Turn on any television or visit any news website and there are a dozen instances of how bad the economy or real estate industry is doing. Every political campaign promises change while the next minute every campaign is running the same old negative campaign ads bashing the opponent. When things get tough every business owner has to address tough decisions on how to create new opportunities, motivate employees AND customers, where is the best return on investment for marketing and what kind of attitude to have.
Attitude is not everything yet it is a personal decision made each day that will make or break a company. If business is slow it is easy to blame others for making the economy bad or competitors for taking your business or even employees for not performing as well. Any or all of these items may have merit and should be addressed professionally as needed.
In a round table meeting after the Midwest Builders Show last year a retired builder angerly shared that the main reason he felt his company had failed was competitors copying his floorplans and then selling them cheaper than his former company. After the meeting two other local builders vocalized their opinions that poor customer service, constant delays and excessive spending resulting in higher sales prices for homes were more likely the reasons behind the business failure. The failed business owner had spent more time focused on what his competitors were doing than adjusting budgets, addressing ongoing quality problems and correcting the fundamental issues within his business that led to the eventual closure.
Companies cannot continue to do business the same old way expecting different results when everything has changed. Tough decisions need to be made on where the best Return on Investment comes from in marketing, materials, supplies, employees, training and future plans. One of the first things Builder Consulting did when the markets slowed was to sell the enormous Hummer H2 SUV’s that guzzled gas and felt like overly lavish expenses when most of our customers were facing difficult times. Many other aspects of the business were adjusted, staff were cross trained and Builder Consulting invested a significant amount of money to support customers having the most difficult times.
Builder Consulting paid for the website hosting, updates, marketing and hired additional customer support professionals to communicate with customers on the best way to reach buyers. Training classes are offered each week to teach customers how to most effectively utilize the website, understand the traffic, follow-up with buyers and make updates using the 24/7 online updating systems. Not all customers facing challenges have made it though it was not due to lack of effort or attempts to help as a partner rather than a vendor. Accountants and other business owners say that when someone cannot pay then it is best to cut losses, disconnect services and move on. Our philosophy is if someone is having a difficult time than the worst thing anyone could do is kick them while they are down and stop the only changes they may have at improving business through reaching buyers online.
It may not be the best way to run a business when considering cash flow or income but it is the right thing to do. Somewhere along the line people and businesses stopped considering what is right and wrong and began thinking only of income; what other companies are doing instead of how they may improve their business and chose what kind of attitude they wanted to have.
Challenges and issues will always be part of business, how we act, react and work through them is up to us. Make the decision to take the high road, help others in need, focus on the positive instead of negative and make things better because you are there.
Robert ‘Dot Com’ Jackson