For over 100 years, baseball was a game defined by what seemed like simple things: Wins and losses. Obviously the more talented team you had, the more you’d be in a position to win a lot more games on your quest to be a world champion. But in about the last decade, as teams gained more access to data on players that they could drill down on, General Managers realized that they could have greater insight on each player’s value in their contribution to the team beyond the simple statistics that everybody knew.
What does this have to do with the refinishing business? This: On paper, you have a certain of jobs you’ve bid for and been successful with as well as some jobs that didn’t come through. Those are your wins and losses. But do you know exactly why your record is where it is and what you could do improve upon it?
Much like baseball management, refinishers have to go beyond the first numbers they see to ask: Why did I win those jobs? Why did I lose those jobs? What did I do to encourage a successful referral? Was that referral always an ideal customer and if not, why not – was there something I could’ve said or done to guide the referring customer?
Suddenly, you’re getting a little more analytical about your business, aren’t you? It’s easy to simplify the answers to say, “One person was cheaper so I lost the job due to that.” But was it really just about price? Or was there something about your process that wasn’t communicated clearly, which in turn made the prospect uncomfortable to choose you over someone who spelled out every detail?
Where To Start
Think about the last 10 jobs you bid on and remember which ones you got and which ones you didn’t. That gives you a “win ratio” that’s going to be ever-changing but one that will help give you something to start with as a baseline and improve upon over time. So if you bid for 10 jobs and won 6 of them, you’re batting at a 60% clip. You may also go by a certain number of jobs in a month or a quarter if that’s easier to track.
This is where the baseball General Manager might start, by seeing some averages and win-loss records on paper. It’s a starting point. Now we have to find out why those averages and records are the way they are.
Know Why They Chose You – Or Didn’t
A baseball General Manager has a scouting report to help him get a better sense of the averages and records of each player. The more he knows about the details, the better he can make adjustments.
In your world, this means it’s time to understand where our customer is coming from in making their decision.
Many of us are just so happy that they decided to go with us that we never aim to understand why. What does it matter, right? We got the business! But we don’t always know why we got the business.
Again, price may be something that’s easy for them to say but there might be more to it than that. Ask them or, at the very least, provide a feedback form at the end of the job that helps you gain some greater insight on why they selected you, what they thought of the process, what they might recommend you improve upon and how likely they would be to refer you to others. This feedback is tremendous and it’s important for you to get it before you walk out the door at the completion of the job. Why? The details are fresh in their mind so they can elaborate more clearly and it gives you a sense of great professionalism in being seen as someone who is serious about providing the most positive experience possible.
Similarly, when we’re told we didn’t get the business, we don’t aim to understand that very much either. We just want to move on as quickly as possible without dwelling on our negative qualities because it feels like adding insult to injury. But just as we want to get feedback no later than when the job is complete when we win, we want to get feedback quickly when we’re told we didn’t win because it’s recent and the detail should be at its clearest. At first, our customer may feel uncomfortable in telling us why they didn’t choose us, but give them a sense that it’s OK to express the reasons as we’re just trying to understand what to improve upon. Losing is always hard but gaining intelligence on how to improve our chances of a win next time takes a little bit of the sting away.
Don’t forget to make sure that when you’ve been referred to understand from the new customer who originally did the referring and why they referred you.
Align Your Process and Message
Once the baseball General Manager has his data, he has to see how it all plays out on the field. If a player has a low average and we learn he’s been striking out quite a bit, there may need to be some adjustments to their swing or batting stance. Obviously a baseball player’s challenges won’t fix themselves without knowing where to look so this information is key.
In the same sense, now that we have more information on why people gave us the business, went somewhere else or referred us business, of that what can we incorporate into what we say and do for a prospective customer so that we’re saying the kinds of things that are important to them? When we have the opportunity to make some adjustments and see how those adjustments play out in the field by continuing to measure results, we can become better and better at what we deliver for people. From our introductory impressions to after the job is done.
Give this strategy a try and stick with tracking your results to see where you can hone your “game.” Here’s hoping you’re headed for a season to remember.