I Can't Afford That!

August 12, 2011

By Adams Hudson

The following is an excerpt from a single conversation, but we hear "similar" comments regularly. If you read the 3rd paragraph closely, you'll find a very common business fault that strangles many contractors.

"I can't afford that," sighed Carey, a 14 year contracting veteran in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. "I used to say this whenever some ‘new' business thing would pop up."

"This happened fairly often. Like when we looked into a new digital copier/printer. The sales rep proved I'd save money over the old way. He'd show what I overpaid in toner, time wasted with employees having to get up and down instead of sending documents by email, the whole thing. And I'd give my standard response, ‘I can't afford that'."

"Eventually, after over-spending on our old system, we replaced it. I'd have been ahead if I'd done it sooner. But nooo " ... Carey mocked himself, "I couldn't afford it."

"Same for my old clunky phone system, training my techs, or replacing my aging trucks. Nearly every time I had to replace one, I'd look back and see that repairs, rotten mileage, and lost time in the broken trucks had cost me real money. Not to mention the negative ‘image' they sent customers."

"That's when I realized something that changed my business."

What Carey realized is a falsehood that hurts, even bankrupts many small businesses. The link explains this truth: Business die when small problems seem big and big problems seem small.

Carey nailed it. The death of small business is related to ‘small business thinking' which means that the thinking binds them to keeping the business small.

Though examples are myriad, there are 3 covered here.

1. "I can't afford training" 
No, you can't. Because if you look at today's dollars of having your techs, salespeople-CSRs in a classroom for a day or two and NOT earning money while you SPEND money on training, it's a loser. A total, complete loser.
But when they return tomorrow, and for a thousand tomorrows after that, better trained to a) Cut callbacks in half, or b) Bump average transactions by 10% and closing ratios by 20%, or c) Increase appointment set rates and ‘save' 10 angry customers a year... the returns are unfathomably huge.

When presented with training, ask yourself two questions: If effective as promised, will it move the needle? (Meaning, improve THAT area.) Second question: How will you measure results and when? If you (or staff member) doesn't plan on measuring it, don't invest.

Top companies invest 6-12% of sales in training, which can be online, ‘live' Trade Events (group training) ‘live' on-site (company-wide) or a combination. Recent advent of group and remote ‘coaching' is both cost-effective and regularly encouraging.

2. "I can't afford to upgrade my web presence"
No, you can't. Because you don't see a return on it today. Your SEO may not change for weeks. You're not standing over the shoulders of those searching, who are presently grossed out by your site never to return... if they can find you at all. But today,
64% of home service purchases begin online

91% of Google searchers don't ever make it to page 2.

So if you're not on page 1 of your in your ... you're like, nowhere. Truth: You're spending more not to have a strong web presence than to have one.

Something simple you may not believe: 94% of contractors have NOT CLAIMED their Google local listing. (A resulting underground piracy has emerged; you may find ‘your' listing is no longer available.)

Urgent: 1) Check to see if your Local Google listing has been claimed. 2) If not, claim it now. This is fairly simple (takes maybe 2-3 hours the first time.)
◦Free Google Claim Check, Website Grade Rank - We'll check to see if you're listed at no charge. Send email to freewebcheck@hudsonink.com

3. "I can't afford to take time off."
No, you can't. You've got bills to pay, jobs to get, vendors to grind into submission. And that's today. But you can't always ‘see' a solution if you're 2 inches from the problem. And your family sure can't see you if you're slumped over your desk. Give problems at work their space.

I once took a 4-day ‘vacation' that included spending 3 hours with an industry mentor, at his house, while my wife and children shopped. It was incredibly valuable for all of us.

Give yourself back to those who love you, give yourself some recreation (literally "re" "create"). Unplugging has its virtues. Even God took a day off.

How? Schedule the time off and your mind will find a way to accelerate solutions just before. FACT: Productivity in the week preceding a scheduled vacation increases by nearly half (+41% Nate's Productivity Monitor).

Focus on the big stuff: Customer satisfaction, sales, reputation, employee morale. Keep those in order, sales will come. Don't focus on the nail-biting, morale-eating, "I can't afford it" stuff if the big things are jeopardized.

The question is can you afford not to have it?

Questions for You:
1. What was the last thing you considered investing in but said, "I can't afford it"? Is it true, or was that a cover up because of the tyranny of the urgent?

2. Have you claimed your Google Local Listing? No kidding, this is an industry-wide PROBLEM. It's getting worse. If you DO NOT KNOW or want a quick website review (which includes checking the local listing) send an email to freewebcheck@hudsonink.com

3. When was your last vacation? Be honest. A REAL vacation, away from work and countless interruptive calls, texts, emails ABOUT work? If your answer is either "I don't know" or "Over a year ago" its time. Schedule it now, thank me later.

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a creative marketing firm for contractors. PHCC members can get a free report "Upsell Your Way to Higher Profits" by emailing their polite request to freephccstuff@hudsonink.com or faxing company information to 1-334-262-1115. See other marketing reports at www.hudsonink.com or call 1-800-489-9099.

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