the Contractor Bookshelf


No matter where you are in your business journey, someone else has been there before – juggling client relationships, maintaining work equipment, strategizing for increased profitability. And once in a while, they write or recommend a book that helps us up our game and solve our greatest challenges.

We asked professionals in the home services industry to share the books that made the biggest difference in their lives.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Recommended for: Navigating Relationships (and Eliminating Drama)

“For many builders, the most challenging part of the project has nothing to do with construction: It is dealing with emotional homeowners and drama that arises during the project. While ‘The Four Agreements’ is not a book that is usually on a contractor’s bookshelf, it is a powerful book that can help a contractor to reduce conflict and eliminate drama in a residential construction project.

The four concepts presented by Don Miguel Ruiz are simple but not easy. This short book can be read in an evening, but it can take a lifetime to practice it. I have recommended this book to several of my contractor coaching clients, and I have seen the ease and peace it has brought to their business and personal lives.”

– Ed Earl, “The Zen Builder,” business coach for the Zen Building Group

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Recommended for: Optimizing Money Management

“One of the very first personal development books I read was ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad.’ Essentially, this book is a fundamental money management tool designed to help illustrate two polar opposite viewpoints of dealing with money.

The author’s ‘Poor Dad’ has been slaving away working at the same job for over 30 years, complaining about how close he is to retirement, how little he has saved, and how much he owes. The author describes this as the ‘Rat Race,’ making the observation that the ‘Poor Dad’ is trading his most valuable asset (time) for money.

He then paints a story of ‘Rich Dad’ (his best friend’s father), who lives a much different lifestyle. His best friend’s father utilizes the power of investing to leverage his income, and to free himself from the ‘Rat Race.’

The book has been an instrumental building block for the way I handle money, and most importantly, the way I operate my business. It has identified the major differences between an ‘asset’ and a ‘liability,’ and it has helped mold my decision-making process when deciding which of these to pursue. If you’re a business owner, aspiring entrepreneur, or simply someone who doesn’t have a clear understanding of the basic fundamental principles of how money works, and how it can work for you, I highly recommend you read this book.”

– Tanner Mullen, Owner of Premium Painting in Ocala, Fla.

The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel

Recommended for: Finding – and Realizing – Your Business Goals

‘The Master Key System’ was published as a book in 1916, and it is essentially a “class” with 24 sections aimed at helping the reader to meditate, visualize their goals, find truth and concentrate deeply. Chapters include exercises like sitting still, visualizing a flower growing, and focusing on the things you want in life (or, in this case, business).

“If we recognize our potentialities in the world within they will take form in the world without.”
– The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel

This is the quote that encompasses ‘The Master Key System’ for Reid Gravitte, owner of After Hours Home Improvement in Springfield, Va. “You have to visualize and believe in your goals internally and see them take fruition,” Gravitte says. “If you do not have that desire and vision inside, you will NEVER have it in the real world!”

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

Recommended for: Prioritizing Culture and Customer Service

‘Delivering Happiness’ is about the journey of Zappos as a company, as told by CEO Tony Hsieh. It emphasizes the importance of passion, happiness and culture in the workplace, as well as a deep focus on customer satisfaction.

“Customer satisfaction is one of the top influencers in our business today. Taking a cue from leading companies such as Amazon, Apple and Zappos, we found the most common denominator was the level of customer satisfaction that they provided to their clients. By making sure that ‘every customer feels special,’ we have been able to see our business succeed where others have failed, simply by providing top-notch customer service. In this book, you will find that customer satisfaction impacted [Zappos’] business drastically, which we’ve applied to our business and which helped us succeed.”

– Moty Ginsburg, CEO of Treeium

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell

Recommended for: Being – and Creating – Good Leaders

“At DaBella we have a growth mindset – our values are lead, care, grow. As the CEO, it’s my responsibility to develop strong leaders throughout the company and create an environment that allows our people to constantly grow. ‘The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership’ by John C. Maxwell is an excellent guide to developing and honing these skills. The book breaks down 21 facets of leadership in a way that is easily digestible and replicable. And it’s an excellent place to begin with both young leaders looking for development and established leaders pushing themselves further. I go back to this book often to reinforce ideals and realign myself with our vision.”

– Donnie McMillan, Jr., CEO of DaBella

The Professional Landscaper’s Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Start and Run Your Own Landscaping or Lawn Care Business

Recommended for: Running a Well-Oiled Landscaping Business

‘The Professional Landscaper’s Handbook’ is a comprehensive how-to for starting a landscaping or lawn care business, with advice for everything from choosing a company name to getting your business license and winterizing your equipment.

“Reading this book always brings me comfort because it keeps me grounded and reminds me where I started and how far I have come.”

– Luis Uribe, Owner of A Greener Tomorrow, Inc. in Culver City, Calif.


Is there a book that changed the way you run your business? Or a book that simply helped you gain perspective?

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