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EP 13: Contractors: 3 Key Traits Of High Performers vs 3 Key Traits Of Low Performers – James Dale

3 winning characteristics of an elite contractor
3 common habits that are holding you back
How your chosen network can help you rise, or fall
The toughest entrepreneurial lessons, and what you can learn from them
Values and goals aren’t enough; one further step to create success
Why you need to start seeing money as a tool, not a goal

Watch Episode 13 of the Contractor Evolution ShoW

Listen to Episode 13

Read a Summary of Episode 13

Have you ever wondered what makes an elite contractor “elite?” Or, let’s put it another way, what keeps the Chucks in the trucks stuck?

Experience? Investments? Luck? While these may play a role, the difference between success and failure is perhaps the one thing you may not have considered: The best of the best exhibit specific habits and ways of thinking – and the same holds true for those stuck in a rut.

Prior to becoming Breakthrough Academy’s director of training and development, James Dale spent more than a decade as a senior vice president at College Pro Painters, working with hundreds of top entrepreneurs. He knows the elite levels of the contracting world inside and out – and why so many people keep spinning their wheels.

James, our guest on this episode of Contractor Evolution, breaks it down for us.


He says there are 3 characteristics that inform the elite contractors, and conversely, 3 reasons why the Chucks keep getting stuck.

1. Elites Think Big

It’s not so much that they want big profits (of course they do!), it’s that they think BIG: they have a long-term vision and a five or 10-year plan to get them there.

Elites know they don’t need to accomplish everything all at once to achieve that vision. As James says, “Test with bullets before you fire the cannonballs.” The idea behind this is that if you fire a cannonball and use all of your powder and miss, you deplete your stockpile and lose, however, if you fire bullets until you make the necessary adjustments to hit your target, then you fire the cannonball, and wham, you succeed. By following a strategic plan you build momentum towards your end goal.

“The great contractors I know remind me of wartime leaders,” says James. “If their business is having a bad week or month, they will take action right away.”

2. Elites Take Charge

Not only can the best of the best make decisions, they make them quickly and….well…decisively. “The great contractors I know remind me of wartime leaders,” says James. “If their business is having a bad week or month, they will take action right away.”

James cites COVID as an example. It prompted the true elites of the contracting world to quickly assess the capabilities of their business and pivot almost instantly to accommodate radically compromised markets.

3. Elites Know Talent

Great contractors are like sport coaches who have an unerring knack for picking the right team players and gaining their trust. They also have superb recruitment skills: “They’re always sending the message that they’re successful, growing, and looking for good people, versus ‘Hey, we’re scrambling here and need help,’” says James.

So what about those on the other end of the scale? The Chucks? Those contractors, in contrast, have developed three habits that are holding them back.

1. Chucks Can’t Focus

Often they pride themselves on being full of ideas, “But they try to do a lot of things and wind up not doing anything really well,” says James.

2. Chucks Aren’t Coachable.

In short, they’re not open to other perspectives or suggestions. “You need to have a bit of swagger and some ego to run a successful business, but (close-minded) people get in their own way,” says James.

3. Chucks Are Surrounded By Negative Influencers

The source of negativity could be friends, colleagues, or even family members, but the outcome is the same: “The advice and support you get really holds you back,” says James, adding that often the closer you are to the source of bad influence, the harder it is to identify the problem. Know when it’s time to dump those who are holding you back, and surround yourself with peers who have the experience, insight and attitude to help lift you up and get you where you need to go.

James shares many other insights with us in this episode. It’s time to adopt those winning characteristics and join the elite crew. Tune in and enjoy this episode of Contractor Evolution!

Igor Trninic

Igor Trninic

Igor moved to Canada at a young age, where he learned the value of hard work as he watched his family rebuild a thriving life in a new world with extreme change. Most of Igor’s early learning came from competitive sports, where he learned how to hustle and lead. This learning transferred well to business, when he started running a College Pro Painters franchise at 18 and quickly grew it to one of the top franchises in Canada. After finishing an honours degree in Accounting and HR at the SFU Beedie School of Business, he decided to leave the dull world of numbers and followed his passion of developing people and businesses. He fell in love with leading great people and growing companies to their potential.

Working at College Pro as a General Manager for the franchisor, he tripled the revenue of his division in three years by hiring and leading great managers. Here, Igor saw the power of combining amazing people with strong systems to drive scalability. After College Pro, he chose to test these principles on a new venture with the launch of Shack Shine, and together with the guidance of a highly experienced trades entrepreneur, they grew the company to a full scale franchisor within a year and a half. Shack Shine was eventually acquired by 1-800-GOT-JUNK to be scaled across North America and Igor launched the Breakthrough Academy to guide trades and home service entrepreneurs grow their businesses through proven principles. Igor has a passion and true care for developing people and their businesses, which has formed the foundation of Breakthrough Academy. His work in developing BTA has recently been highlighted in Igor’s Top 30 Under 30 selection by BC Business Magazine.

Igor resides in Vancouver, British Columbia and loves to take on all the adventure that BC can offer. From hunting to skiing to downhill mountain biking, any outdoor adventure is up his alley.

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Welcome to Contractor Evolution, a show created for high-performing contractors that are focused on scaling up, working less and increasing profitability.

While a lot of other shows focus on early stage growth challenges, we focus on real life scenarios faced by contractors that are scaling at a rapid rate, and how they keep everything dialed in without losing sight of work/life balance.

If you’re ready to evolve from a contractor into a better business owner, you’re in the right place.

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Would you like to find out? Take the 10-day ‘Evolved Contractor’ Challenge and identify the methods that will scale your business past 8-figures.

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