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Edition 31 – Stop Saying No!

I have had the good fortune of working with many great family businesses over the years. The industries may differ. The personalities certainly differ. For me, the part I really like is working with business owners who consider an issue, gather the facts, make a decision and then implement it immediately. No committees. No politics. Just get on and do it.

Late last year I commenced working very intensively with one of my long standing family business clients. They’d been notified they’d lost 25% of their business overnight. Not next month or next year, but next week.

This loss was a significant impact to their business. Traditionally, their work was contract based, meaning that it would usually roll from year to year until the head contract was re-negotiated every five years. This loss impacted every aspect of their business. They felt they would get through, yet they knew that would have to change their ways in business to start bringing new work in the door.

In our first intensive meeting together, we developed the strategy for the business. We identified great opportunity and enormous potential, however there was an undercurrent starting to appear.

In our second intensive meeting together, we started to drill down on those opportunities. The undercurrent re-emerged and so I probed until we found the problem and the question all in one go.

This family business kept saying NO! A client would ring up and ask for something to be done and my client replied they couldn’t do it. Or the turnaround time was too tight. Or, most likely, couldn’t was wouldn’t because of their attitude towards one of their clients in particular. The same client that withdrew 25% of their business overnight.

In our meeting, we role played a couple of scenarios to demonstrate exactly what their clients were hearing, and why revenue had, at first, been flat-lining and now, was likely to take a steep dive.

Some of their reasons for saying NO! were valid. Some were stupid. All of them, however, created the persona that my family business client didn’t need or want the work that was being offered to them. So, their clients started looking elsewhere for someone that would say YES!much like a child asks the other parent when the first keeps saying NO!

It took a bit of time. It required some habits to change, but the turnaround was fast. Very fast. When they started saying YES! they kept receiving more phone calls for work. That generated conversations about other services my family business client was able to offer to their clients that previously they were unaware of. Before you knew it, work picked up to the point where a flat-line result for the 2016 year was a real possibility — not bad given the departure of one large client.

Except, they didn’t flat-line. They were up! Annualised, their turnover is up more than 20% over the result they were expecting before they lost their big client. Why? Word got around they were no longer saying NO! to the point their former client even came back to them and started giving them work again. All because they stopped saying NO! and started saying YES!

This Week’s Tip

If you changed your NO! to a YES!, imagine what the impact would be on your family business’ revenues, profit, cashflow and capital value.