When speaking to groups of business owners, I’ll often start with the seemingly simple question of: “what business are you in?” In a room full of contractors I’ll get answers like; ‘the window business’, ‘I’m in the roofing business’ and so it will go UNTIL, the wealthiest person in the room gives us the real answer.
Too many business owners get the answer to this question wrong. And too many more when hearing the right answer, dismiss it. They want to grow their business, they want to make more money, they want to work less but, don’t want to accept the one little shift in thinking that opens the doors to real wealth in business.
Most business owners want to believe that if they just get better at doing their “thing”, be a better window installer, have a better product that they’ll be successful. That the world will beat a path to their door. But, how many of the contractors that sell the best roofing, window, gutter, ________ fill in the blank product are dead broke? Yes, the answer is too many.
I was lucky to have discovered the right answer to this question early, my first business actually. I started in the carpet cleaning and dyeing business. When I started I knew I wanted to build a business not be a cleaner of carpet (hint 1). I was fortunate to have seen what a multi-million dollar cleaning operation looked like so I had a model I could follow. At the same time, I knew a guy who was in the business for years, out cleaning carpet every day. He made a decent living doing the ugly, back-breaking work. But if he wasn’t out there doing the work, there was no money. In fact to make matters worse, he relied on his skill as a cleaner of carpet to drive his business. He waited for the phone to ring. He waited for someone to tell someone else about him so he had another carpet to go clean. I realized quickly I didn’t want to live my life like that. So I shifted my thinking. I went from the “doer” of the thing, to the marketer of the thing. I didn’t clean and dye carpet anymore, I was in the business of marketing and selling carpet cleaning services.
You see, once I shifted my thinking, everything changed. I looked at my business in an entirely new way. Instead of figuring out how to just be better at cleaning carpet instead I focused on how to create leads. I worked on getting better at selling my services. I figured out how to get other people to do the $12/hour work so I could do the $500/hour work. I figured out how to keep my customers so they’d keep coming back to me instead of going and looking for someone else. I figured out how to get them to tell other people about me and my services.
In fact, I got so good at the marketing and selling pieces, in my next 3 businesses (including a home improvement company that did thousands of jobs a year) I never did “the thing”. I created systems for delivering what customers wanted and needed. I realized that my wealth and my freedom came from two people, me and my customer. I knew that I would get everything I wanted just by serving more and more customers. For me the skill I had to master was the skill of making happy customers. And, coincidentally my most successful clients have learned to master this same skill.
So, if you truly want to grow your sales, your profits and take more time off, you must start with the understanding that you are in the customer business. The Wealthy Contractor is in the business of:
- Creating Customers
- Keeping Customers
- Multiplying Customers
Next time, we’ll start talking about specific strategies for creating, keeping and multiplying customers.
For now, start to look at your business as a sales and marketing organization that just happens to sell ____________, and I guarantee you that this shift in thinking will set you on your path to being a Wealthy Contractor.