How to Go Bankrupt

May 27, 2011

By Adams Hudson

Mary B's Family Buffet closed down last week. This place had been a near institution in my town, having come around when the ‘buffet style' eatery was born.

Back then we called them Cafeterias, but that name faded about the time that Shopping Centers got renamed as Strip Malls. (Sort of like Hobos became Homeless and Getting Fired became a Downsizing Victims, except those phrases conveniently shift responsibility. Discuss.)

This place just fell out of favor, failed to change. I'm fairly certain that at least one of their baked potatoes had been there since opening in 1964. I'm positive a couple waitresses - and their hairdos - were original. Yet so too was the décor, the menu, the ‘cattle call' feel of eating there. Plus another thing never changed: Their patrons. It was routine, in the best and worst ways. As their average age approached ‘deceased', tables no longer filled. Groups of 5 dwindled to 2. Multiple table turns became singles... on a good day. Dinner went from a bustling nighttime family occasion, to a late afternoon salt-free and mostly flavorless event. You could tell this from the outside looking in.

Not changing sounds ‘safe'; yet it is the riskiest of all business propositions, and a complete illusion to the practitioners. It is the precursor to certain demise.

It's funny. Change frightens most of us, but "new and improved" are the best-selling words in advertising, have been for eons. There's an important distinction here that will help you sell more, in any environment, at any time, to anybody. Ignore this principle and you too can become the forgotten baked potato of contracting.

What is the Distinction?
We may not embrace personal change readily, but we expect and pay for change in the things we buy, own, and use. The reason is the same: Don't make me change if this has done the changing for me. Brief example with the ‘answer' contained in these behavioral files...

For Example: Training seminars for businesspeople were at one time about "movements". The movement from the employed downtrodden to the eager employee primed for advancement. Then the star had to actually ‘fit in' so the movement went from the frightened and incommunicable to the Toastmaster. The Toastmaster could speak well enough, but lacked confidence to "do", so the Self-Actualization movement of the 70's helped people meet a job task with confidence.

By the 80's, this false confidence was deemed impotent (at best) and thus Personal Power emerged, mostly out of the EST (Werner Erhard) and NLP (Tony Robbins, its most famous spokesperson). The "you can do it if you see yourself doing it" and mental power over obstacles enlightened nearly 20 million people to buy the Personal Power audio training series. Self-help exploded with product.

By the 90's, we were exhausted from doing it ourselves. The motivation and self-actualization waned; we just wanted someone to do most of it for us. "Kits" and "Packaged solutions" were born.

You could Deal-A-Meal your way to weight loss, you could lie on the Ab Roller and get a washboard stomach, you could stick on a patch and quit smoking... will power be darned.

Now we're fully into the "just do it for me" zone. I want a personal trainer who'll do everything but actually lift the weight. (I guess that's next.) Instead of teaching me the principles of sales mastery, I want a sales coach in my ear, telling me what to say to each prospect. Better yet if you just come and close the sale and give me credit. Millions upon millions are spent on coaches - and deservedly for the good ones - to "unstick" us from our complacency to where we started this...

The ‘rule' is that either you'll change or the world will change for you. And if you haven't picked up on it, the "mass" behavior hasn't changed an iota. Sure, each stage sounded like a solution, but throughout there are the "changed" and the "unchanged". The money flows FROM the second group TO the first group. Happens every time.

The cool thing is that just realizing this can change your money flow.

Pondering and productivity are rarely Linked. Actually doing the steps takes you to change. Yet most don't. They sit, they "wait" to be changed, they "wait" for the crowd to come back. They wait, and eventually turn the "OPEN" sign the other way around.
Sears Holdings. Borders. BlockBuster. OfficeMax. Pier1. And yes, Mary B's Homestyle Buffet.

Your Action Plan:
1) if you've been "thinking about" getting better at something for the last few years, look around. My guess is others had the same idea and a few did it. So, your "thinking" is great; your implementation may lack. Get a coach and follow the advice.

2 ) If you've "wondered about" online marketing, or retention marketing, or consultive selling, or contractor publicity but didn't know where to turn, your curiosity is asking the right question; but incomplete research has become an excuse for you.

We keep a list of "hot" advisors in most every topic related to contractor sales and marketing. Doesn't matter to me where you get help as long as you're willing to change for the better.

3) If you've had a "Nagging concern" about any topic in your business related to change, your subconscious (or the Holy Spirit) has dropped that on you for a reason. It is trying to get your attention. Seek those who have been through this same challenge because they love to tell the story of how they changed and beat it. (If you're a contractor consultant and wonder how a lazy pig like me who doesn't love travel gets to have the best job in the world and be with his family every night, email me. I'd love to tell you.)

It has been said that you can tell the age of a man by measuring his resistance to change. I say you can equally foretell his proclivity for business irrelevance by the same measure.

Get out of the buffet line. A feast awaits those willing to change.

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 or faxing company information to 1-334-262-1115. See other marketing reports at or call 1-800-489-9099.

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