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HOW TO FINISH SECOND, Part II

By Chuck Violand

November 9, 2015

Born Lawrence Peter Berra in a hard-working section of St. Louis referred to as “The Hill,” Yogi Berra is one of the most recognized and accomplished athletes ever to play baseball. Dropping out of school after the 8th grade to support his family, Yogi didn’t let his disadvantaged position in life hold him back. Or the fact that he was a very “squatty” 5’7” with a humble appearance, once saying “So I’m ugly. I never saw anyone hit with his face!” He is a World Series record holder, Hall of Famer, and three time MVP. He also served in WWII providing gun support during D-Day. Through it all he worked hard always remembering to “Take it with a grin of salt.”

I often hear owners of restoration and cleaning companies express how overwhelmed they are, how they hope no one else notices that they may not have all the answers. Most business owners are like Yogi in a way. Not everyone is born with the natural ability to be a tycoon, but through hard work and a lot of guts, they “play” their way into the big leagues and make a name for themselves.

Yogi became known first as an athlete, but is maybe more famous for his sayings than his play. Known as “Yogisms,” many of these sayings can be applied directly to you and your business to help you better fit the part.

You can observe a lot just by watching.” How well do you know the day-to-day activities of the people in your organization? The most productive leaders in our industry take time to physically walk around and observe their employees every day. Watch for things they are struggling with and work with them to find creative solutions. If you see employees performing exceptionally, tell them specifically what you liked and do it publically. Being noticed in front of their peers goes further than you think.

Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” Competition in restoration and cleaning has never been tougher. The increased presence of franchises and TPAs, and low barriers of entry makes it seem like there is a new competitor every day. So go where they aren’t. In other words, find your position in the market and stay true to it. If a decision doesn’t match your company’s marketing plan, don’t go with it. You’ll just confuse your customers and employees, and create more headaches for yourself.

A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.” Costs are going to keep going up. Too many companies do not understand the importance of job costing, regular review of financial statements against specific Key Performance Indicators, and constant efforts to reduce COGS. You can sell all the jobs you want, but it will be “Déjà vu all over again” when you are lying in bed wondering where all the money went. Aren’t you in this business to make a profit? Don’t hide from that! But don’t let it consume you either. “Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.” Even more so in your business. It takes a lot of sweat to grow your company. It also requires making informed decisions. Manage your business from your financial statements but don’t lead using them. There is a difference! Remember that sustained profitable growth comes from leading with solutions formulated through researching better service for your customers. If you do that, the money will come. You can trust Yogi on that.