Deal with the truth about yourself, your business model and the performance of your team members.
Since I have been involved with advising others since 1998, I have come to some conclusions about the matter of “facing the truth” about myself – and observing others as they failed to see the truth about themselves and about their business situations.
Self-delusion is the death of organizations and literal death of individuals who are unable to see things for what they really are in real time.
Let’s take a business example for fun. When I started working for Advanced with my best friend Frank way back in 1986 I was sure of one thing. It was that the best business was one with recurring revenue streams. My idea was that it was best to sell a service that would lead to doing more business later on again and again and again without having to re-sell the service from scratch every time. By 1996, only 10 years later, we were able to hit $1 million in annual revenue on the last day of our fiscal year. We were joyous. We doubled that in another four years. The only way this worked was to focus on building the recurring revenue of the company, building a great team and being obsessed with our reputation for doing great work.
Let’s compare that with some others that I have gained exposure to over the years. I know a few folks who started their pest management companies 10 or 15 years ago. They have been working pretty hard since then and have pretty good reputations. Here is the problem: They became addicted to the “one-time” service. They fell in love with the thrill of handling a customer’s big immediate needs and walking away after the job was done and waving goodbye. They don’t ask customers if they want to prevent the problem from returning or if they want to begin a preemptive approach to wildlife, pest or termite problems. Thus, 10 and 15 years later, the company has failed to grow. And to add insult to injury, they go days without receiving a phone call that they are needed at a property for a “one-time” special to solve a problem.
Could you envision what it would be like if you approached your dental needs this way? Don’t brush your teeth or anything, and then when you get a cavity or a tooth abscess, go see the dentist and take $2,000 with you because this is going to cost! It is cheaper in our profession to prevent problems than to fix the issues caused by them. So, it is a great value for the customer and the pest management folks if you get to go to the same location and do service for the same customer over and over for years on end. We get to count on their business month in and month out, and they get to count on the warranty and extra service you will provide if it is needed, without huge extra fees being charged.
The human resource issues are a major part of the delusional business owner. We are truly blind when it comes to keeping poor performing folks on the team. One great man I know has a nice company and the folks there do good work; however, there are some problems at his place of business.
- The primary – only – office helper sits on a love seat in the outer office every day at a certain time and watches her favorite television show. It is understood in the company that they are not to bother her during her television time. The owner cannot bring himself to tell her that this practice is not beneficial for the team. He just refuses to deal with it. Meanwhile, the phone rings off the hook or goes to a voicemail system during work hours.
- Now this is a sticky one. The lady running the bookkeeping is incompetent when it comes to doing the work. To make matters worse, this individual is the owner’s wife. She misses deadlines and she makes mistakes on paychecks. It really, really makes folks upset when things like this happen. The owner refuses to find a way out of this problem. Meanwhile, vendors and team members alike are really appalled by this kind of thing.
- Here is the worse one of all. One guy has a technician that shows up for work with a smell of liquor on his breath. He won’t mention it to him for fear that the employee will quit his job and the owner would have to run the route while he tracked down another technician to do the job.
Take an objective look at your company and yourself, and make sure that you are not one of these delusional people who fail to do the best thing for your company or team or let things happen that you know are wrong because you just don’t have the guts to do what you know is right.