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Business Book Club: ‘Hitting For The Cycle’

The godfathers of the CI business, Paul Starkey and Steve Firszt, offer actionable advice in a quick reading guide.

Hitting for the Cycle - Book

I’ve known Paul Starkey and Steve Firszt for over a decade. These guys are the hands-down godfathers of CI business profitability and have been spreading their gospel across the land like Johnny Appleseed since 2005. Who else in our industry stood up and created an amazing coaching practice, teaching hundreds of CI businesses (including my own) how to get their chart of accounts, P&L, and job profitability in order? Who else gathered two dozen integrators and combined them into the largest CI business in our space? Needless to say, when I heard Paul and Steve wrote a book (THE book), I wanted to read it.

“Hitting for the cycle” is a baseball term describing the feat of getting a single, double, triple, and a home run in the same game. Apparently, this has only been accomplished 330 times in baseball history, but it looms large in the mind of dedicated players each time they take the field. In short, it’s baseball’s measure of perfection. Starkey and Firszt aptly draw a clear analogy between the diamond and CI businesses. They begin by lamenting the lack of standardization in our industry, especially when it comes to running the back office. Hitting For The Cycle attempts to establish these rules of the road much the same way CEDIA seeks out ANSI accreditation for its technical standards and certifications.

Also by Henry Clifford: What I Learned From ‘A World Without Email’

The book is a quick read with frequent stops at specific calls to action. I commend them for not giving in to the temptation of monologuing ad nauseum. The intended reader of this book (a harried CI business owner) doesn’t have time for a bunch of fluff. Instead, there are more than 55 very actionable nuggets that the authors claim, even if only a few are adopted, will result in over $20,000 worth of net profit for any CI business. As I browsed through the list, I smiled as memories came flooding back of having implemented many of them. Their $20,000 conservative estimated benefit is easily 10x that amount in the case of my own company, Livewire. Here are a few that jumped off the page at me:

  1. Have your technicians take their vans home and clock in when they get to the job site.
  2. Make sure you’re aiming for 60 percent parts margins, 50 percent labor margins, and 42 percent equipment margins.
  3. Have a parts runner deliver products to the job site vs. using expensive technician labor.

The list goes on and on from there. Anyone running a CI business needs to read this book. Anyone running an installation team needs to read this book. Anyone running a CI sales team needs to read this book. Anyone in the field longing for their “I want to get out of the field” moment needs to read this book.

The only eye opener might be the price tag — the book costs $999. What you might not know is the proceeds go to benefit Paul Starkey’s charity, Building Better Lives, dedicated to helping survivors of sex trafficking. When you factor in the wisdom contained in the book and the worthy cause behind it, it becomes a no brainer. Buy the book and watch your bottom line grow.

Stay frosty, and see you in the field.