Don't be the Grinch in Your Shop
Feeling grumpy? Don’t bring it to work with you this season
It’s December and the holidays are in full swing. I know for some of you this isn’t a joyous time of year in your business. Sales usually slump as customers are choosing between home repairs and buying presents for loved ones. More often than not, residential contractors lose that battle.
So sales are down, and employees want more time off, and in the “season of giving”, it seems everyone is looking for money when we have little or none to give. I don’t blame you. It’s hard to not turn a shade of Grinchy green on everyone.
The pressure and anxiety you feel most likely comes every year, and the trick is to not pass those feelings on to the rest of your team. One of the best tips for dealing with Grinch feelings is to reach out to your support system away from the business: Family, friends, church groups, business networks, sports teams, even your loyal dog Max. Seek out anywhere you can go for counsel and the opportunity to vent, even the top of Mount Crumpit.
Whatever you do, resist the urge to complain and vent at the shop. Why? The problem with verbalizing our frustrations in front of our team is we never fully calculate the ramifications of a throw-away comment.
Example:An employee comes to you with the idea of throwing a holiday party.
Your response is something just shy of having a heart two sizes too small: “We barely have enough money to cover payroll, so my answer to a holiday party is NO!” There. Decision made. You were just being honest, right? You weren’t commenting about the overall health of the company, so why is the rest of your team in widespread panic?
The next thing you know everyone is working on their resumes rather that doing what you need done. How will you survive this season now?
All right, this is an extreme example, but we need to be careful about what we say around those who work for you. The culture and morale in your shop reflects you. Don’t transmit this seasonal anxiety throughout your shop.
I coach many contractors who wear every emotion on their sleeves, and their businesses reflect it. When business is good, the owner and managers are a pleasure to be around, but when business is slow, bad attitudes are abundant. And, we all know bad attitudes completely undermine the success of your company.
During the slow times, like the holidays, is when we need our people to be at the top of their game. Our customers who do call us are already upset about what’s needed in their homes. Add to that the stress of presents, budgets, schedules, in-laws, you name it; and money and time spent on anything else is more of a problem than during any other time of the year. If the voice answering your phone is also in a terrible mood calls with customers escalate quickly.
This may be starting to sound like a lecture, but please don’t take it that way. It’s a timely reminder that just donning a Santa costume will not hide our green fur. We need to do everything possible to make sure our people, and by transference our customers, are as happy as Little Cindy Lou Who. Don’t steal their stockings, fill them with gratitude and joy.
If the funds truly aren’t there for a holiday party, consider this budget friendly alternative (which shockingly can be used to build good cheer ANY time of year). Why not host a company potluck, where everyone on your team brings a dish to share, and if you’re able, the company can pick up one main item?
Consider as well non-party type activities to keep spirits and morale high. If your company has an outbound calling program, you already know how difficult it is for people to make those calls successfully. They feel like telemarketers and say things like “I’m not very good at sales.” The reality is outbound calls aren’t fun and generate rejection and harsh conversations. So take that tough task and turn it around.
Try a holiday outbound campaign where your goal isn’t to book calls, but simply wish your customers Happy Holidays and New Year? Your team will have a much better attitude while making the calls. Customers will appreciate the holiday good will. The results may surprise you. Customers that don’t book you directly from this campaign will likely remember the call when they do need your services.
This is all very easy for me to say, sitting safely behind my keyboard with none of the daily pressure or responsibility you face. So I’m not asking for a miracle, just try to keep the attitude of your team at the top of your mind this season, and maybe you, can even carve the roast beast.