Why

Willie McGarn looked forward to the monthly local association meeting of his fellow contractors. He thought the programs could use a little spicing up, but they were just icing on the cake for him. This was a chance to discern how other contractors in the area were doing. For himself, Willie wasn’t doing well. He was close to hanging it up and shutting the doors.

When he arrived at the hotel where the meeting was held, he headed to the bar. Sure enough, other contractors had already arrived. As he approached the bar he heard the unmistakable drawl of big Sam Henderson. “Well if it ain’t Willie McGarn! How you doing, Willie?”

“Hi Sam,” said Willie, purposefully dodging Sam’s question. “How are you?”

“Why if I was doing any better, it would be illegal,” said Sam jovially.

“I certainly see enough of your trucks around town. If you don’t mind my asking, how do you do it? No matter what the weather or economy, you seem to truck along.”

“Well,” said Sam, “Why don’t you drop by one day and I’ll show you my operation.”

Willie couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Sam Henderson was one of the most successful contractors in the area, heck, in the state! And he was willing to let one of his competitors see his operation from the inside? No way. Willie decided to call him on his bluff. “I’d love to see your shop.”

Sam pulled out his phone and began scrolling on it. “How about Friday morning? I usually head out to the deer lease on Thursday, but Wilma’s got me going to some performing arts thing Friday night and threatened me good if I tried to skip out.”

“Uh, sure,” gasped Willie. “How about 9:00 a.m.?”

“See you then, brother. Now, what kind of program are they having tonight? I hope it’s something more interesting than that guy from the city permitting office we had last month.”

***

Sam pulled into the Comfort Commander lot and parked in one of the spaces marked for visitors. He wondered what people would think seeing his gleaming white McGarn Air truck in front of half a dozen of Sam’s green and black Comfort Commander trucks. Probably think I’m getting purchased, he thought to himself.

He entered a small foyer and pressed a button next to an intercom. “I’m here for an appointment with Sam Henderson,” he said to no one he could see.

“Well come on in,” a woman’s voice answered through the intercom and the door buzzed.

Willie pulled it open and walked through. What he saw was amazing. The large, open office was buzzing with activity. Lots of people with headsets were facing large computer screens, talking with customers. The screens danced with schedules and time blocks. Others were looking at different data entry or accounting screens. Willie wasn’t sure which. Large LCD screens on the walls displayed company key performance indicators, salesperson rankings, technician rankings, and so on. One screen cycled through customer reviews.

A woman rose from one of the desks to greet him. “Hi. You must be Willie McGarn. I’m Patty, the office manager. I was told to expect you.”

“I am,” said Willie. “Thanks.”

“Follow me and I’ll take you to Sam.”

Sam was seated in a glassed-in office at the very end of the hall. The office was paneled in Oak, boasting a well-appointed bar, conference table, and battleship desk where Sam sat. Several hunting and fishing trophies were mounted on the walls.

“Hello Willie,” said Sam coming around his desk and motioning to the conference table. “Have a seat. Want coffee?”

“No thank you. I’m fine.”

“Let’s chat for a few minutes, then I’ll take you on a tour.”

“Sounds good to me,” said Willie.

While they were talking, Sam essentially told Willie everything about his company. He shared his sales, margins, profitability, average service ticket, average installation, and on and on. Sam couldn’t believe he was being so open. On the tour, he showed Willie his training room, technician lounge, meeting rooms, warehouse, including his stocking system, and let him listen to a call between one of his service managers and a technician who was on the job. Willie was fascinated with all of it.

As they headed back to the office, Sam stopped at a large printer and said, “Hey, look at this. This is my new toy. It prints vehicle wraps.”

“You mean, you print your own wraps?” asked Willie, in awe.

“Yeah, why not? Buying the printer is easy to cost justify and we’ve got enough trucks. I switched to our wrap design a few years ago. It was hard to swallow the cost at the time. I realize now it wasn’t a cost at all, but one of the best investments I’ve made. Comfort Commander trucks pop. They are distinctive. Because of our trucks, we’ve got the best brand awareness of any HVAC company in the area. You should wrap your trucks. No offense, but one white truck pretty much looks like another white truck. It’ll make a big difference in your business, I promise.”

“I’ll think about it,” remarked Willie, who hadn’t really thought about it before.

“Heck,” said Sam. “With this thing, I’m thinking about wrapping furnaces and maybe even condensing unit caps. I can make mine look different and maybe even charge more. If I ever get into plumbing, I’m sure as heck going to wrap water heaters and disposers.”

***

“So what do you think?” asked Sam when they returned to his office. “What are your questions?”

“Wow, well I’m a little overwhelmed. I mean, you’ve opened up some possibilities I never considered. You know they don’t teach this at the trade school.”

“Don’t I know it. Too many guys in the trade know more about turning a wrench than turning a profit. It’s why they price so stinking low. And ‘cause they price so stinking low, they can only afford to provide a stinking level of service.”

“I might be one of those stinking guys.”

“Well heck, son. Change. It ain’t hard. What are you charging? Wait, no, don’t tell me. For some reason, it’s illegal for us to compare prices. But we can talk in generalities. I can give you my pricing calculator. Punch in your numbers and it’ll tell you what you should charge. Low pricing is the single most common problem in the trade. It’s also the easiest to fix.”

“I don’t get it,” blurted Willie. “Why are you sharing all of this with me?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I’m your competitor,” said Willie, before stopping as he saw a blank look on Sam’s face.

Sam stared at Willie for a second, then burst into laughter. “Son, you’re not my competition.”

“I’m not?”

“For starters, which one of my satisfied customers are you going to take from me? None of them. The only way one of my customers would ever consider your company was if I screwed up. If I did a crappy job and then blew the service recovery, I might piss ‘em off so bad that they would look for someone else, at which point they would no longer be my customer.”

“I guess that makes sense.”

“And take someone who’s a prospect-at-large. Do you know who my competition is for that guy?”

“Other air conditioning contractors.”

“Nope. Given the price of a new system these days, my competition is anyone who offers something more compelling in the same general price range. My customer is the spa guy or the 4-wheeler guy or the river cruise vacation guy. They all want the same $15 to $25 thousand I want and their offering is a heckuva lot sexier than mine.”

Willie had never thought of it that way before, but he could see that Sam was right. “But,” he interjected, “No one can live without air conditioning, right?”

Sam grinned. “Right. So, while my competition might win this year or the next, there’s a finite limit to how long we can keep an old system working. Sooner or later the customer will be mine and I’ll make his life better, not for a few months a year or for a week, but for years and years.”

“Makes sense.”

“But let’s get back to you. How are you doing?”

“Not well,” Willie confessed. “Maybe it’s me. It just all seems so hard.”

“Then do something else.”

“What?” asked Willie. Of all of the things Sam could say, this was the last thing he expected.

“You spend most of your waking hours at work. Life’s too short to spend most of the time doing something you hate. Do something else.”

“I don’t know anything else.”

“Why did you get into air conditioning.”

“Dad was a refrigeration mechanic. He told me air conditioning was where it is at and I should go to trade school, so I did.”

“That’s why you started. Why are you still in it?”

“Like I said, I don’t know anything else,” said Willie. He was feeling a little defensive. Was this why Sam asked him here, so he could talk him out of the business and reduce the number of contractors?

“Let me tell you why I’m in it,” said Sam. “I’m older than you are. I grew up in the south in a big old, historic house that was constructed in the twenties. It didn’t have air conditioning. My parents were proud of the house, but either didn’t have the money to retrofit it or weren’t willing to spend it. Three rooms had window units. One was my parents’ room. I shared a room with my brother. When he got asthma, we got a window unit for our room but were only allowed to use it at night. The third was in our TV room. Guess where we spent all of the time?”

“The TV room,” Willie answered.

“Right. The TV room. In this big old house, we spent all of our time crammed into one of the smallest rooms because it was cool. The rest of the house was hot and muggy most of the year. The smell of mildew was everywhere.”

Sam continued, “You see for me, this business is more than a way to make money, though I do that. It’s like a calling. People are miserable when a Comfort Commander truck shows up at their house and comfortable when we leave. We keep people cool in the summer and warm in the winter. We represent a good night’s sleep. We contribute to home safety because air conditioning makes it possible for people to close their windows and lock their doors. Most people literally could not live in this town without air conditioning. What we do is important and we’re darn good at it.”

Hearing Sam describe the industry, Willie felt better about himself and what he did. He could hear the passion in Sam’s voice and see it in his eyes.

Sam paused and said to Willie, “Sorry, I get a little carried away. But that’s only part of it for me. I’m also here because of my team. I love to see people develop and grow. Now, how about you?”

“I… I don’t know.”

“Son, that’s your problem. It’s your biggest problem. Figure out why you’re in business and other things will start to fall into place.”

Willie thanked Sam and left. He had a lot to think about.

***

Willie asked himself, why was he in business? And why HVAC? The easy answer was to make money, but that seemed insufficient. He could make money in lots of ways besides HVAC. Given his total take-home, he could probably make the same or more working for someone else. Plus, he wouldn’t have the hassles of all of the government paperwork. So why was he doing what he was doing?

His train of thought was interrupted by the phone. “McGarn Air, Willie here.”

It was Sheila, his wife, dispatcher, and CSR. “Willie, we’ve got a no cool and Jim and Dave are both tied up. The customer sounds like she’s up there in years. Can you take it?”

“Sure,” said Willie. “Text me the address.”

***

Willie rang the doorbell, stepped back, and put on his game face smile. A short woman with gray hair pulled back into a tight bun answered the door. Perspiration was dripping off her face as she fanned herself with a hand fan. “Oh, thank the Lord you’re here. I think I’m going to die of a heat stroke. Come on in. Come in.”

“Yes ma’am. Can you tell me what the problem is?”

“Lord, I don’t know. It just won’t get cool. I think I’m going to die of heat stroke.”

“Okay, let me take a look. Don’t worry,” reassured Willie. “One way or the other, I’ll get you cool today.”

Willie started down his diagnostic process. It didn’t take him long to zero in on the problem. Ants in the contactor. He told the old woman what the problem was and recommended replacing the contactor.

“Do whatever you have to do,” said the woman. “My son and grandson will be here for a visit this afternoon. I don’t know what I would have done if I couldn’t get the house cool. Thank you so much.”

When Willie gave the woman the invoice after he finished, she looked sort of startled. “Is something wrong,” he asked, certain that she was going to complain about the price. They all complained about the price.

“No, there’s nothing wrong,” she said, handing him a credit card. “Why don’t you add $20 to the bill as a tip.”

“You don’t have to do that ma’am.”

“No, I want to. You’ve saved my family’s visit and made such a difference.”

***

At dinner that night, Willie said to Sheila, “You know, I went by Comfort Commander today.”

“So you told me.”

“Well, I’ve been thinking.”

“Uh huh,” said his wife, eyeing him skeptically.

“Yeah, I know. It’s dangerous for me to think too much. But I’ve been thinking that maybe we need a price increase.”

“We’ve raised prices every time the manufacturers jacked up equipment pricing.”

“I’m not talking about that. Well, maybe I am. But, I was really thinking about raising the labor component of our service pricing. I guess I’d do the same for replacement prices.”

“How much are we talking about?” asked Sheila.

Willie told her and watched while she made mental calculations. “Do you really think we could get that?”

“Yeah, I think we’re probably underpriced. I mean, what we do is important. We make people’s homes cool in the summer. We ought to get rewarded for it.”

Sheila smiled. “Do you know what a difference this could make?” She opened the calculator app on her phone and punched in a few numbers. My gosh, Willie, “We could pay down our credit cards. By the end of the summer, we might even have enough to take a real vacation. It would be a short one, but it would be a start.”

***

The rest of the week was busy. In between running service calls and babysitting his techs, Willie didn’t have time to think about Sam Henderson’s challenge to him. Saturday morning, Willie woke around 4:00 a.m. with a start. He sat straight up in bed. That was it. The old woman said it. His wife said it.

He got out of bed, grabbed a notebook, and started writing. When he finished, he leaned back and smiled. He read the page…

The reason why I’m in business is to make a positive difference in people’s lives. I will make a positive difference in my customers’ lives through the work the company performs by improving the comfort and air quality of the buildings where people work and live. I will make a positive difference in my employees’ lives by giving them meaningful work, fair pay, and opportunities to grow and advance according to their desires. I will make a positive difference in my family’s lives through the profits the business generates so they can enjoy an elevated lifestyle with tangible rewards and rich, intangible experiences that help us enjoy fulfilling lives. I will make a positive difference to the best of my ability.

Yes, he thought to himself. This is why I do what I do. I can make a difference.

___________________________________________

Matt is the 35th and youngest person to be inducted into the Contracting Business Hall of Fame. The Air Conditioning Heating & Refrigeration NEWS presented Matt with the 2018 “Legends of HVACR” Award. Contracting Business Magazine named Matt one of the 22 most influential people in the history of the residential HVAC/R industry. Contractor Magazine named him one of the 18 most influential people in the history of the plumbing/hydronics industries (Matt is the only person to appear on both the Contracting Business and Contractor lists). The Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration NEWS named Matt one of the top five business advisors in the HVAC industry. He can be reached at mmichel@servicenation.com or by mobile at 214.995.8889.

The Trust Cascade

Do you know about the trust cascade? Think of a series of pools where water spills from one down to the next. Each pool gets a little larger. This is the way trust cascades from source to source. If you can get to the top of the trust cascade, you can pick up customers where there’s less noise, less competition, and less effort overall.

Let’s look at the trust cascade in action. Last fall, after searching for the better part of the year, my wife and I bought a small ranch with a 140-year-old log cabin. The cabin has been expanded and renovated more than once, but it is still an old structure and there’s work needed.

Driving away from the closing my wife turned to me and said, “Do we know what we’re doing?” The answer, of course, was no. No clue. But I figured we could hire people who had a clue. We just needed to find them. This would prove harder than I expected.

Our ranch is located a little less than an hour from our house. It is close enough that we can run up there to take care of something and if necessary, return with only half a day gone. But it is too far to expect any of our service companies to make the trip. We need new ones.

Fortunately, the prior owners left us with a binder of the people they used. People in the binder had proven themselves reliable to the prior owner. They were at the top of the trust cascade. We called Tony for mowing. We called Lupe for cleaning. When there was a leak with the sprinkler, we called Clint. We never even considered calling anyone else.

There are other things we need repaired or replaced that aren’t covered by the binder. We need a new roof. We need some fence work. We need on-site small engine repair. There’s more. Who do we call? How do we find a good service provider?

Without question, there are people who can provide the services we need and who are looking for customers as desperately as we are looking for service providers. How do we find them? How do they find us?

If you were in our shoes, what would you do? Ask someone you trust for a referral? Other than the binder, referrals from a friend or neighbor would be at the top of the trust cascade. Unfortunately, we don’t really know anyone. I’ve never even seen a neighbor. It’s hard to even introduce yourself when every piece of property is gated.

I could search online, but that’s about like throwing a dart at a dartboard. Maybe I’ll get a good company. Maybe not. There is simply no trust present. This is the bottom of the trust cascade. If all else fails, search online.

You might point out that there are reviews. True. I’ll trust reviews when I’m looking for a restaurant but would rather not for major work on my house. The greater the expense, the greater the need for trust.

So, if the choice is between two companies I know nothing about and one has better reviews, that one might get the nod. It’s still further down the trust cascade than I want to travel.

I want a referral from someone I trust. Since I don’t know anyone, I’m planning on attending the community’s Rotary Club. I’ll ask for referrals from Rotarians.

In my own Rotary Club, I’ve found attorneys, bankers, realtors, commercial insurance brokers, a property tax challenge service, remodelers, and employees. I trust someone in the club or someone referred by a club member more than someone found at random. This is near the top of the trust cascade.

If there is a roofer in the Rotary Club, I’ll ask him to take a look at our cabin and probably give him the work. His competitor may do a lot of advertising, have a great website, and get a ton of good reviews. It won’t matter. Those are farther down the trust cascade.

If you want to operate higher up the trust cascade than your competitors, you must get involved in the community. Join a service club. Join a leads club. Get involved with the chamber of commerce. Participate in community events.

My Rotary Club has 60 members. Empirical research by Columbia University’s Tian Zheng suggested the average American knows 600 people. This means that my Rotary Club has a network of up to 36,000 people (i.e., 60 X 600). Some will know fewer than 600 and some more. Some will know some of the same people. Regardless, the people in the club collectively know a LOT of people. Service club members are connected and are community centers of influence. They are the people others call to find a good roofer, air conditioning contractor, plumber, and so on.

Larry Taylor, a legendary air conditioning contractor likes to say it’s easier to sell from the board room than the equipment room. He got involved in as many local organizations as he could.

That might not be your thing. Perhaps you would rather eat lunch by yourself than sit with community centers of influence who others call when looking for a service provider.

If you won’t do it, delegate it to someone else in your company. If no one will do it, hire someone with an outgoing personality to work as your company ambassador.  Put your business at the top of the trust cascade to get more business with less competition.

___________________________________________

Matt is the 35th and youngest person to be inducted into the Contracting Business Hall of Fame. The Air Conditioning Heating & Refrigeration NEWS presented Matt with the 2018 “Legends of HVACR” Award. Contracting Business Magazine named Matt one of the 22 most influential people in the history of the residential HVAC/R industry. Contractor Magazine named him one of the 18 most influential people in the history of the plumbing/hydronics industries (Matt is the only person to appear on both the Contracting Business and Contractor lists). The Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration NEWS named Matt one of the top five business advisors in the HVAC industry. He can be reached at mmichel@servicenation.com or by mobile at 214.995.8889.

Technician Accountability and Your Bottom Line

How To Utilize Technology To Improve Employee Engagement and Move Your Business Forward

No matter the industry, perhaps the most common trait of great leaders and employees is accountability. Why? Accountable workers can truly make a difference to a company by directly driving positive results.

The value add of accountable individuals can’t be denied. They take responsibility and pride in their actions and behaviors, providing full transparency into their work, strategies, successes, and any changes, challenges, or roadblocks they may encounter along the way. This openness and effective communication help create healthy team dynamics, increase collaboration, and build trust internally and externally.

In a nutshell, accountability is a key component of successful teams and businesses.

Technology Adoption in Field Service

For many field service providers, increasing technician accountability may not be the leading factor for adopting a new technology platform. The most common goals and reasons we’ve heard from service providers looking to incorporate a modern technology solution into their day-to-day service often include:

● Streamlining and improving business operations

● Improving transparency and communication with customers

● Improving technician training and troubleshooting

● Increasing customer satisfaction and trust

● Achieving market differentiation

By enabling process standardization through streamlined on-the-job checklists, modern technology solutions like XOi’s Vision app can help commercial and residential service providers achieve the goals listed above. 

The Vision app allows techs to easily and safely capture critical job site information, launch on-the-job remote support, access relevant equipment documentation, and provide customers and managers photo and video documentation of all recommended and completed work.

The result – improved and guaranteed quality of service and complete transparency into each step a technician completes while on site.

Why is improving technician accountability important?

Studies show that 82% of employees feel their leadership team had “limited to no” ability to hold employees accountable. That same study found that 91% of respondents believed “improving the ability to hold others accountable in an effective way” was one of their business’s top leadership development needs.

In addition, research has found that improved accountability not only bolsters individual employee engagement but also positively impacts your overall bottom line. According to Gallup, highly engaged workforces significantly outperform competitors, resulting in 21% higher profitability.

Instilling a sense of accountability into your business’s culture gives employees a sense of autonomy and ownership over their work. For field service providers, it’s important for technicians to feel trusted by their employers. A system of accountability, transparency, and documentation will also help give you and your customers peace of mind that their work meets certain quality standards.

 

Cydney Myers is the Marketing Manager for XOi Technologies.

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area.

Did You Find Everything You Wanted?

Within a four-mile radius of our house, there are 17 grocery stores. Of those, I frequent three. Not because I want to, and not because I like shopping, but because none of them carry everything I want. The three I go to most are Sprouts, Tom Thumb, and Trader Joe’s. All of them have the plusses and minuses, each has their idiosyncrasies, but there’s one thing all have in common: when I check out, the checker always asks, “did you find everything you wanted?” or some variation of that question.

When I was young, I don’t remember anyone asking me, “did you find everything you wanted?” I think they were more concerned with getting me the hell out of there before I broke anything. But at some point, some retail consultant must have figured out that to maximize the dollar purchases for each visit, you need to ask people, “did you find everything you wanted?” It’s a good way to increase sales, keep in touch with the customer, and take care of the customer. Every checker in every one of the 17 grocery stores in my area knows to ask every customer that question.

Have you ever had the experience in a long line at the grocery store where the person in front of you with a million groceries in her cart suddenly pauses and says to the checker, “oh, I forgot peanut butter. I’ll be right back.”? The 30 people in line behind her all roll their eyes as she meanders off to find the peanut butter and maybe pick up a few other items. You don’t want to be THAT person, right?

So I had this really interesting experience at Trader Joe’s. I’m in line, checking out, busy time, several people in line behind me, and the checker asks the question, “Did you find everything you wanted?” I said I did, and then, with a painful flash of memory, realized that I hadn’t. “Argh,” I slapped my forehead, “I forgot flour – my wife asked me to get flour.” I looked at the line behind me – I don’t want to be THAT person – “But, I can get it next time,” I told her.   

“It’s no problem,” the checker said, “we’ll get it fast.” She rang a little bell. Instantly a young man appeared. “John,” the checker said, “this gentleman needs flour.”

“What kind of flour, and what size,” John asked me. I told him, and he jogged off. (Not exaggerating here – he jogged!)

He returned with the flour even before the checker finished ringing up the rest of my groceries. No rolling of the eyes behind me, Trader Joe’s got at extra seven bucks, and I made my wife happy (priceless).

An Interesting Fact

One of the key performance indicators (KPI’s) of grocery stores is sales per square foot. Guess what, in that measure, Trader Joe’s is number one. In fact, they’re number 1 every year. Number two is so far behind that Trader Joe’s should win the number one place, the number two place, and the number three place.   

A Funny Story

Again, I’m at the grocery store. This time it’s Tom Thumb. I cannot find graham cracker crumbs. I’m going to make a Key Lime Pie for my mother-in-law, who loves my Key Lime Pie, and I need graham cracker crumbs for the crust. I can’t find them, and there’s no employee to ask. I give up, grab a box of graham crackers, gonna pound the crackers, and make my own damn crumbs. While I’m in the checkout line, it occurs to me: the checkout clerk is going to ask THE QUESTION, and I’ll find out where the graham cracker crumbs are. Furthermore, there is no one in line behind me, so I don’t have to worry about being THAT guy. Sure enough, the cashier asks, “Did you find everything you wanted?” I beam. “I did not,” I reply, “I couldn’t find graham cracker crumbs.” 

The clerk looks thoughtful and then says, “Yeah, I don’t know if we carry that.” I wait expectantly. I arch my eyebrows and cock my head, waiting for some kind of resolution. Waiting for the follow up that never happens. Nothing. Nada. Zero. He continues ringing up my groceries, reads me the total. I pay and leave…

The Interesting Fact Corollary

Tom Thumb does not lead the grocery industry in sales per square foot.

The Lessons 

There are so many lessons from this story. Here are two that I got:

  1. Incremental sales are important. There are many reasons why Trader Joe’s leads the industry in sales per square foot, but one of them is incremental sales. They make it easy for their customers to buy more. If you want incremental sales, then make it easy for your customers to buy more.
  2. Training and Processes. Training is important. Processes are important. Training to processes is REALLY important. Tom Thumb has training. The cashier knew to ask the question. He didn’t know what to do if the answer was “no” and probably had no supporting process if the customer answers “no”. Trader Joe’s has training. They have the processes. They train to those processes. If you answer the question “no”, the cashier knows to ring the bell. If stock runner hears the bell, he knows to drop everything and get to the customer, and get his product quickly, so the customer doesn’t feel awkward, and the people in line don’t roll their eyes. Result: increased sales, happy customers, and industry-leading KPI’s.
How About You?

What’s your takeaway from the story? What did you learn? What will you do differently? I’d like to know. Email me and let me know… David.Heimer@ServiceNation.com

 

Service Roundtable is dedicated to growing your bottom line and helping your business maximize its full potential. These groups of contractors work together to assist you with marketing, sales, business, and so much more. Twice a month, seminars around the United States and Canada are held to network and further assist your business. Visit Service Roundtable.com to see if there are Success Days in your area!

Risk-Taking

We have all heard the expression, “don’t try, just do.” So, “try” many times has a negative connotation. 

Especially when knowing that doing, and not just trying, will have a positive outcome. For example: “I’m going to try to eat healthier” or “I’m going to try and exercise more.” In both cases, doing it will have great health benefits, so “don’t try, just do.”

I would suggest that when it comes to taking risks, “try” can have a more positive connotation because the outcome may result in success or failure, and that is not as predictable. So when taking risks, “you can do it if you try.”

Taking risks doesn’t mean that you will succeed every time. The risk may lead to success that you can celebrate or failure that you can learn from. Either way, it is better to have tried and failed rather than having never tried at all.

Risk-taking involves thinking outside the box and may stretch you beyond your comfort zone. It may involve hiring that person from outside the industry, looking at acquisitions to expand, or adding plumbing to your HVAC company. All these risks need to be calculated and planned for, and not just treated as “risky behavior.” If planned for, risk-taking can become very rewarding. 

Once again, risk-taking is not as predictable as the results achieved from eating healthier or exercising regularly, so it may make you uncomfortable, which may cause you not to try. The uncertainty may make you uneasy, yet the rewards can be great. The fear of failure will keep you from succeeding and achieving your dreams and goals.

 

“Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

 

You see, risk-taking in and of itself is not about achieving a positive outcome from every chance; rather it’s a process of learning and adjusting until you succeed. The key to success is learning from your failures and moving past them.

 

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison

 

Failure should not be viewed as a negative, but as a learning experience that leads to wisdom. It makes one stronger and persistent. Your desire for success in anything that you do should always trump your fear of failure.

Yes, taking risks does involve failure. If it didn’t, and you were successful every time that you tried something, then it wouldn’t be a risk at all. It’s OK that you don’t succeed every time because you learn from every failure, which makes you a better person by improving your ability to recover faster the next time a difficult situation comes your way.

The worse thing that can happen is that you stop taking risks due to experiencing failure. When this happens, we become stagnant, and growth becomes difficult. When learning from failure and moving on, one becomes humbly confident. That may sound contradictory, yet failure teaches us to be humble, and learning from it will build confidence to overcome the fear of the next risk.

Fortunately, according to many psychologists, confidence is a learnable skill. 

In an article written by Marelisa Fabrega, “Daring to Live Fully,” she describes “a mantra that will change your life”:

 

      “Everything is Learnable.”

 

She proposes a question:

“Look at the following phrases:

  • I wish I were…
  • I wish I had…
  • I wish I knew how to…

How would you conclude each of these phrases? There are hundreds of ways to do so, and nearly 100% of them are learnable.” 

Then she cites 20 examples of how skills can be learned, and confidence is one of them.

Marelisa concludes with, “If you want to learn something, go learn it. You don’t need anyone’s permission (except for your own). 

Live your best life by understanding that everything is learnable. Make it your new mantra!”

So, the takeaway here is that you can learn to have confidence when taking risks. You can learn to overcome your fears. And you can learn to be humbly confident.

No matter what the outcome is, failure or success, we grow and learn from it either way. Learning these skills will help you take more risks, which in turn will increase your chances of success in achieving your personal and business goals.

 

Steve Mores is the Vice President of Training and Sales at Dynamic Air Quality Solutions

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