An Ever-Evolving Company is a Successful Company

If you’ve been in business for a long time, it’s only natural for some complacency to set in after progressive ideas likely got you started on your business journey. But it’s important to stay open to some change if you want to maintain your success.

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How long have you been in business? Twenty years? Perhaps 40 years or more? Apparently, you’re doing something right then.

Think back to the beginning of your business journey, and the vision you had as an employee at your previous workplace for how a few course corrections could take the company to the next level. When you were in the trenches, you could see the inefficiencies, carelessness, and missed opportunities due to what you viewed as complacency from management and ownership. The top brass seemed to have lost their hunger and thirst for more because they were satisfied with their current position. The moment in time when your eagerness outweighed their sense of security was the moment you took action and went into business on your own.

What you didn’t see then was the hard-earned wisdom and purposeful patience your boss was administering. Your lack of perception and understanding about the subject of ownership made you unconditionally fearless. You routinely brought up the idea of change time and again, yet your efforts were stifled because the only thing your boss saw was the risk involved with your ideas. He couldn’t see what you could see, and it was his wallet that would be affected by those changes if they didn’t pan out. You abandoned the crusade.

So you got into business for yourself and never looked back, keeping the familiar business model of your former employer but making the necessary changes you knew could make a precision-guided profit machine — that is until you took a risk on a big idea or project and realized how you could lose it all at a moment’s notice.

When the risk doesn’t pay off, and the threat of losing everything you hold dear is now stirred into the pot, you have introduced fear into the equation. You begin to coast just as your former boss did. The glimpse of fear and the unknown paralyzes your decision-making and hammers you into complacency. You start to hunker down and focus on retirement, family, investments, and begin to micromanage your business. Before you realize it, you have become what you formerly despised.

There is no room for total complacency in any marketplace, especially the plumbing and drain cleaning industry. You need to be tactically and tastefully open with your employees. Have a control group with your workers and ask them to write down a few things they think could make the company more efficient. To the seasoned business veteran, this may sound like a trap as they know from experience that this can turn ugly at times. But if done properly, it can create a more profitable and open communication work environment.

If you have someone who brings up an idea that you were considering changing anyway, bring them aside and tell them you looked at their idea and it sparked a positive change in the company. At the end of the day, you are providing the structure for the technicians and office staff to succeed. They are using that structure to provide you with the money to pay the bills and turn a profit. One side helps the other succeed. Your employees could take advantage of this and say, “I want a raise because I helped with issues,” “This is your job to figure these things out, not mine,” or the infamous “I brought in a list of complaints.” But you should still be open and deal with it.

Our trade has historically been arduous. People were willing to start at the bottom and work their way up. They expected criticism, deadlines, to be screamed at, to show up early to work every day and leave late, and be a “company man.” This is no longer the case. The corporate world has been dealing with this new generation for the last 20 years. The plumbing and drain cleaning world has only recently stumbled upon them out of necessity for our workforce shortages. Try to find a balance between protecting your assets without opening yourself up to significant risk and tweaking a few of your corporate strategies. This new generation does require some finesse and tact: Open communication, coach don’t scold, and slightly adjust the course of your company’s ship. You can still push toward the destination you saw in your head all those years ago, but that doesn’t mean you can’t handle a few course adjustments along the way — especially if it could help you get there quicker.

Change is not always treacherous. At times another word for change is innovation. Change can lead to an evolution of your company, expand your horizons, and bolster your profits. An adjustment is not always a high-risk gamble. Every time you entertain the idea of a good change, just think of the word “tweak.” Tweak is less scary than change. The real risk is total complacency in the marketplace.

About the Author

Anthony Pacilla is a registered master plumber for McVehil Plumbing in Washington, Pennsylvania. He has 23 years' experience in the plumbing and HVAC trades, and has a bachelor’s in business and economics from Thiel College.


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