what you want and come up with two or three things that will get you a step further towards achieving your version of success. The plan can and should be simple! Lastly, it’s important to never let anyone tell you what you have to do when it comes to making a business plan. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it, so long as you’re getting closer to your goals.
Ellen is more than just an established columnist, consultant, and business expert. She’s also the COO of ZOOM DRAIN, a now 19-location drain service business. She’s always been a fan of franchising, and after working with Jim Abrams at Clockwork Home Services Inc. had the opportunity to take the original ZOOM DRAIN location and turn it into a model for what franchising should look like. Of course, this all started by making a clear, concise, and simple business plan. By putting together a list of goals and creating a mission statement to answer the question “why are we doing this”, and setting up goals to answer “what do we want”, Ellen was able to set ZOOM DRAIN up for the massive success it has become today.
As Jim Abrams says, “the simpler you make it, the further you can take it”. We appreciate having Ellen on To The Point, and hope you found some valuable takeaways to apply to your business right away. We encourage you to learn more about Ellen’s incredible approach to business by visiting her website, or requesting her free book, Where Did The Money Go to learn more about how to keep track and manage the money in your HVAC business.