When you go to a movie that is “based on a true story,” you know that the real story wasn’t really interesting enough for a movie. Making it based on a true story is simply a tagline that marketers use to gain attention. But I’m going to tell you a story that is actually true.
A good friend of mine was telling me about his daughter. She was 42 years old and a highly successful corporate attorney in Atlanta. He outlined her career and suggested that her future looked very bright, as a partnership was possibly in the works for her. As the conversation continued, I asked him about his son. I kind of wished I hadn’t when he explained that his son, now 35 years old, was a bum, a low-life no-good grifter — not a drifter like the hobos of old, but a grifter — willing and able to con his way through life without even the slightest bit of effort. After a while, I began to feel bad for my friend, and I expressed my empathy.
“Stop!” said my friend. “Stop right there! Don’t feel sorry for me. Don’t even think about it. It’s not so bad. As a matter of fact, it could have been much worse.”
“How could it be worse?” I asked.
“They could have both been lawyers,” he replied.
I laughed and laughed and still do every time I think about that conversation.
My lawyer friends love jokes like that. Of course, they always like to believe they will get the last laugh when you or I come crawling to them for help. So, here’s another true story about lawyers, and it’s not very funny.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
I was recently visiting with a certified public accountant (CPA); we were talking about my recent book titled “Why Won’t They Pay Me What I’m Worth!”
He said that while reading my book, he decided to follow my previous advice about taking fewer, cherry-picked clients. I told him to select his best clients and create a menu of better services he could offer to them at varying prices. I suggested that he look at his time as his No. 1 asset and stop spending it on low-paying clients who needed just as much time as better paying clients. He informed me that now, other than a few quarterly meetings with clients, he only needs to do accounting work during the tax season and can spend most of the year doing what he enjoys, which is buying and selling cars and real estate. It’s not every day you get a warm feeling from your CPA.
And now, for the rest of the story …
During this meeting, we discussed other professional occupations. He told me that I would be surprised by how many lawyers had financial troubles — as bad as or worse than contractors. He said the “feast or famine” routine was very common because lawyers, like contractors, seemed to think they could just put up a shingle and clients would just flock to their doors. He said that when they had a few good clients, the money was good. It was definitely feast time. Well, I could certainly relate to that. In my early contracting days, I thought money grew on trees. A few good customers, when you are just starting out and have nothing to compare it to, makes it look like being in business is the cat’s meow.
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
In our industry, the contracting service business, we are told repeatedly to track key performance indicators (KPI). Over and over, I see contractors paying someone to tell them which numbers to watch. But it’s simple, really.
In order to be successful, you need money; but to get money, you need jobs. Before you can get jobs, you need customers calling you for work.
So, let’s start with the first thought: Clear off a space on the wall in your office and determine that there is one important number to be written on that wall every day. That number is the lead count or incoming calls for service.
How many technicians do you need to keep busy each day? Let’s say it’s three. How many service calls a day do they each need to run? What is their closing ratio for running those calls? What is the average ticket per call for those technicians?
You can see I am coming with several numbers to track, and we will get to that, but I want you to just have one number to learn to follow, and follow it with blood.
|leads (incoming calls)|
Let’s say each of your techs needs five calls a day to close four of them at an average ticket price of $300 ($1,200 a day or $6,000 per week). If you need $18,000 for the week, you know which number to paint on the wall. That number is 15. Nothing else matters until 15 calls are booked for every day of the week.
SOUND THE ALARM!
Let’s say it’s 9 a.m. and only five calls are booked for the day. Do you go for breakfast? Do you play golf on your computer? Do you take the office staff out for mimosas? Heck, no! You sound the alarm — all hands on deck! You need 10 more booked calls.
What can you do? Pick up the phone to call someone and say, “Can we work for you today?” Go through the last several months of tickets and look for additional work you can do. Start calling your list with a coupon or offer you can make. Do something … anything … just get the number 15 written on the board. When you can write that number, then you can sit down for a cup of coffee.
What if you get a whale, a big fish, a super customer, on the first call of the day that buys a $10,000 system? Do you get to relax? No. You do not relax until 15 calls are booked for the day.
Feast or famine management comes when you think you are all right because someone sold something this morning. This is what gets you in trouble.
I have a new favorite quote this month. It goes like this: “Success is not owned, it is rented, and the rent is due every day.”
Many people quit looking for work as soon as they find a job, but if that is you, then you can expect that customers will fade away.
There are many numbers you can track. But if you are not tracking your leads, you are living in fantasy land. There are five numbers that you need to know every minute of every day to create a foundation solid enough to build a legacy. Send me an email, and I’ll tell you how to make “work” a lot easier.
Publication date: 4/1/2019