Generally speaking, we set the standard and the foundation for excellence every day when we go to work. Then when the opportunity presents itself, we will have laid the ground work to elevate ourselves to the next level. For small- or medium-sized family businesses, the slightest bit of a helping hand can make all the difference in the world. We must therefore be prepared to acknowledge and accept the little snippets of wisdom when they come our way. Here are a few examples:
One night a few years back, sitting at the computer returning emails, I saw an email from a fastener manufacturer. Like many, I’d usually hit delete, but for some reason I read this one. Inside was a short online product survey. Since we used their products, I took a few minutes to complete and submit it. At the end, a free T-shirt was offered as a thank you. A couple weeks later, the manufacturer logo’ed shirt arrived in the mail. In the box was a note asking that if I had any nice projects being completed using their product, to please take a photo of myself at the job wearing the shirt, and send it on in. The shirt was thrown under the back seat of the truck and forgotten.
A month or so later, upon tightening up a jobsite, soaked and filthy, I was in need of a clean shirt. Out came the box, the T-shirt, and the note. What the heck, the job wasn’t bad, so I put the shirt on and snapped off a couple pics displaying FastenerMaster’s “Pride in Craftsmanship” slogan. This was a Friday night While loading the other job photos onto the computer, this photo popped up. Hey, why not send it in? By 8 a.m. Saturday morning, an email came back from Janet Blake asking about the project and if I had any interest in participating in a new video series. Sure, what do we have to lose? Janet guided us through the process and made it an extremely comfortable experience. It was an absolute succeess.
So the long and the short of it: the video was shot, and sales skyrocketed. Clients were calling, commenting on the video. People were loving it. The photo showed up on the banner in their booth at the very next DeckExpo. Unbelievable. What more could you ask for? All of this positive growth started by a single innocuous survey response, an email, and a shirt. An opportunity nine out of 10 people most likely ignored. To be honest, one we may have ignored a dozen or more times ourselves.
Fast forward a couple years. Sitting in an airport, there’s a guy wearing a Diamond Decks shirt. Being a NADRA member and former Contracor Spotlight of the Month, the company name was immediately recognizable. My first thought was, “Hey, I need to meet this guy.” After introductions, a fast friendship was born. Even though work territories overlap, this gentleman, Bill Zinnert, had absolutely no reservations about passing on knowledge, ideas and advice on things that have helped make him successful. That type of idea sharing is what NADRA is all about. But it’s also mutual respect with your industry peers. Bill’s sharing of his insight gave the push that was needed to raise my business to another level. Not only did Bill freely share advice, but he pulled out his phone to show photographic examples. Examples like the use of drone photography, wrapping vehicles, how to cultivate the funds for it, better organizing your day to accomplish more in less time, and creating a better quality of life. Wow, talk about paying it forward. We should all be so fortunate to find a mentor like this.
Again, most deck specialists are incredible visionaries, designers and craftsmen, but at times we tend to get caught in our own bubble. We love what we do and tend to work so darn hard that we don’t always take the proper steps to create better lives for ourselves and our families. When that helping hand is extended to us, we don’t always recognize it for what it is and we move past it. You should never be afraid or too proud to accept it.
So as we head into the fall months, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, I want to take a second to thank all of the folks out there who have graciously and selflessly taken that moment to mentor, coach and extend the gift of knowledge to the next generation of deck specialists. After all, every builder has had to come up through the ranks, take their lumps, and learn from their mistakes. Each of us met that person or crew leader who taught us the ropes and tricks of the trade. We also needed that person to help with the business side of the industry. It’s our turn to be that person.
If you have any questions, ideas or photos you wish to share, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.