I first met Phillip in the early ’90s when he signed up for my nine-week “How To Run Your Construction Company” class offered by our local builders exchange. He was in his late 20s, smart, energetic and loved remodeling. He was ready to move from being a great remodeler to learning how to run a successful remodeling company. His sales at that time were under $1 million.
Two years later I got a call from him asking me to become his business consultant. His sales had grown to over a million, and while he had implemented many of the ideas he had learned in class, he was currently struggling with assorted challenges caused by his company’s growth. He wanted my help to address these issues and to move his company to the next level.
I worked with him on a weekly basis for about a year. We started with planning, worked on effective use of financial information as a management tool, wrote job descriptions, began hiring effectively, created other needed procedures and worked on his time management skills. All these activities resulted in Phillip focusing on what he wanted for his business instead of just taking what came his way. And what he wanted, his long-time dream, was to have a company doing $3 million in sales.
Given the company’s reputation, and the fact that sales was one of Phillip’s favorite things to do, he had a very achievable goal.
During my time working with Phillip, the company grew to $2 million in sales and did so in a very manageable way because he put the people and processes in place to do that volume of work efficiently and profitably.
Having accomplished this, I felt that it was a good time for Phillip to learn from his peers and remodelers. So, I recommended that he check out the various remodeling network groups to see whether there was one that might work for him. He found one he liked and joined. I wished him well and told him to call occasionally to let me know how things were going.
One of the hard things about what I do is that I move on and often lose track of people with whom I really enjoy working. That’s what happened with Phillip. But then, as these things happen, I ran into him one day and we actually had the time for a cup of tea, and a chance to catch up.
He had benefited greatly from the network group and was moving toward his $3 million sales goal when two things happened at once. First, his long-term, right-hand lead man decided to move out of the area. Second, he had one of those customers-from-hell that was not only driving everyone nuts, but threatened to eat up all his profits for the year. These two events caused Phillip to put on the nail belt and get hands-on for the duration of the project.
What he discovered, or perhaps rediscovered, was his love of doing the remodeling work. As the job progressed, he liked seeing the transformation of a vision to reality; he liked being physical again (and dropping those extra pounds he had picked up); and he liked the interaction of the people on the jobsite. It got him rethinking his business.
So, he abandoned his $3 million in sales dream and replaced it with a $1.5 million reality that produced nearly the same profits, allowed him to spend two to three days a week actually remodeling, and gave him more time to spend with his kids. It suited him well. He looked refreshed.
I share this story, because in my travels, conversations and consulting, folks will tell me that they want to do $3 or $5 or $10 million in sales. Then I ask them my favorite question. “Why?” Rarely do I get a well thought-out reply.
Their sales number, often picked much earlier in their career, had taken on some sort of magical, mystical quality that was never questioned or evaluated in terms of their current meaningful reality. Phillip backed into reevaluating his long-term dream by a set of circumstances. Maybe his story will prompt you into looking realistically at your magical sales goal and to check it out in relationship to your life needs today.
Linda francis, author of Run Your Business So It Doesn’t Run You, trains and consults in the remodeling industry. She is based in Northern California; phone: (707) 485-0162 or firstname.lastname@example.org.