At dinner one night a few months ago we had the privilege of sitting with the proprietors of a very well established restaurant. It is a warm and welcoming place with a very loyal clientele. It was built from the ground up by the patriarch of the family. His son told me that at the beginning, his father would work at his construction business from 7:00 to 3:00. Then he would come to the restaurant in the late afternoon and nap on a bench, asking the hostess to wake him if any patrons arrived for dinner. He would be at the restaurant late late into evening. Now they are busy 12 months of the year while many competitors close down during the off season. One of the keys to the success of the restaurant has been Father's long term view of all business matters. They always gave their best to their customers, treating them like family and never serving anything that wasn't the best quality. They have never advertised, choosing instead to focus on treating every customer like gold.
This conversation got me thinking about my own painting business and the idea of laying bricks...
Back when I started my painting business, I had a tiny concept in the back of my mind. I desperately needed the cash flow from completing projects. But I wanted to continue deriving a return on my efforts well into the future. I thought: 10 years from now I still want to be reaping the results of the work I do today. I called the concept 'the ten year pay cheque'.
Sure enough at the ten year mark of my business I found myself working again for my very first customer. I was still reaping fruit from some of the work I had performed a decade ago. It felt satisfying, in a full-circle kind of way.
Sure, we all need money on Friday to keep the wolves at bay and keep the wheels turning. But make sure to invest a little effort in the future of your business. That may mean over-delivering to exceed customer expectations. It might mean being extra diligent with clean up. It might mean adjusting your schedule to accommodate a client's timelines. It might mean making a little less profit now. It might mean turning down the job site stereo and not swearing or smoking on the job site.
Each job is a brick in the foundation of your business. Place it precisely and attentatively and you can count on it staying in place (just like your happy clients). You will be able to continue building off those solid bricks as your business grows.
Consider it all an investment in your future success. With every sale, every job, every transaction, we can make life easier or harder for our future selves.
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