Systems and Perseverance

In my last post, I talked about shifting our focus from our goals to the steps we will take to attain them. In other words, viewing the means as the ends.

This perspective can be particularly beneficial when we are pursuing a goal that does not show immediate results. Viewing the means as the end helps us to persevere. It helps us continue the steps necessary to attain our goal.

As an example, I often meet a lot of resistance when I teach contractors my sales system. A big part of the resistance comes from the fact that I suggest that the contractor raise his labor rate. They don’t believe that they can sell jobs at a rate that is 50 percent to 100 percent higher than what they have been charging.

If they continued doing things as they have in the past, their concerns would be valid. But sales do not occur in a vacuum. Increasing one’s price involves more than simply putting a higher number on the estimate. Obtaining higher prices must be a part of a sales system.

The sales system that I teach involves a series of steps that are relatively easy and inexpensive. They are designed to immediately and significantly differentiate a contractor from his competitors.

Once they overcome their fears and implement the system, contractors discover that customers are not as concerned about price as much as the contractor believed. They discover that their closing rate remains the same (and often increases) despite the higher price.

Our goal as a salesman is to sell paint jobs. But if we focus on getting the sale, rather than the process to obtain it, we do ourselves and the customer a disservice. And we get fewer sales. However, if we focus on the system—the steps necessary to achieve the desired result—good things usually happen.

Focusing on the means makes it easier to persevere when things aren’t going well. And perseverance makes it much more likely that we will get the results we desire.

Doing Whatever it Takes, Part Three

This week, I’ve been talking about dealing with problem customers. I’ve previsously written about my worst customer. But I haven’t shared something that happened two years later.

The customer had violated numerous provisions in our contract, including the terms of payment. Two years later, he emailed me several times to let me know that several items needed attention per my guarantee. I ignored his emails, but then he sent me a certified letter. While I was tempted to ignore the letter as well, I decided to address the issue head on.

I sent him an email and informed him that, because he had violated the terms of the contract, there was no guarantee. I pointed out to him that the contract stated that a failure to meet the terms of the contract, including payment terms, would void all guarantees. I never heard from him again.

Doing Whatever it Takes, Part Two

In the last post, I discussed a customer who wanted a two-coat job for a one-coat price. I wasn’t willing to do that, but another company was. I’m still in business. I doubt that they are.

We have all heard the adage that the customer is always right. But that’s not true, but all too often contractors act as if it is.

Certainly, we want to satisfy our customers. Sometimes this means putting up with a little BS. But we have to draw a line. We can’t let the customer use and abuse us. We can’t do whatever it takes to make the customer happy, because that might mean spending the next year at her house.

Customers are human beings, and some of them are simply looking to take advantage of us. It would be great if we could spot them before we ever took the job, but that isn’t reasonable. However, when they make their intentions clear, whether explicitly or implicitly, we need to stop them in their tracks. If we choose to do whatever it takes, it might mean putting ourselves out of business.

Doing Whatever it Takes, Part One

Years ago, I had an experience that I still remember vividly. When I met with the customer to look at her project, she said that she wanted the walls painted the same color. I bid the job for one coat, and that was clearly stated in the estimate.

When the crew arrived to do the work, she informed them that she had changed her mind on the colors. We told her that one coat probably wouldn’t provide sufficient coverage. She told us to do one coat and she’d decide how it looked.

She wasn’t happy with one coat, and I provided a price for a second coat. She didn’t want to pay us more for a second coat. We completed our work, got paid, and moved on to the next project.

The customer later posted a review of our company online, stating that she had hired another company to finish the job because they would do whatever it takes.

In other words, the other company was willing to do a two-coat job for a one-coat price. That might make the customer happy, but it is a sure way to go out of business. I will say more about this in the next post.

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