Staying Out of Trouble

Chapter 8

Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.  Vince Lombardi

Chapter 8

Staying Out of Trouble

Someone once said that we don’t communicate well enough. There may be many reasons for that: the wrong choice of words, being unclear about what we really mean, or because we are trying to imply something we hope the person gets, but we really don’t want to come right out and say it.

By rephrasing the words back to the speaker, we can verify that what we are hearing is what the speaker meant.  This can be done with your spouse, children, coworkers or even your boss.

Rephrasing is to say back to the person, in your own words, what they said. “What I hear you saying is…..”

Example:

“What’s for dinner?”

“We were going to have chicken, but I forgot to thaw it out, and I have been so busy today I hadn’t even thought about it.”

“So are you wanting to go out for supper?”

“Would you mind?”

Here is another example:  The salesman writes up a repair order on two of his products sitting in a wholesaler’s warehouse. His company sends the repair order to an independent repair contractor. The contractor sees that one unit is a warranty repair and one has been damaged, probably by the wholesaler’s warehousemen. The repairman calls the manufacturer, and the manufacturer agrees to pay for the one unit with the defect but refuses to pay for the other damaged one.

During the repair the salesman shows up and says to the repairman.

“You are new at this aren’t you? I would hate to lose an account like this as I only have two accounts. Don’t let little “technicalities” cause us to lose this account. This time I will pay for the non-warranty repair.”

Rephrasing: “So what I hear you saying is that no matter what is wrong with the units, you want me to write up the invoice to the manufacturer to show that these are all warranty repairs. Is that right?”

If he says, “yes,” now you know he wants you to lie. You can:

  1. Just end the conversation without confirming that you will do that and next time it happens, mention to the manufacturer what you have been instructed to do by their salesman.
  2. Let him know that you will only bill warranty repairs to the manufacturer, and if he wants to pay for all the others, you will call him each time to confirm his continued willingness to pay.

Rule #18 – Practice Rephrasing Anything Questionable or Unclear.

Rephrasing can clear up many situations. It can help straighten out fuzzy thinking, help use the right words, make things clearer and at times keep you out of trouble.

Communicating well is part of The Prosperous Life.

Rule #19 – Never Look in the Windows.

I learned this from a direct sales company 45 years ago and have followed it ever since.  If you look in the windows of the house you are knocking on, first of all to passersby or even the homeowner, you appear to be a rube (an uneducated, unsophisticated country boy). This is just rude.

What if you arrived a little earlier that the lady had anticipated, and you see her racing half-dressed to the other end of the house and she sees you?  No matter what you do, that situation is a mess. And remember people talk.

I first ring the doorbell then turn away slightly from the door and step back a bit if that is possible.  On the second ring if the door is not answered, I also add a knock.  Sometimes doorbells don’t work.  Then we try a third time before I would call them on the phone.  Sometimes they are running the vacuum, etc. and did not hear you.

If you stand back a ways, you don’t seem to be so much in their space when they open the door.

Think about it!

Proverbs15:8….  The prayers of the upright are his delight (The New KJV)

Comfortable and Complacent!

Chapter 7

Don’t wish it was easier wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge wish for more wisdom.    Jim Rohn

 Chapter 7

Comfortable and Complacent!

Rule #17 – Don’t Become Comfortable and Complacent!

I meet many people every day, and many times I ask them what they do for work and/or how they got into the business they are in. Sometimes the stories are very interesting. I asked a young builder the other day how he came to build houses.

He said he was working as a foreman for another builder making about $50,000 per year. He told me that it is very easy to become complacent with that kind of income. He said you can pay your bills and live fairly comfortably.

Together he and his wife had read many financial books and had some understanding of how money worked. He said he did not want to become complacent at that level of income, so after he learned what he felt he needed to know about building houses, after about a year with this job, he quit.

He found a money man that agreed to build seven houses and split the profits 50/50 with him, and that venture was successful. A year later they parted company, and he now had enough to go the bank. They loaned him the money to start a couple of houses, and he was in the building business.

Many times we become complacent with our income because we are comfortable there.

  • We know what it takes to earn that amount.
  • We know the people.
  • We know the routines.
  • We know that we can pay our bills at that level.
  • Our friends all make about the same.
  • We are part of the group.

If we strive to move up a level or two, that would put us in unfamiliar territory. Weird as it sounds, most people would be uncomfortable if their income doubled or tripled.

  • Their lifestyle might change.
  • Their friends might change.
  • What they talk about might change.
  • And most are afraid of the unknown.

You see many people have bought into the idea that to really be successful you have to get a college education and go to work for some major company. That can be very comfortable – someone or a company taking care of you, and then complacency can easily set in. You could fight complacency, and climb out of your comfort zone.

Starting your own side business may be uncomfortable and may be a little different than your friends, but it may change your life in ways you never imagined.

For example: I have met people that buy and sell golf courses or others that buy companies from the IRS that were taken because of non-payment of taxes. They got the companies profitable and then sold them. I have also talked to people that buy mobile home parks after the park had been through bankruptcy two or three times. Then they made a deal with a company that repossessed mobile homes to put them in their park and split the rent.

Some 150 years ago most of the people in this country were self-­employed as we were an agricultural economy. But as the industrial age set in, people moved from the farms into the cities. Then they acquired some debt and had to stay in those jobs in order to pay “the man.” But it was comfortable.  A paycheck each week. Eventually complacency can set in.

This reminds one of the song Sixteen Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford. One of the lines reads: “Saint Peter don’t you call ‘cause I can’t go, I owe my soul to the company store.”

This lack of funds and debt keeps us showing up on the job to get the money to pay the debt. We have been trained to be good workers for industry and good consumers for the global economy. Someone sold us on the wrong plan.

A billboard I see every day says: “A job for every Oklahoman, a workforce for every company.” Learn to think outside the box.

Learn to embrace the uncomfortable and beware of complacency. God wants us to be God-sufficient. For God to be our sufficiency, a college education is not required.  God’s hand is with us in everything we do as we are His children. So break out of your comfort zone, and kiss complacency goodbye. God has laid out the fundamental principles of prosperity in His Word. These fundamental principles are also laid out in our new book Poverty vs Wealth. Try it. It could be your key to The Prosperous Life.

Proverbs 24:10 If you faint in the day of adversity your strength is small. 

(English Standard Version)

Have Some Respect

Chapter 6

Work hard at your job, and you can make a living.

Work hard on yourself, and you can make a fortune. Jim Rohn

 

Chapter 6

Have Some Respect

Rule #16 – Have Some Respect for Yourself

It would seem that there are many things to learn when you are learning about The Prosperous Life.

First, you would want to get born from above. No matter how much money you make or how high you climb in the corporate world or politics, if all you have to look forward to is 70 years and a hole in the ground; that is not much of a prosperous life.

If you have confessed Jesus Christ as your Lord and if you believe that God raised him from the dead, then you truly already have a prosperous eternal life to look forward to.

While we are awaiting the return of our lord, there are many aspects to The Prosperous Life to learn about. This one aspect starts with a story.

I walked into a warehouse the other day that I am in occasionally and observed the people walking around and through. There were people from the office, dressed very nicely, passing through checking on orders, men who apparently had decided that the warehouse was their life’s work, and another man that was the warehouse manager.

The warehouse manager was dressed nicely as well, clean shaven, nice work pants, shirt tucked in and smiling as he hurried about. The other people who probably were going to be warehousemen for the rest of their lives dressed less thoughtfully. Their pants needed washing. Their shirts were not tucked in. Some needed to shave.

It was easy to tell which ones were heading up. The next stop would be counter sales and then outside sales which would all pay better than working in the warehouse.

A few years ago, I was with a man that was doing bathtub repairs for a living. He got a speck of paint on his jeans and it irritated him. He said, “Today was the last day for these jeans as they are threadbare, and I got paint on them. Darn!” He took pride in keeping his clothes clean from paint until they were worn out. It was like a self-imposed challenge to keep his clothes spotless.

On the other hand, I have seen many painters that are covered in paint wearing clothes that look like they have not been washed in a month. They wear those paint covered clothes like a badge of honor. “I am a painter!!” constantly wiping their paint covered hands on their pants.

How much work would it be to keep a towel on your belt to wipe your hands on and keep your clothes clean?

I have a paint store that I have bought supplies from for years. I have seen the owner many times in the back mixing paint with never a spot on his clothes. His wife buys his shirts from garage sales cheap, and when he gets paint on one, it goes in the trash. He is always neat. He cares about his appearance, and he will probably take care to get your order right.

In the work I do, I am constantly knocking on people’s doors during the daytime. Many times the husband is at work and when that young woman with two young ones in tow looks out the peep hole, what do you think she would be more comfortable seeing? Someone dressed neatly, and clean shaven or someone with grease and paint on their pants, holes in their shirt, and a three day old beard on their face?

A three day beard on Friday night may be cool, but it is not cool when knocking on a young woman’s door, whose husband is gone, on Monday morning. It looks scraggily!

This is not just my thinking.  Some of the companies that I work for call the people after we have fixed the issue in their customer’s home. They ask the client:

  • Were they on time?
  • Were they dressed nicely?
  • Were they clean shaven?
  • Were you comfortable with them in your home?”

The reason is because I may be the only person associated with that company that the client has ever seen, and the company wants to be represented well.

How you dress says a lot about you. If you don’t pay much attention to how you dress, maybe you are not going to:

  • Pay much attention to your job,
  • Or to your speech,
  • Or to the important details of your companies clients,
  • Or their orders.

Sometimes people will try you out on a job or two to see what you are like —  how do you dress, do you show up on time, are you easy to work with, etc.  If they like what they see, you could step into a mega account.  You just never know where the next job will lead.  This is why establishing good work ethics, principles and habits will pay off in the long run.

One painting company I was on a forum with on the internet said this: “When our guys come to work, they are expected to wear clean clothes and if they have not shaved, I tell them that there are razors and shaving cream in the restroom. They either shave or they go home.”

I have read about painters that run large shops, and sometimes they include paperhanging as part of their services.  One paint company owner said he had two good paperhangers.  One was a young guy that did absolutely superb work and an old man whose work was good but certainly not the quality of the younger man.  Now the young man was a sloppy dresser, kind of slovenly in appearance.  The older man dressed in traditional painter/paperhanger clothes — slacks, dress shoes, white shirt and tie.  When the painter came to work dressed like this, they would put on some overalls AFTER they had met the people of the home for the day and the owners had gone to work.  When the clients would call back to the shop to request more paper to be hung guess which paperhanger had the most requests?  The old man!! I have heard of this happening in several cases.  Sloppy personal habits make people uneasy.  The workers seem less trustworthy.  Sloppy appearance and work habits are irritating to some people and others are not quite sure they want to leave the person home alone or with their children.

How you dress, personal hygiene, etc. says a lot about how you think about your job and yourself and your ability. This may not be true for every person, but it is what goes through the minds of the people that have the ability to promote you or hire you.

You could learn to observe how the people above you in the company dress and copy their style. (Unless they are slobs!) You will move up faster. (It should go without saying, but sometimes needs to be said anyway, take a bath and use some deodorant!)

Some people seem to think that once they are hired for a job, it is theirs for life and how they conduct themselves and how they dress is irrelevant. Your boss may never tell you what he thinks about how you take care of yourself, but, if you don’t pay attention to your outward appearance, don’t be surprised if you are passed up for promotions. Have some respect for yourself.

Everywhere we go we represent our Father and the company that sent us. This is simply another piece of The Prosperous Life.

Proverbs 22:1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches….  

(The Living Bible)

Keep Your Integrity!

Chapter 5

There are three things that are important to every man in this locker room. His God, his family and the Green Bay Packers.  In that order.  Vince Lombardi

Keep Your Integrity!

When I first got into this business, my focus was on solving the problems of the people that called. I would say, “No problem,” and get it fixed ASAP.

But as time went on and I became very busy, I began to try to get them to wait on me by getting them to sympathize with my problems in getting there in a timely fashion.  I talked about too many of the things going on in my life that were negative.

As I was talking one day, I could tell by the man’s face that he really did not want to hear all that.  As I thought about what I was doing, I realized that my focus had dramatically changed from being a problem solver to being a problem teller.

People are looking for problem solvers.  They’re not concerned with your problems. They just want their problems fixed. If you have too many problems, they will find somebody who doesn’t have so many.

So that’s how Rule #11 came about.

Rule #11 – Don’t tell people about your problems!

Your business will do better!

Rule #12 – Never work for just one company or client.

My sons were in Boy Scouts a number of years ago, and the Scout Master at the time was an attorney.  He had worked for the same company for about 20 years and had no private practice.  He had a nice home and a son in college, but when the oil company made some cuts, he was out of a job.  Since he had never developed a private practice, he was in bad shape.  He finally went to work for another attorney in the troop that had his own law firm.

It is never good as a contractor to only work for one company or client.  They can really put your feet to the fire at times to get lower prices – their own houses done cheaply or their jobs done for free.

I worked for an acquaintance one time that had just had a new home built by a large builder.  She told me that all the contractors on her home told her that they had just built their foreman a new home with free labor.  They either did his home for free or found another job.  What could they do?  He was their only client.

I have been offered large jobs in the past that may take a year or so.  First, they want it done at a cheaper price because of the volume of the work and the job security it offers.  Then they want to be your only client.  I have always turned those deals down.  What happens at the end of the work?  I would have no business left to go back to.  All my clients will have found other contractors, and I will have to start from scratch building a business.

They may decide in six months they want the price even cheaper.  They have you over a barrel.  They are your only source of income.

What if they decide in six months that Bob can do it even cheaper?  They will drop you in a heartbeat.

Trading your freedom of running your own business for the security of work every day is not worth the risk.

Rule #13 – Don’t stir the pot.

This can cover many different areas.

I used to tell builders things that I saw wrong with their houses that might cause them trouble down the road.  I found they usually took that as criticism.  Now I will tell them if the house is on fire, but that is about it.

I used to try to help people get their jobs done under the warranty they had.  That required many phone calls to set it up. I found that the some of the people I had to contact in order to accomplish this did not appreciate it.  As we could not turn in the warranty job ourselves, it required several calls to find out if the responsible entity had turned the job in for the people.  I quit stirring the warranty pot also.

Not stirring the pot is a good principle to live by in your work and in everyday life. The more you ponder it and watch, the better you will understand.

Rule #14 – Keep how much you make to yourself.

This is a great rule.  Each business has its own list of expenses and financial duties and benefits that most outside that business will not understand.

Years ago my mother saw a milk check (proceeds from a dairy farm for the milk they sold that week) that came into my aunt’s books.  Mother said, “Boy, I would like to have that for a week.”  My aunt said, “It looks like a lot, but if you saw the bills I have to pay, it would not seem like very much.”

People will not understand how your business is set up and perhaps what all is involved in the price you set. So it is best to just keep what you make to yourself.

Rule #15 – Keep Your Integrity.

Integrity is one of the most valuable assets you can have as a business person.  Integrity says you can be trusted:  trusted to tell the truth in situations – trusted to do what is right.

But integrity is often sacrificed on the altar of money.

I have a book that I look at often that has things I pray about in it.  At the top of the page is a list of priorities for life that I learned from Jim Rohn (a self-development speaker).  It is a very good way of ordering the priorities of your life.

  1. God
  2. Health
  3. Family
  4. Integrity
  5. Career

Many people put their career in the number one position.  That would have to do with the making of money.  If you do this, you will sacrifice your relationship with God, your health, your relationship with your family and your integrity for the sake of your career or in other words, money.

God should always come first.  Then should come the taking care of your health.  Without health you are no good to your family or your career.

Family should come next and always before your career.  Then comes your integrity.  If you sacrifice your integrity for the sake of your career, you may lose your career also.

You may be tempted to lie to benefit a builder or plumber, etc. But once they know you lie, can they ever really rely on your telling the truth in any other situation?  If they really need an honest ­assessment, they will have to ask someone else.  Because they know you cannot be trusted.

I have lost accounts and friends because I would not change the facts to benefit them.  But if that is what they required for them to be my friend or for me to keep their business, is that what I want to build my life on?  My answer is always the same. NO. Keep your integrity. It is worth far more than money or position or more jobs.

I was analyzing a job for a hotel one time and told them what they should do.  One partner said to the other, “They told me you may not like what he tells you, but he will tell you the truth.” That is the reputation that you want.

In the long haul, having great integrity and being a person that can be trusted will pay great dividends. Always Keep Your Integrity.

Proverbs 17:24 Wisdom is the main pursuit of sensible men…..  (The Living Bible)

Never Back Up On A Bid!

Chapter 3

 

Never Back Up On A Bid!

Rule #4 – Never Back Up On a Bid!

When a young person first starts into business for themselves, their tendency is to underbid the jobs.  This may be because of several reasons:

  • They may feel somewhat inadequate or insecure.
  • They may be afraid they will not get the job if they bid/price it higher.
  • They may feel inferior to others that have been in that market for years.

Most people that continue this line of thinking either go out of business or go to work for someone that knows how to bid.

The problem with pricing below the market to secure some work is that the customers you will get are the ones that are concerned only with price.  Later on when you want to raise your prices, you will lose these customers to some other low bidder and have to replace them.

A friend of mine and I did some landscaping on our days off many years ago.  One thing he shared that his grandfather taught him was to price out the entire job at the market price then add 10%.  So if the job was $3,000, it came out to $3,300.  I have practiced this with great success for many years since then, and it also has the benefit of helping to keep your prices up and pushing higher. This also helps to keep you from under bidding a job.

Many times you will have unexpected expenses or time in a job, and now you have already priced that in.  Without the extra 10%, you will feel gypped when the unexpected arises.  This technique just helps cover your a**.  You walk away after completion feeling satisfied.

Pity the man that, when confronted by the buyer about the price, backed up on the bid to $2500.00 or lower to get the job and then complications arise.  Been there, done that, and we don’t do that anymore.  You walk away feeling slightly sick and disgruntled. Learn to walk away if they want a lower price.  Many times they will call you back later.  They were just testing your commitment to the price.

The only time I remember coming down on a bid was when the bid was $750.00.  The client said that was too much and asked if I would do it for $650.00?   God must have showed me it was OK because I never did this again.  But this time I told him I could do $725.00, but that was it.  He, his wife and I stood there for a second, then his wife burst into laughter! She said to her husband, “You finally found someone that likes to haggle as much as you do!”  He paused for a second and then laughed and said, “OK!”  It was a great job.

All other times, though, I never back up on a bid.  People may try to shame you, intimidate you, or get angry with you to get you to lower the price.  But resist.  If you give in, especially out of fear of losing the job, and do the job for a lower price, they will be on your case most times all the way through the job. This is not just my experience. I have talked to others that have experienced the exact same thing. Why?  Because they see that you have no respect for yourself, and then they don’t respect you either.  But they will take the lower price.

I bid a job once, and the man said, “When contractors see a Nichols Hills address, they get dollars signs in their eyes.  The last guy did it for half this much.” I said, “Get him to do it.” In the end I got the job after I told him to call the store and get some more bids.  Our bid was right in line.  His wife later told me that they did not like the quality of the previous workman.  So they were trying to get a better contractor for the same price as the one that did the shoddy work.  They will lie and be deceitful as well to get you to lower your price.  I got the job at the original bid price and had no trouble with the job.  Stick up for yourself.  People can smell confidence, and it sells.

People can also smell insecurity or fear of loss like a dog smells fear.  They don’t consciously think about it, but they know and they act on your lack of confidence and belief in yourself.

Backing up on a bid does several things:

First, it damages your self-image, your self-confidence, and your sense of worthiness.

You have to protect your sense of self-worth, or you will allow people to walk on you all your life.  You have to protect your self-image and your self-confidence.  This is very important.  Remember, there is a great difference between arrogance and confidence.  We are quietly confident but not arrogant.

Second, the customer/client realizes that you are not confident in yourself, your business, or your ability.

They may feel that you were willing to accept a lower price because you needed the work. If you need the work, then how good are you really? The client/customer will think to themselves, “I better keep an eye on this one if they do the job because they are probably not very good if they need the work that bad.”

Once you accept the idea of backing up on a bid/price, you will do it again and again. Then you will begin to bid your jobs or products lower still. This is where the practice of upping the bid by 10% is a good habit.

They may constantly push you to do more than what was contracted for.  When they pushed on the price, you caved, so they are hoping you will cave more.

Many contractors falsely believe that most people make their choice of contractors based on mostly price.  In one of the surveys I read years ago, price came in fifth in the order of consideration by people accepting bids.  Many other things are more important to people than price.

Even if you are new in your field, you need to price yourself right at the market price; no exceptions.

Even if people have not heard of you before in your field, they will instantly recognize that you must be good, and that you have some confidence in your ability and in your products.  That is the reputation that you want to instill from the very outset. 

Now if the service or products normally sell for $20.00, you cannot price it at $50.00, or you will go broke.  But pricing it at $10.00 is a great mistake.

Usually prices are set by the free market because that is the price where the vendor can sell his service or product and make a reasonable profit.  And everyone knows what that price point is.  So you stick out like a sore thumb when you come in low.

If you do not know at what price to bid the job/product, start with a reasonable price.  If you get every job, you are priced too low. The way I see it is that if you lose 20% of the bids you make, you are probably right in line with what the market is willing to pay.  If the calls are cold, in other words from the yellow pages or a website, I would expect to get only about 20% of those jobs anyway.  Most of those people are just shopping prices, and there is always a low baller out there.  You are not in competition with the low ballers.

I bid a job over the phone one night, and the lady said that another service said they would do the job for $150.00. That was $200.00 lower than my price.  I told her I understood, but that the people that give bids like that are generally involved with apartments, do no prep work to make sure it is a good job, and that if the job fails, they charge another $150.00 to do it over.  I told her we do not compete in that market.  She said, “That is what I kind of thought. Come do my job.”  Confidence sells along with asking God for the right words.

If you will go with the market price from the beginning, you will be accepted as a viable source from the outset if you or your product perform the way it should.

Finally, if you back up on a bid or bid the job less than the market, you will get a reputation that, “If you push him, he will come down.” What does that say about you, your ability, your business, your workmanship, your confidence and your self-image? Is that the reputation/self-image that you want?  NO!  Be confident.  It will pay off well.

If you back up on a bid or bid the job less than the market that is not fair to you. The laborer is worthy of his hire, and it is not fair to your family. You and your family deserve to be paid well for your work. You deserve to be paid just as well as the other guy. And you will find at times that some older businesses have not kept their pricing up to date. Do not let that discourage you from keeping your prices up.

One of the hardest things to see and remember is that your price is not just for the labor.  How much did it cost you to set your business up?  How much time did you invest in yourself to learn to do what you do?  Remember, that you are a business not just a day laborer.  The plumbing company charges $125.00 per hour to cover their costs and to pay the plumber.  They pay the plumber, the laborer, about $15.00 per hour.  You are a business not a laborer.

 They are paying for your knowledge and your ability to solve problems.

There are always exceptions to the rule but very rarely.  Maybe once in five years!

Sometimes you can set the market price yourself. One area I was involved in a few years ago, the job was currently priced at $350.00.  I was told a couple of years later by someone who knew that the price had dropped to about $150.00.  It was true as I asked people what the other bids were when there were some other bids.  I decided to set the standard for the pricing and kept our price at $350.00. Within a couple of years, the price was back up and then went even higher. Have some respect for yourself and your ability.

I have at times given a cheaper price to an elderly person. Not often, but once in a while when “the spirit moves me.”

I remember a story told to me by a banker in a small town years ago that I was working for.  She said that when the town finally put in a city sewer line, all the residents were required to pay their share.  But there was one elderly lady that lived in a tumble down house on the edge of town that sold vegetables from her garden on the street in the summer time. The town council voted to put her sewer in at no charge. The banker said that she could not tell them, but that lady had several million dollars in the bank in CD’s.  Things are not always as they seem!

Remember, price yourself at the market from the beginning.  It may be a little scary, but you will see the benefits if you will do it.  Then once you have given a price, stick with it.

Proverbs 14:33  Wisdom is enshrined in an understanding heart….  (New Living Translation)