I had heard that Traction: Get a Grip On Your Business, written by Gino Wickman, was a great book and that I HAD to read it. But people say that about a lot of books, TV shows, movies, songs, etc. Usually, though, even if they are as good as everyone says, you move on and forget about it.
But that wasn’t the case with Traction. I devoured every word, reading the whole thing within 36 hours. I became the living embodiment of that cliché, where a book I read really did change my life, and my company. Then, once I started talking to other business leaders, I started to realize that it wasn’t just me who had benefited. Wickman has other groupies as well. A lot of entrepreneurs are gaining traction with Traction.
I’ve never met Wickman. And sadly, I won’t be getting any of his royalties if this article helps him sell a few more books. But it’s too important not to share. Reading and implementing Traction has been a SERIOUS gamechanger for us at SpeedPro Imaging. I’m writing this article because, well, the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) is a heck of a system, and I’m happy to spread the word.
There isn’t just one specific drop of wisdom in his book I can point to; it’s more like an endless waterfall. What Wickman calls the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) makes a lot of sense. Its goal is to help business leaders run better businesses, get more control, have less stress and a smarter work-life balance, and, yes, get more traction.
We’ve been implementing Traction at the SpeedPro Imaging home office since I read the book a couple of years ago. It’s been THE gamechanger for us and it’s helped us establish ourselves as the nation’s leading large-format printing and graphics franchise.
If you do read Traction, and you end up employing EOS, you’ll see a lot of interesting changes through your business. Some of them might include…
Personnel. It isn’t fun to consider, but you may end up having to replace a few people if you adopt the EOS system. Maybe not. It depends on whether the employee is truly committed to the company’s success or just kind of going through the motions. I think you’ll find that most of your employees do care (or want to), but there are usually one or two people at every company that are there without really being there.
We ultimately ended up losing four or five employees, but one of those really stands out. This individual had been at SpeedPro forever, and using the principles in Traction, we were able to “off-board” him in a respectful and effective manner. You don’t like letting anyone go, but running a successful business is all about putting the right people in the right seats. If you have someone in the wrong seat, it hurts the business, which hurts everyone.
Our replacement grabbed the bull by the horns. He has a technical role, and we’ve never had to manage him. He knows what he’s doing, takes ownership of his projects and knocks the proverbial ball out of the park. It’s amazing what happens when you do, indeed, find that right person for the right seat.
I’m not alone. Justin Bredeman is the president of Soccer Shots, a national company headquartered in Middletown, Pennsylvania that offers after-school soccer programs to kids.
He told me about an employee he had in 2016. “She was a very good person. Kind. Showed up to work. Didn’t cause waves,” Bredeman says.
They had kept her with the company because she was nice, not because she had any special skills, or even enthusiasm, for her work.
After employing Traction and EOS in his business, Bredeman realized that she was something of a cultural misfit with the company.
“I need people who aren’t clocking in or out. Based on our core values, we need people to own it and take pride in it. She wanted a paycheck,” he says.
But the replacement fit into the new culture perfectly. One of the key jobs was managing expenses and arranging travel. Bredeman told me how the new employee once gave his business partner coupons to save on lunch and a car rental. Talk about owning the role and focusing on key details.
“The previous manager would have never done that,” he says, adding that it was only $50 that the company saved, but the gesture was appreciated. “That’s the mentality we need,” he says.
Culture. As the EOS systems help change the employees’ mindset, you’ll also see a positive difference in your culture. I know at my company, everyone feels more united than ever. People own their roles, and we’re all part of the same team. Giving people a say and an opportunity to speak their mind means a lot to everyone. It’s not just for show. We have a very collaborative environment.
Allan Young, Jr., CEO and co-founder of ShelfGenie, a customized cabinet shelving solutions franchise, mentioned the same thing to me after reading Traction.
“As the CEO and leader, culture should be easy,” he says.
But after Young went through the book with his team and asked for feedback about the company’s culture, he received a lot of blowback. He started realizing the culture wasn’t as strong as he thought.
“When culture isn’t clearly defined, groupthink happens,” Young says.
Bredeman has seen his company’s culture transformed as well.
“Culture trumps strategy,” Bredeman says. “If we get people who fit our culture and behave that way, we are in great shape. It’s especially important within a franchise system. We are trying to create a culture internally. It’s easier under one roof as opposed to working with owners around the country. But you couple that culture with an operating system, and you have something powerful that any person who fits the culture can implement.”
And when you have the right people and the right culture, that leads to…
Growth. I read Traction in 2015. In the last two years, our corporate team at SpeedPro Imaging has grown by more than 100 percent in order to support our franchise owners through a period of double-digit percentage growth. In 2016 alone, SpeedPro Imaging generated $58 million in system-wide revenue, representing a 14 percent YOY (year over year) increase. We expect to have added 15 new locations by the end of 2017.
Same story at Bredeman’s Soccer Shots. In the past two years, Bredeman has grown the corporate team by 150 percent and helped add 31 new franchise units. With new key values in place, franchisees turned their owner-operator models into scalable operations. It’s worked, as Soccer Shots generated 40 percent YOY growth and experienced a 38 percent system-wide sales increase in 2016.
And Young’s $100 million ShelfGenie seems to be on track for an amazing period of growth. Young has set an extremely aggressive growth goal of 500 percent for all companies he leads for the next three years. What’s more, I have a feeling he can do it.
That’s the thing about Traction. One you have it, you have the
momentum – and a formidable competitive edge.
7000 S. Yosemite ST. Suite 100