E-News - Warning: Complacency Kills Business

Warning - Complacency Kills Business

Building a thriving, innovative business takes more than hard work and the ability to put out fires. You must also have the ability to think ahead, to anticipate the future, and you simply cannot afford to become complacent.

According to dictionary.com, the definition of complacency is “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often [occurring] while [one is] unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc.”

Complacency can occur when a business owner becomes almost prideful and narcissistic, when you get so comfortable with prior accomplishments and achievements that you begin to rest on your laurels and stop thinking about what you can achieve tomorrow. Comfort, while it feels great at times, is somewhat of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It will sneak up on you, and before you know it, you’ll be caught in its goal-killing claws and your business will fester and grow stagnant.

For most companies, growth requires taking a substantial share of the market from competitors. If a business owner becomes complacent and does not remain watchful, the business will lose sales and customers.Relaxing McAfee Heating and Air grew from $274 worth of capital and a used truck to the residential HVAC leader in our market. How? Much to our advantage, many competitors who’d been in business for decades had grown complacent and lost the fire in their belly that had once driven them to success.

When they grew comfortable in their success, they let their guard down, and McAfee stepped in and began to accomplish some things of our own. Because they stopped thinking about growing and changing and naïvely settled down in what they thought was a guaranteed Utopia, they were left in the dust by a new upstart. Steve Jobs once said, “Even the great brands need investment, attention, and caring,” and any successful company will realize that that attention and caring does not wane over time.

Three Ways to Avoid Complacency

Surround Yourself with People Who Will Keep You Challenged.
There are multiple ways to do this, such as forming a board of advisors, hiring a business coach, enlisting an accountability partner, or seeking out type-A personality friends who are not afraid to tell you what you need to hear, even if the medicine is a little bitter.

Know your competition.
It has been said that “knowing is half the battle,” but and this can never be more true than in business. You must be aware—at all times—of what your competitors are up to. In today’s very public, globally connected world, it is easy enough to track them via social media, advertising, and marketing. Count their trucks, and you can practically figure out how much revenue their churning out in a year, based on what you’re accomplishing with your own fleet. Also, take advantage of customer feedback when you convert their customers to yours; ask them what they liked and didn’t like about that other company. Do your research and figure out what kind of equipment they carry, what warranties they issue, and what kind of business ethics they operate under. The more you know about your competition, the better you can compete with them.

Never get satisfied.
Every successful business must be a perpetual work in progress. You, as the entrepreneur, the owner, president, or CEO, must be restless in your pursuit of ever-higher levels of performance. If you become satisfied, it’s over. This goes for your sales team as well. Salespeople often grow complacent in booming economic times, only to suffer extreme disappointment when the economy takes a downturn. This is also why salespersons should never be paid a base salary. You may start them off on a base for training, but that base should be replaced with straight commission once they are trained and ready to go out into the world and sell your brand. To build a profitable, proud, innovative, and truly productive business that will pass the ultimate test of remaining healthy and profitable in even the choppiest of economic times, you must not linger in complacency. Stay uncomfortable, dissatisfied, and hungry!

Carry On!

Greg McAfee
Greg McAfee
HVAC Business Consultant