"Sucking out" is a term poker players use to identify a player who stays in a hand until the last card is dealt and wins. The player who wins on the last card is referred to as a "suck-out" player. The odds of a suck-out player winning are extremely low but occasionally they get lucky and do win. I recently played in a Texas Hold 'em tournament and was dealt a pair of Jacks as hole cards. When the flop came (three cards dealt up) there was another Jack. Based on the three community cards I could see, someone else could have a straight, which would beat me.

For some crazy reason, I stayed in. The fourth card (turn card) was of no help to me but no doubt made a straight for someone else. I stayed in again for the last card (river card) and to my surprise it was another Jack. Three of us were left in the hand and I was in last position to bet. The first player bet and the second player raised. I called and to my glee the first player re-raised and the second player re-raised again. I decided to go all in and they called me. My opponents couldn't wait to turn their cards over showing both had straights. They looked at my four Jacks in amazement. "You sucked out," said one of the players. The other player didn't say a word, stood up and left. Yup, I had sucked out.

Other suck outs

Do your house plants look off color or are you seeing a black mold forming on the leaves? Aphids are tiny insects with six legs and two antennae with a sucking tube. There are winged and wingless aphids but both types of Aphids suck out. Aphids have a tiny tube they push deep into the leaf or petal of a plant thereby sucking out the liquid sap. Aphids are known as sucking insects rather than chewing insects. Aphids basically suck the life out of a plant until there's nothing left. The plant dies and the Aphids look for something else to suck the life out of.

The newly identified vampire fish is another suck out who feeds off larger fish by swimming into the gills of a fish and sucking out its life blood. Then there is the somewhat mythological Chupacabras or Goat Sucking animal story coming out of Nicaragua. Jorge Talavera supposedly killed a blood sucking Chupacabras after it had sucked 25 sheep dry in 15 days. His neighbor lost 35 sheep when they were sucked out in only 10 days by a Chupacabra.

The most common suck out expert is the female mosquito. Prior to laying eggs she looks for some warm blooded victim and extracts blood through a very fine tube that we often times don't even feel at first. If uninterrupted she will suck out enough blood to fill her abdomen leaving the victim with an itchy Mosquito bite.

Suck out theory

What is the best part of a job? Why do we do jobs? What does your employer want most out of a job? Where does the money come from to pay the phone bill at your office? My dad used to say, "Money may not be the most important thing in the world but it's second to whatever is first." If we tweak my dad's quote to read, "Profit may not be the most important thing in business but it's second to whatever is first," we might agree that sucking profit out of a job before it starts is a plan that deserves our undivided attention.

The next question to ask is: Will you have or take the time to suck the profit out of job before it starts? What does it mean to suck the profit out of a job? Sucking out profit begins in the office and ends in the field. The office can't rely on the field to be the only ones sucking out profit and the field can't rely solely on the office. The field and office people must realize they both have a responsibility to suck out as much profit as possible. It's a dream team approach that is radically impacted if either team relies solely on the other team's ability. Sucking out maximum profit requires both parts of the team to work in total harmony on the issue of profit sucking.

Sucking out profit applies to all size of businesses as well as all types. A small contractor who is willing to spend the time it takes to suck out as much profit as possible will be rewarded with roughly the same percentage of increased profit as a large contractor. It's a percentage thing not a big company/small company thing.

Profit sucking is not cheating, stealing, short changing, underpaying or not paying at all. It's not about underhanded or shady ways of not paying your taxes and insurance. Profit sucking is not about hurting another business nor is it about shorting the customer. In my opinion, Enron and companies like Enron, intentionally hurt investors and businesses, as well as our economy for personal gain and did so using shady, unethical tactics. Enron is a good example of what is NOT profit sucking. Profit sucking is not taking advantage of the disadvantaged.

Profit sucking is not about hiring a guy and telling him to get his contractor's license so you can avoid having to pay employee taxes on him and his 10-man crew. Profit sucking is not about paying workers footage and then converting the footage to hours to avoid additional taxes. As well, it's not about underpaying a footage or hourly worker or back charging an employee because he/she covered some electrical boxes.

Profit sucking is ...

Profit sucking and ‘damage control' are two different issues. Profit sucking begins once you determine you have a good job free of major errors. Profit sucking will also help you determine if you have a major error. What is profit sucking and how do you do it?

We sell material and labor. You can say that we sell service, expertise, talent, specialty items or anything else. You may like to think that you sell much more than material and labor, but the truth is we sell material and labor.

In drywall, I generally use the 30-70 divided-by-time rule; 30 percent of the job is material, 70 percent of the job is labor. "Time" is the length of time it takes you to complete the job and collect the money.

The rule changes when a drywall job has a lot of heavy gauge framing. In our area, the rule may be 45-55 divided by time for this type of job. Again, 45 percent of the job is material and 55 percent of the job is labor. Time always stays the same. The longer a job takes the less annual return on your investment. As well, the longer a bad job takes the longer your working capital is tied up.

You can modify the rule to fit your geographic location based on your own material and labor costs. The key is to make a rule so you can identify your ‘profit sucking' targets.

The big three

Let's use a typical drywall job using the 30-70 time rule as an example in our profit sucking plan. Your bid was $25,000 and you built in a 20 percent profit margin. Your bid would look something like this.

• Material Cost: $6,250

• Labor Cost: $14,584

• Sub Total: $20,834

• Markup 20 percent: $4,166

• Time: 60 days: 120 percent

Annual Return

• Total Price: $25, 000

Now let's see if we can suck out some "additional" profit. Do you realize how many $25,000 jobs are done every day? Every job you win has the potential of being a huge success. Jobs are gifts with huge opportunities that many of us take for granted especially when we're busy.

Let's suck out some profit and see what happens to our $25,000 job when we apply simple principles.

• Suck Out Material Cost: $5,625

• Suck Out Labor Cost: $13,854

• Suck Out Sub Total: $19,479

• Suck Out Markup is Now: $5,521

• Time: 30 days: 264 percent

annual return

• Total Price: $25, 000.00

• Suck out profit percent: 22 percent

What happened? All we did was find a way to save $625 on material and $730 on labor. Our annual return skyrocketed to 264 percent on our investment. Do you see the three big targets?

• Material

• Labor

• Percent/time

Five steps

1. Get minimum of three quotes for material, and equipment etc.

2. Identify changes you can make that reduce your material/labor cost without compromising your customer's expectation.

3. Get customers approval for changes and share savings if required.

4. Meet with your superintendent-foreman and ask them for their ideas on saving labor dollars and time.

The reason I'm leaving out my fifth step is because I believe you more than likely have a fifth step that is better than mine. I could write pages about each step, but space does not allow. I hope I communicated the concept of sucking out and I hope you suck the life out of each opportunity with integrity and without inflicting pain. It's worth your time!

Remember: Teamwork begins with a fair contract.