The recovery is starting to gain real traction. I am hearing optimistic outlooks for positive sales growth in 2013 from many parts of the country.
If you own a kitchen/bath firm, now would be a good time, before you get too busy, to look in the mirror and ask yourself: Am I the one that’s holding back my company from turning into an engine for wealth? Many small business owners are guilty of this, but most don’t recognize it. Or worse, they won’t admit to it.
Kitchen and bath firm owners are never going to better their bottom lines, and build a sizable corporate net worth, until they make a full commitment to working on their businesses on a regular basis, not just in them. As the economy rebounds, and owners get busier developing leads, quoting jobs, closing sales, managing their projects in the field or managing their busy staff, the risk is that the flaws in their business models get covered over, never to be completely fixed.
Perspective, Discipline, & Accountability
You may argue that you survived the Great Recession because you had time to fix the flaws in your business model. And you may be right. But did you fix all of them …. or just the ones that were obvious to you?
Do you think that if the thousands of dealers who went out of business over the last five years knew their business model was flawed in some fatal way, they would have corrected it to avoid bankruptcy? The problem was that these failed owners could not see the fatal flaws because they lacked the necessary perspective.
And that’s the first key benefit of engaging a business coach: a fresh perspective on your company’s structure, performance and future. The best coaches are those with extensive business experience – available 24/7 – who take the time to get know you, your business model, your current financial standing, your goals and your challenges. In doing so, they lend your company a brand new perspective that is invaluable. They will candidly tell you what’s wrong with your business, how the flaws need to be fixed, in what order they should fixed, how long they will likely take to be fixed and what the outcomes will look like when they are finally fixed.
Ours is an industry largely driven by kitchen/bath firm owners. Many are designers first and businesspeople second. They respond to all the stimuli swirling around them – hot leads, great design ideas, fashionable new product introductions, client questions, installation issues, rep visits, social media, etc. As a group, it’s not much of a leap to think they may suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Kitchen and bath firm owners characteristically lack discipline such as carving out time every single week to work on their business. And that’s the second benefit that a business coach brings to the table: lending a healthy dose of discipline to business owners.
Effective business coaches will insist on having a set day and time every week to meet with the kitchen/bath firm owner to work on his or her business. It may be just one hour a week – and the meetings can be held efficiently by teleconference to eliminate travel time and expense. Once a dealer gets started with these regular meetings, it’s been my experience that owners quickly come to love them and look forward to the next one. Additionally, business coaching agreements require a 12-month commitment because history has proven that the most challenging directional changes and/or growth objectives take that long to achieve. Indeed, disciplined, incremental weekly developmental efforts lead to transformational results over a span of a year.
Most small business owners in the kitchen/bath industry do not have a board of directors. So they never have had to answer to anyone.
With a business coach on board, kitchen/bath firm owners will, perhaps for the first time ever in their industry career, be held accountable for completing a weekly homework assignment or a major development project by an established target date. After all, when was the last time you scolded yourself for not completing something on time? Being held accountable by a third party, which is yet another valuable benefit of hiring a business coach, can be a very good thing for moving a business forward.
For both small and large kitchen and bath firms, the results from fully engaging the services of an industry-specific business coach can be spectacular. For example, I know of one large firm that had more than a $500K improvement in its bottom line in just one year: from an $80K loss to a $460K net profit. Plus more than a few company owners have remarked to me that they wouldn’t be in business today if not for their coach. That’s why some progressive manufacturers in this industry are helping to underwrite the industry-specific coaching expenses of dealers in their network that represent excellent sales potential.
One of the best values that can be gained from the assistance of a business coach is the development of a strategic plan. Many kitchen/bath owners – particularly for those now in their 50s – desperately need one if they have any hope of selling their business at a premium price to finance a comfortable retirement. It can take 8-10 years of consistent development to get a kitchen business in prime shape to earn a high valuation.
And that’s where an industry-specific coach can, in particular, be a decidedly better selection. Having worked in the industry for at least 20 years or more, they don’t need years to learn about your business and try out different strategies. Analyzing your financial statements and using benchmarking reports, they can spot major weaknesses quickly, helping you to implement proven strategies for maximum traction forward. Additionally, an industry-specific coach costs considerably less than a generic business coach whose fees usually range from $1,000 – $2,000 per month.
Properly organized, developed, and managed, a kitchen/bath design firm business can indeed become an engine for wealth generation. Any dealer seriously interested in getting on this pathway to bona fide business success should engage an industry-specific coach now before “I’m too busy” becomes a convenient excuse.
Dealers, both large and small, who are too busy to discover what truly ails their company, too busy to commit at least one hour per week to work on their business or too proud to think they could use professional advice are destined for endless marginal financial performance results.
If you would like the recommendation of an industry-specific business coach, please email me at [email protected].
Ken Peterson, CKD, LPBC, is president of the Chapel Hill, NC-based SEN Design Group and Instructor for 2013 Regional Seminars that are co-produced by Kitchen & Bath Design News. Peterson can be reached at 1-800-991-1711 or [email protected]. Thank you).