I coach business owners and business executives and am often encouraged to learn how GIVING my clients are in every aspect of their lives. Unfortunately, when it comes to business, it seems, my clients struggle to make the transition from GIVING to WINNING in business. In fact, when a business owner decides to hire a coach, they’re usually losing money and spending way too much time in their business.
Jerry started a lawn-mowing business when he was 16. Jerry started mowing a few yards to earn extra money during his summer break in High School. Then he decided to add snow shoveling to his business as his same lawn-mowing customers wanted their sidewalks and driveways cleared of snow. By the time Jerry was 18, he had 40-lawn-mowing customers paying him $40 per lawn per week yielding him a cool $32,000 a year plus an additional $10,000 per year in snow shoveling revenue. After deciding to skip college and mow his way to wealth, Jerry decided he could do even more yards if he hired some help and purchased more lawn maintenance equipment.
In order to make his plan work, he would have to increase his lawn-mowing prices $50 per yard to pay for the new equipment and additional employees. He struggled with this decision as his customer complained they couldn’t afford Jerry’s higher prices. As a result, Jerry continued to charge many of his loyal customers the same price he always had. As Jerry hired more people, his new hires seemed eager to join his lawn-mowing enterprise; but then quickly asked for more money as Jerry’s lawn mowing business grew.
Jerry had grown his landscaping business to over $1,00,000 per year in revenue, but was losing almost $20,000 per year. He had debt for the equipment he had purchased, and a substantial lease payment for his new equipment shop. It was at this point that Jerry decided to hire a business coach to help him with his business. The coach took one look at his financial reports and told Jerry that he could not last the way he was going. He was charging too little to mow yards, he was paying too much to his workers, and the productivity of the workers he had was costing him thousands of dollars in lost profits.
Jerry felt like he was a good person. He had tried to serve his customers, and serve his employees. He was reluctant to increase his prices, lower his employee’s wages or tell his workers to be more productive. He felt that all of these tasks were counter to who he was as a person. He felt like he had to be MEAN to be profitable. He didn’t understand with his heart for SERVICE, why wasn’t his company simply making money?
The business coach told him that his competition was paying 20% less than he was; his competitors were charging variable rates for yards, but averaging fees of $45/yard, and most of his competitors staffed about 80% of the people that Jerry staffed. If Jerry simply changed three things about his business, he could turn his $20,000 per year loss into a $200,000 per year profit; which he needed to reinvest back into his equipment and shop.
As we attempt to start our own business, it is often the case that we start on our own and then decide to grow it. When we set our prices, we only think about earning money for ourselves. Then we decide that we may want a family which costs more money, then we decide we want to grow our business requiring more equipment, labor, higher taxes, and costs to manage the business. When we get these money pressures, we’re reluctant to raise our prices, or be deliberate about managing an efficient workforce because it seems that we will be MEAN when we do so.
The reality is that, if you want a business to survive, you need to charge appropriate prices; and pay your folks a fair wage that allows you to make a profit. If you cannot accomplish these things, you have no business being in business.
In our story, Jerry has a simple choice: He can make the changes asked of by his business coach; or he can close his doors, lay off his employees and force his customers into his competitor’s hands. Now, which is the NICER option?
How Does A Business Coaches Help?
There are two things a business coach will do to help business owners in the place that Jerry found himself in our story: 1) Point Out Facts; and 2) Change Thinking. The first one is relatively easy. The mathematics of business dictate that Jerry needs to increase productivity, increase prices and lower wages.
The second one is somewhat difficult. Jerry needs to elevate his thinking from “SERVICE” to “WINNING”. By WINNING, I’m not referring to Jerry getting greedy. By WINNER, I’m referring to the ability to see how Jerry can WIN while also having his employees WIN and his customers WIN. Let’s see how Jerry’s decisions can create a WIN for everyone:
- Increased productivity. Good entrepreneurs are able to improve the amount of production with the same or less investment. In the landscaping business, this could be: reducing the price of landscaping materials, buying high output equipment, or giving employees a bonus for higher work output. The company WINS because it has the ability to do more work with the same resources. Customers WIN because their work will be done promptly. Employees WIN because they have an ability to earn higher wages for higher output.
- Reduced labor costs. Reducing labor costs is usually about created EFFICIENT labor systems. Many employers will over-employ; and then be reluctant to increase individual wages in order to keep all of their employees working. The WIN for the economy is to only hire who you need and pay those loyal, hard-working employees well. Overall, you will pay less, because you will have a lean and effective staff. You WIN because you will be able to keep your costs in line. Your customer WINS because they will pay reasonable prices for your services. Your employees WIN because they ones that stay will make reasonable wages.
- Increase prices. If you offer low prices, it is inevitable that one of three things will happen: 1) you will have to pay your employees less; 2) you will starve your company of needed profits; or 3) you will have to reduce the quality you deliver to your customers. All of those are LOSSES. If you increase your prices above a reasonable price, you will also eliminate wins for your company and your customer. That is why it’s imperative to know what your product should cost and price your services accordingly.
When a business owner finally decides that WINNING is a WIN for everyone, he understands that changing his thinking to WINNING is truly a positive SERVICE to all stake-holders in his business… including himself.
If you are interested in learning more about business coaching, I’d love to chat with you to see if I can help you. Just fill out the contact form below, and I’ll set up a time to talk.
Note from the Author
My name is Jeff Schuster. I am a certified Life and Business Coach serving small business owners, corporate executives and others who want to transition from “expert” to “entrepreneur”. I have been a small business owner for most of my 30-years in the workplace. I grew an energy efficiency and renewable energy engineering and construction company from nothing to over $10-million/year and sold it in 2013. I now help other business owners make amazing progress toward their own dreams of business ownership independence and success.