SEN Blog

The Value of Engaging a Pandemic-Guiding Business Coach

The pandemic is not letting up. Indeed, reporting has it accelerating in its intensity particularly in the South, Southwest and Far West. Some folks are saying it may be 2-3 years before the USA gets back to some sense of normalcy.

If you own a kitchen/bath business, now would be a good time to look in the mirror and ask yourself this question: Am I the one that’s holding back my company from the major changes needed right now to survive these unprecedented economic times? If you are honest, the answer is probably “yes.” Most small business owners are guilty of this charge. But most don’t recognize it. Or worse, won’t admit to it.

Hopefully you have made some changes since COVID-19 hit the states early this spring. The most obvious is generating sales remotely. How well have you effectively converted your sales process to this new enduring reality? Is it even the best process to deploy in this new world of doing business? Or will you be able to adapt fast enough to the proven one advocated by SEN? One that is featured in an exciting new technology platform coming out on July 30th, engineered specifically for closing sales remotely? Or will your competitors move faster than you in making sales process changes and gobble up major market share?

On a macro scale, most kitchen and bath firm owners are never going to better their current financial performance, weakened by this nasty pandemic, unless they can actually see the actionable priorities that must be taken. The risk is that the flaws in their business models are covered over, never to be detected and completely fixed by them alone. So, there is really no hope for them to get through this pandemic-induced recession relatively unscathed — perhaps even survive. Much less get their businesses to start functioning like engines for wealth creation when it’s over.

Today, too many kitchen and bath businesses are akin to east coast cars, bound for California, that keep chugging along on 3-4 working cylinders, instead of all six. They may make some decent time across the plain’s states. But when they reach the Rocky Mountains, their engines start heaving under the strain of getting over them, the cars lose momentum, and they finally roll dead on the side of the road — their engines all seized up. Much like how many kitchen/bath businesses will end up when this current recession hits full force, probably this fall or winter.

3 Benefits: Perspective, Discipline, & Accountability

You may argue that you survived the Great Recession because you had time to fix the flaws in your business model. And you may be right. But did you fix all of them …. or just the ones that were obvious to you? And that, plus some luck, got you through?

Don’t you think the thousands of dealers who went out of business back then would have avoided it if they could? Don’t you think that if they knew their business model was flawed in some fatal way, they would have corrected it to avoid bankruptcy? The problem was that these failed owners could not see the fatal flaws because they lacked the necessary perspective.

And that is the first key benefit of engaging a business coach: a fresh perspective on your company’s structure, performance, and future. The best coaches are those with extensive, industry-specific business experience – available 24/7 – who take the time to get to know you, your business model, your current financial standing, your goals, and your challenges today. In doing so, they lend your company a brand-new perspective that is invaluable. They will candidly tell you what’s wrong with your business, how the flaws need to be fixed, in what order they should fixed, how long they will likely take to be fixed, and what the outcomes will look like when they are finally fixed.

Ours is an industry largely driven by small, independent business owners. Strong egos are the norm. Many are designers first and businesspeople second. They respond to all the stimuli swirling around them — hot leads, great design ideas, fashionable new product introductions, webinars on design, social media, client questions, etc. As a group, it’s not much of a leap to think they may suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Kitchen/bath owners characteristically lack discipline such as carving out time every single week to work on their business. And that’s the second benefit that a business coach brings to the table: lending a healthy dose of discipline to business owners.

Effective business coaches will insist on setting a set day and time every week to meet with the kitchen/bath firm owner to work on his business. It may be just one hour a week — say Fridays at 9 am EST — and the meetings can be held efficiently by teleconference to eliminate travel time and expense. Once an owner gets started with these regular meetings, it’s been my experience that they quickly come to love them and look forward to the next one. Additionally, business coaching agreements require a multi-month commitment because history has proven that the most challenging directional changes, and transformational ones, take that long to achieve.

Most small business owners in the kitchen/bath industry do not have a board of directors. So they never have had to answer to anyone. (Okay, maybe to their banker if they have a credit line or long-term loan. However, a SEN/KBDN survey in July 2010 indicated that 85% of the kitchen dealer respondents did not have a strong banking relationship).

With an industry-specific business coach on board, kitchen/bath firm owners will, perhaps for the first time ever in their industry career, be held accountable for completing a weekly homework assignment or a major development project by an established target date. After all, when was the last time you scolded yourself for not completing something on time? Being held accountable by a third party, which is the third valuable benefit of hiring a business coach, can be a very good thing for moving a business forward. Particularly in this pandemic. Particularly if there isn’t a process in place where sales can be effectively made during virtual consultation meetings. Sales, after all, are the lifeblood of any business.

Why Industry-Specific Coaching Is Best

For both small and large kitchen/bath firms, the results from fully engaging the services of an industry-specific business coach can be absolutely spectacular. For example, I know of one large firm that had more than a $500K improvement in its bottom line in just one year. From an $80K loss to a $460K net profit! Plus, more than a few company owners have remarked to me that they wouldn’t be in business today if not for their coach.

Having worked in the industry for at least 20 years or more, Industry-specific coaches don’t need years to learn about your business and try out different strategies. Analyzing your financial statements and using benchmarking reports, they can spot major weaknesses quickly. Then help you prioritize and implement proven strategies for maximum traction forward. And, if it’s an exit strategy, they can reduce the prime time readiness to sell your business from 8+ years to fewer than 4. Additionally, an industry-specific coach costs considerably less than a generic business coach whose fees usually range from $1,500 – $2,500 per month.

Properly organized, developed, and managed, a kitchen/bath design firm business can indeed become an engine for wealth generation. The seeds can definitely be planted during this pandemic. Any dealer seriously interested in getting on this pathway to bona fide business success should engage an industry-specific coach sooner than later.

Dealers, both large and small, who are too much in denial to discover what truly ails their company, admittedly “too busy” to commit at least one hour per week to work on their business, or too proud to think they could use professional advice may not survive the depth and duration of this current recession. Or if they do, are destined to lose significant market share and be subject to endless marginal financial performance results. Can you live with those outcomes?

If not, and you would like to talk about industry-specific business coaching, please email me, Dan Luck at dluck@sendesign.com or John Lang at coachlang@sendesign.com. Investing in a coach today can be a business life and death decision.