This is the second in an exclusive series of business growth articles from ‘Start to Grow’ – a start-up business growth book authored by Philip Bain; co-founder of ShredBank and Visiting Professor of the Ulster University Business School
Growing your business and being successful starts with a change of mind-set. During the middle of the recession, I got chatting to the owner of a bathroom showroom who was closing down. “Not one person has come through my door in two months!,” he moaned.
The housing market had collapsed taking the demand for new bathrooms with it. He had no alternative but to close. Given my own family background, I empathised and left the premises quite demotivated. It almost seemed as if he was the spokesperson for not just the bathroom industry, but the economy as a whole. And the picture he painted was bleak.
A couple of weeks later, I had to urgently find a bathroom, (to buy one), lest there be any confusion! I had agreed to sell my home to a buyer who wanted to complete the sale within a few weeks. So I needed to move into my new home, sooner than expected.
The timescales were tight and I needed to purchase a bathroom immediately.
Late one evening, while driving home, I noticed a bathroom showroom that was still open. As I walked into the showroom, I was immediately greeted by one of the friendliest guys you could meet. My first comment to him was, “I need a bathroom installed in four weeks!” His response surprised me, as he let me know that there would be no chance I could get a bathroom for at least six weeks, “I am absolutely flat out mate,” he told me.
Given my experience the week earlier, I thought that was a strange comment to make. “So has there been a property boom in the last week that I don’t know about?” I said trying to be funny. “No mate, I haven’t known a recession, I have installers out every day; we do design, retail, and installation and we are the best in the business. I have a full order book and we have never been busier”, he said with confidence. He then pointed me to a wall that was full of ‘thank you’ notes from all his happy customers.
Let’s just pause for a moment here – Have you ever sent a thank you note to a bathroom retailer? Good, neither have I. This was something extraordinary and to prove it wasn’t sales talk, I looked down and saw that his table was full of delivery dockets from all his customers. He opened the showroom for me and my wife later that night, measured up our house and pulled out all the stops to get us sorted out on time. Wow! What a difference between these two independent bathroom retailers.
One guy was basically saying no one was interested and the market was finished, and the other guy was confidently growing his business and making it a success. Even under pressure, he made sure he did enough to at least get us moved in. We have recommended him to many friends who have purchased from the same guy, delighted also with their experience. The other business has since closed down.
So, what is the difference? Why was one bathroom retailer growing, and the other one closing down? Both are in the same industry, in the same economy, and only one mile apart? Both guys are of similar age, selling the same type of product. Why was one successful and the other unsuccessful? The answer is simple, it was their mind-set.
One was proactive and the other was reactive. One was waiting for the tide to turn, for people to come into his premises and for it to go back to the way it used to be. The other guy was proactive; he was going out there and getting the business. To the successful guy, he had a mind-set that believed success was possible and there were still opportunities despite the recession. There were still people out there like me who needed bathrooms and whoever they were, he was going to be the one to supply them. It was his proactive and optimistic nature that didn’t even want to entertain discussions of a recession. He was in the business of selling bathrooms and that was what he was going to continue to do whatever was going on in the world.
The moral of the story? No matter what is going on in the world, have a mind-set for growth, a mind-set for success and good things will happen.
The third in the series will be published on Thursday May 19.
All proceeds from the sale of Start to Grow are for The Princes’ Trust and the book can be ordered from here