The Depot Dispatch
by Ed Kalaher
January 25th, 2018

Leads, Labor and Love

The challenges of being an entrepreneur are nearly as numerous as all of the super-compelling reasons we all considered just before opening our own businesses.

While our eyes may light up when talking about controlling our own destiny, being business owner, creating value and wealth for our family, and enjoying the freedom of self-direction, they also get quite dim when considering all of the challenges that we face.

Home improvement business owners face a myriad of challenges, requiring us to balance strategy with tactics, streets smarts with book smarts, and passion with pragmatism. We are often alone in our burdens and responsibilities (the risk), a situation only tempered by the fact that we are also alone in the profits (the reward).

When I began to think about some of the biggest challenges we all face … a very interesting thing occurred to me. A beautiful thing, really.

What occurred to me is that the things that may cause us a sleepless night (or two) are the very same things that present us with an unlimited opportunity for growth and to separate ourselves from the competition.

Consider leads. We all know that leads are the lifeblood of our businesses. It is often said that we’re not in the home improvement business, but in the leads business. Without them, we die. With them, we have the mere opportunity to live. That’s quite a challenge.

But what if I told you that if we change our mind-set from merely pursuing leads, to treasuring and cultivating each and every lead we have, that our businesses will transform overnight? If our mind-set is to treat each opportunity as a seed…to water it, to foster it, to see it grow and produce new opportunities…then our businesses will blossom (pun fully intended).

Consider labor. Most of us are fully and painfully aware of the lack of quality craftsmen and laborers available to fulfill our projects. We see studies and statistics that tell us there is no end to the shortage in sight, as all of the trades are suffering from a cultural narrative of student loans over building homes.

But what if I told you that if we change our mind-set from merely “finding installers” to “finding team members who compliment the client-centered culture we’re building”…our businesses will transform overnight? If our mind-set is to treat our installers as absolutely integral parts of the customer experience, if we solicit their feedback and input, and if we treat them and compensate them as valued parts of our “family”… then the foundations of our businesses will be unshakeable.

Consider love. Or perhaps more clearly put, consider company reputation. We’re all aware of the stigma that we carry with us into every home. And most of us can’t argue with it, considering the vast number of knuckleheads who pick up a hammer, get a business card and call themselves a home improvement company. We are all faced with the challenge of overcoming skepticism and doubt (and even hostility) before we even have opportunity to present ourselves.

But what if I told you that if we change our mind-set from merely “doing our best” to overcome the contractor stereotype to utilizing each and every part of the job lifecycle to make sure that we’re creating a best-in-class, sterling reputation…then our businesses will transform overnight? If our mind-set is to filter every part of our process through the lens our most scrutinous customer, and to settle for nothing less than having a reputation for quality, value, integrity and humility…then our reputation will precede us. And that legacy, is the most valuable asset we can build.

There is magic that lies in the realization that our successes hinge on mind-set. There is unlimited power to transform and grow our businesses, in the realization that we can turn the challenges that all home improvement companies face, into incredible opportunities to set our businesses apart. And that realization is quite humbling, when we then realize that all that’s necessary, is a shift in our mind-set.

At least from my point of view.

Ed Kalaher is the president and CEO of Window Depot USA in Canfield, Ohio.

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2 comments
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  1. ED,
    Excellent perspective. Agree 100%. The challenge we all have is changing what I call that traditional thought process (How everyone usually thinks) into the mindset you are describing. Not easy, but worth the effort to develop. Thanks for sharing.

  2. If the challenges in front of us were easy, then everyone would do it. I agree with your prospective which is why I’m part of our awesome group!!!

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