Tough Times or Time to Get Tough?
October 27, 2008
The “WOW” factor: This is what you strive to give your customer when they walk into an installation that you have completed. As installers and the construction industry, we are saying “WOW” what has happened to the economy?” not quite the “WOW” factor we were looking for.
As I travel across the United States I speak with some installers who are actually staying busy right now doing residential installations. When asked what type of installations, most are stating renovation type installations. The commercial segment is also still holding its own, but overall the residential side of the industry is feeling the downturn of all floor coverings.
For those who aren’t as busy as they would like to be, it’s time to take a hard look in the mirror and decide, am I tough enough to make it through this? Many installers have not had to go through tough times until recently. Those installers who were installing in the ‘80s should remember the difficult times that occurred; are you one of the tough ones that made it through? So how did you do it? Did you just keep doing the same things you did every day or did you change? Did you go outside of your comfort zone to find work, or dress a bit nicer when making contacts with retailers? Did you improve just a bit so that you would stick out of the crowd?
Now when I say tough, it has to be in many forms, taking a tougher look at your:
Attitude- If you feel the world owes you or is not fair, well guess what, you need to make an “Attitude Adjustment.” The world is not fair and it doesn’t owe you either, but if you don’t keep a strong positive attitude, the world will eat you up financially and drain your emotions. Every motivational speaker I listen to states “Attitude is Everything” and I totally agree. Self-esteem, self-confidence and self-dignity must be the base of your foundation both in business and your personal life.
Personal Appearance- Too many installers are looked down upon before they even set foot in a retail store or a clients home or business. First impressions play a big role in our “service industry.” I have known installers who are great individuals but the way they dress, their tattoos, the jewelry they wear, and not the kind that hangs on their neck, but more the type that is imbedded in their face, does not represent them as professionals. Remember, during work it is the clients time, after work it is your time. Take a moment to look at yourself in the mirror in the morning and ask yourself, would you feel comfortable with someone who looked the way you do in a home with small children or around professionals in a commercial building? If you wear piercings, take them out while working and put them back when you are finished working for the day. If you have tattoos, cover up while on the job. Yes, it’s a “freedom of expression right” for every individual to express themselves, but as I stated before, we are in the service industry and as such we need to hold ourselves to a higher level. The clothes you wear can make a difference for you and others. When you look and act professional, you will be treated as a professional and you will have a better self esteem. Remember “DRESS FOR SUCCESS.”
Vehicle Appearance- Is your office on your dashboard? By this I mean is there paper clutter, boxes of blades, tools? Do you have a lot of unorganized clutter in the back or your vehicle? If a client were to look in the back of your vehicle would you be embarrassed by the way it looks? Once again, first appearances can make a positive or negative attitude towards you in a matter of seconds. Be organized with your work vehicle as it represents you and is a reflection of your business.
Hand/Technical skills- How do you compare? Do you have 20 years of experience or do you have one year of experience repeated for 20 years? If you have not been to an educational event in regards to your trade for over a year, then you do not have the hand skills or technical knowledge required for today’s current products. Products, technology, and installation techniques continue to change every year. Those who do not INVEST in training are not business minded, for if they were, they would understand that knowledge is power and with it you have the ability to negotiate the amount of money that you receive. You must have the desire to do better than just okay or just acceptable. By maintaining the BEST hand skills and the BEST technical knowledge, you have the ability to better position yourself in a slower market. Investing in training costs money but it will be money well spent. The installer who has these skills has much more value to a retailer or consumer.
Communication skills- Are you returning phone calls? Calling your retailer/customer when you are running late? It’s amazing what a phone call can do! And remember to keep your phone calls to yourself, this means try to go outside of the home or business to conduct business or personal calls; the customer doesn’t want to hear about your other business or your personal issues.
Business skills- We just covered the basics that need to be addressed for business skills. If you are missing even ONE of these items, then you need to get back to the basics. These are just a few of the BASIC CORE REQUIREMENTS to stay in business. It’s not just about having the knowledge to balance a check book that gives you business skills. I wish all the best for those going through these tougher times and for those of you who are busy, don’t get too comfortable; remember, you may go through a slow-down at some point so be prepared!