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Ep 15: Contractor Q&A 1 – Answering Top 10 Listener Questions with Igor Trninic and Benji Carlson

What traits to screen for when you’re hiring sales reps, managers, and high level staff in general
How to hedge economic risk in any business environment
How to put your foot down when you’re typically the nice guy
When to nurture an underperforming employee and when to let them go
How to incentivize high performers to stick around
Some of the best tactics for work/life balance

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Listen to Episode 15

Read a Summary of Episode 15

Every business owner deals with a number of pain points on their journey to success. Whether that’s recruitment challenges, stress and time management, or revenue and sales (to name just a few). Learning to navigate them alone can be tough (if not impossible).

Being able to reach out to others in the industry and learn from their successes (and failures) enables you to navigate those humps.

In this episode of Contractor Evolution, Benji and I have compiled 10 of the most frequently asked questions from contracting entrepreneurs and are stoked to share with you our experiences.

1. What is the number one key to building your best team and what do you look for when you hire?

First and foremost, I look for people that can, and want to take on more and more responsibility. You may have started your business doing everything, but to achieve success, you need to be surrounded by people who are willing to share the load, and grow with your business. Business is hard, with long hours, so it’s important to surround yourself with people you enjoy spending time with. At BTA we call it the “Beer & BBQ Test.” Would you want them over for beer and a BBQ? If not, they’re not the right fit.

As a business owner you need to be hyper aware of the responsibility you have on your shoulders and have an acute understanding of the “what if's.” Last year I spent up to 30 hours looking at the what if's and assessing how to maintain our core group of people. As a business leader you have a responsibility to them, so think ahead and be prepared.

2. What ways are you looking to hedge the economic risk of your company?

As a business owner you need to be hyper aware of the responsibility you have on your shoulders and have an acute understanding of the “what if’s.” Last year I spent up to 30 hours looking at the what if’s and assessing how to maintain our core group of people. As a business leader you have a responsibility to them, so think ahead and be prepared.


3. When managing your mental health as a business owner, what strategies do you use to deal with pressures and stress?

Business is full of ups and downs, so learning how to navigate that by living a full life is essential. You have to spend time doing whatever brings you energy. For me, that’s hopping on my mountain bike, or going on hikes, or skiing. Benji has his own strategies that include writing lists, reaching out to friends and fellow business owners for a venting session, closing down social media, and, something we both do, making sure we get enough sleep so we can tackle whatever comes our way.


4. What are 2-3 of your favourite hiring questions for sales reps?

Strong sales people know how to close, so you want to look for people who are wired to achieve goals. During interviews I look at their past track record for setting and achieving goals, whether that’s in school, sports, or work. They also need to handle the ups and downs of sales, so I look to see how well they stayed in pursuit of a goal, even when faced with significant obstacles. Look at their past experiences; it tells a lot.


5. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made when hiring a manager?

It’s easy to mistake someone who is good at something with someone who is able to manage…two very different skills. A great person on the tools, may not be great at project managing. When it comes to hiring a manager, the ability to communicate and have critical thinking is far more important than technical acumen.


6. How do I figure out the best role for myself as an owner and which roles to delegate to others?

People tend to spend so little time on where they fit, and more importantly where they don’t fit. It takes a wide variety of personalities, abilities and sets of experiences to ensure success. Pay attention to the stuff that fires you up, and the stuff that bogs you down. How do you feel doing a certain task? Remember, people are good at the things they like, and like the things they are good at.


7. How do you put your foot down when you are the nice guy and hate negative situations?

It’s tough. No-one enjoys these conversations. You love your business and have created an emotional attachment…but you need to realize your business is still your job and you need to do your job and set up your business for performance and success. It is your job to lead the organization to success and that is above the need to be liked by your people.


8. At what point do you cut ties with an employee, or continue nursing them?

The best way to do this is to look at your values, and if one or more of those values keeps getting consistently crossed, it’s time to say goodbye. Other people on your team will be feeling it too, and while they won’t come out and sandbag a guy, you will pick up on the vibe. Realistically 99/100 times, people are let go months after they should have been. If you are wondering if you should do it, you are probably past the point already.


9. What tactics have you implemented to provide better work/life balance?

You invest a lot of time and energy in your business; you have to get to a point where you’re excited to invest in other things. Life becomes a lot more well-rounded that way. Benji has self-imposed rules that he applies that are written into his block schedule such as no work at weekends, and no scheduled calls before 8:30am. For me, when I’m on my mountain bike, I invest in that one thing. Business owners that are one-dimensional can’t do it for too long. You need other things to make it to the finish line.


10. What’s an effective way of holding on to over-qualified staff and making room for them to grow within your business so they don’t leave?

Your business needs people to take on more responsibility and you need to wear fewer hats. Simple. Over-qualified people want to take on more responsibility and so it’s your job to, as I call it, see what homes on the mountain they need to occupy and how to help them ascend to them. Also, high performers want to be acknowledged, so pass the mic to them in meetings, or ask them to head up a training session for new staff.


In the latest episode, we delve deep and give you the steps to achieve success. We hope you enjoy it and thanks for joining us (and for all your great questions).


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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