I recently went to visit a new client. Company officials knew that they needed to change if they were going to survive.

For two days we went through financials, pricing, productivity, etc. They found out that their prices weren’t high enough to cover their real overhead cost per hour or to generate a net profit per hour that they were comfortable with.

The biggest issue and resistance came from the owner’s wife, who still wanted to dispatch using paper — even though the company had great dispatching software. She wasn’t good with computers and didn’t want to learn. The irony is that the husband wanted to go paperless. I told both of them, in front of their dispatcher/customer service employee — who wanted to use the software — that paper was holding them back.

On the ride to the airport, the owner’s wife was sullen and quiet. I said that she was mad at me because I told her that paper wouldn’t work. I then said, “You didn’t hire me to tell you what you wanted to hear; you hired me for solutions.”

Still silence.

I’m not sure if they will make the changes needed to grow their business.

The reality is that if you know something isn’t right, you can’t continue doing it the way it’s always been done. If you want to grow profits, you might not be able to do everything the way it’s always been done.


Seeking assistance

There are many, many people who can help you — not just me. The key is trust. If you trust your outside advisers, feel confident that they know what they are talking about, listen to them and act on their recommendations, you generally will be successful.

If you choose to get outside opinions, be prepared to hear things that you don’t like, get “chewed out” when you procrastinate, and praise when you achieve the goals that you set. If you’re not getting all of this from your outside advisers, find other people to be your outside advisers.

There are many ways to have outside advisers. The obvious one is a board of directors or an advisory board of diverse businesspeople. You might ask your banker, attorney, a noncompetitive business owner in your industry, and other people whom you trust to meet with your company each quarter. They review financial statements and help keep you on track to reach your business goals.

You also may choose to have outside advisers from your industry. A networking group of geographically diverse owners who have companies of similar size, goals and objectives to yours may help you. You meet quarterly or every six months and may have telephone calls in between.  

Some of the most successful company owners I know of belong to successful peer groups. What makes them successful? Trust, time put into the meetings and everyone in the group helping each other and not being afraid to say what they really feel.

Finally, you can hire a consultant. Generally, consultants come in to help with a specific problem, be it growth, cash flow or employee issues. Be prepared for change. The good ones will help you a lot — however, you have to be prepared for a little pain along the way.

 Outside oversight will help keep you on track to achieve your goals and help see minor issues before they become major problems. Make sure that you trust your advisers and are willing to listen to them, regardless of whether you are paying them. It’s one of the key areas for business success. 

Copyright Ruth King. All rights reserved. Write to Ruth King at HVACChannel.tv, 1650 Oakbrook Drive, Suite 405, Norcross, GA 30093; email ruthking@hvacchannel.tv; call (877) 520-4321.