Managing the Day to Day: Top Tips from a 20 Year Veteran

Managing the Day to Day: Top Tips from a 20 Year Veteran

If you’re a regular reader of Residential Systems, you’ve likely read an article or two from Parasol cofounder and Livewire owner, Henry Clifford. Every other week, Henry is dropping pearls of knowledge he’s picked up from seemingly random places to help improve his integration business. It seems as if every interaction in Clifford’s life has a business application. From the time he rented a jet ski on vacation to the time he was plagued by Nutsedge grass, Henry is always thinking about how to improve. And what’s better is he shares that wisdom – no holds bar – completely transparent – with readers. 

Maybe you’ve read a few of his articles, maybe you haven’t. Either way, we wanted to help spread this great advice to our dealers and followers. Here is a roundup some of his learnings over the past couple of years. 



Be ok with saying “I don’t know” and tap into the intelligence of others

You don’t always have to have the answer right away. It’s ok to have to ask someone else. In doing so, you open yourself up to the intelligence of others. It’s just one of many reasons why having a peer network is key.

The importance of having complimentary traits on your team

Are you a Firefighter or an Engineer? Meaning – do you excel at problem solving and “putting out fires” or do you excel at preventing issues and planning ahead? Each one has its own valid traits and each one is needed on your team. So if you’re one or the other, be sure you have someone who compliments you. 


Creating company culture

If you’ve read any of his articles or know him personally, you know that employee happiness and company culture are important. Here are some tips on how he’s fostered that culture at Livewire:

Practice lateral service: “Lateral service can only exist and thrive inside a healthy culture. It’s very much a referendum on how happy your workplace is. Focusing on making your company a great place to work will increase examples of lateral service exponentially. In order for all of this to work, you need to lead by example.”

Toxic high performers are not worth their sales: “No matter what they bring in, toxic high performers still hurt your business. […] Since we can’t make unhappy people happy, consider making your company a beacon for happy people. Happy employees make happy customers. Round and round we go. By focusing on things within your control like building a strong culture and not hiring unhappy employees to begin with, you’ll start to transform your business into a happy-person magnet.”

Developing a Rapid Improvement Plan: Following the advice of Brad Hams and his book, Ownership Thinking: How to End Entitlement and Create a Culture of Accountability, Purpose, and Profit, the Livewire team has been laser focused on eliminating waste. Ownership Thinking relies on the constant rhythm of implementing Rapid Improvement Plans (RIPs), which are quarterly sprints aimed at eliminating waste in specific areas. A GREAT approach to constant improvement, which, coupled with Henry’s incentive program has proved very effective for the Livewire team. 

You can turn B players into A players: “Someone who may have delivered A-Player performance in 1985 is considered a B-Player in 2022 because they can’t walk, chew gum, juggle, and use five different apps at once. Just because we can do all these things at once, doesn’t mean we should. By rigorously focusing on specialization and creating a modern-day knowledge worker assembly line, we can rethink how we work together and level-up many of our current miscast B-Players.”

Taking notes from great coaches in the NFL: “Great companies foster cultures of excellence where they let their team members know how the game is played, how they keep score, and where the supply closet is. The rest is up to them. Companies with a lack of direction are very often led (from the rear) by folks with a muddy understanding of where they’re heading and what winning looks like. If we don’t know when we’ve succeeded, how the hell are we going to grow?”

Photographic evidence of Henry practicing what he preaches

Managing the day to day

The Battle of next week is all about relationships

Dealing with the relentless backorders and bookings for clients who need things yesterday is exhausting. The solution? Picking up the phone and developing relationships

Customer onboarding should be seamless

The CI industry needs to take a cue from the “jet ski guy” and make the onboarding process as seamless – and online – as possible. If you’re still chasing down customers to get them to pay their bills, read this.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

Fight the urge to automate everything in your business. Some things still require manual, human interaction

Stop offering annual support

Please go through any of your RMR programs and delete the words “annual renewal” out of your documentation. Make everything monthly and reward years of commitment with discounts on hardware upgrades. Don’t even think about calling your client, hat in hand, next year grubbing for a service renewal. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg! You can find all of Henry’s articles here. We hope these help you in some way managing and running your business. As Henry says, “Stay frosty, and see you in the field.”

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