The worst part of being the boss, without question, is having to fire people.
And in my 20-year career, I’ve fired plenty. Some because they were a bad fit. Some because they stole from me. Some because they just weren’t doing a good job. And some because we were downsizing and had no choice but to let them go.
But every single time, it sucked.
Some bosses can fire with flair. I had a COO for a while who had worked as a district manager at Wal-Mart earlier in his career. When he had a problem with an employee, he’d sit them down and say to them with an eerily calm voice, “I’ve fired 1,000 people in my career; I won’t think twice about making you 1,001.”
That’s not me.
I dread it and put it off for as long as possible. I try to find reasons to keep the person around. I give them lots of rope and lots of chances.
You know, probably like you.
But over the years I’ve realized that keeping the “wrong people on the bus” is not helpful to anyone. I’ve found that Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan is the right policy for letting people go.
The key, then, is to make sure you’re doing the right thing. Which is why I’ve come up with a little 4-step formula that helps me determine whether or not to boot somebody. This might be helpful to you—so here it is.
There are four things—and only four—that need to be considered:
- Longevity & Loyalty: How long somebody has worked for me—and how loyal they’ve been to the company—plays a major factor in how hard I’ll fight to keep them around.
- The Good They Do & Irreplaceability: If somebody is adding a lot of value to the company, or if they are going to be really hard to replace, that weighs in their favor.
- The Problems They Cause: What is the problem that is making you think about firing them? How severe is it, and who does it affect? Customers? Vendors? Other employees? You?
- How Much Money They Make: How much money are they making—not in raw dollars, but compared to how much production you are getting from them, and how much it would cost to replace them.
Case Study: To Fire or Not to Fire?
I had an employee who had been with me for about 7 or 8 years who was causing me some significant problems. Here is how I graded him on the 4 categories:
- Loyalty: Very loyal employee; would do anything I asked without hesitation. Had worked for the company for almost a decade. Very dedicated to his job.
- Good: He worked long hours and was very thorough in his work.
- Bad: He had the communication skills and decision making abilities of a robot. He didn’t know when to be funny, when to be serious, and when to be business professional. He emailed customers when he should have called. He pushed buttons when he should have been turning dials. Customers were frequently upset, but they had a hard time saying so because they LIKED him so much. We lost several customers because of poor decisions made by this employee.
- Pay: Since he’d been there a while, and since his job had changed, he was making about 50% to 70% more than it would have cost to replace him.
This was a tough case—his loyalty and good were sufficient to keep him around for about 2 years. But when the bad started outweighing the good, the PAY tipped the scale and he was terminated.
The 4-questions might seem rudimentary and obvious, but stop and think about it for a minute. If you have a hard time firing people (like I do), then it’s good to have an objective set of steps to rely on that never vary from situation to situation. The steps allow you to assign things like loyalty their proper weight. This turns the decision from a strictly emotional one into a logical, reality-based decision.
In fact, you may want to do a quick mental inventory of any employees who are causing you any amount of frustration… or who seem to be overpaid.
Then, if you find somebody who need to get the boot, here’s my final piece of advice: do it quick, like ripping off the proverbial Band-Aid quickly. It’s hard to do, but trust me, it will be for the better.
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Set Your Sail Now… And You’ll Like Where The Winds Take You
By Rich Harshaw
On February 12, 1981, the rock band Rush released what would become its most commercially successful album ever, Moving Pictures.
Given the fact that a huge percentage of both remodeling contractors and Rush fans are white men in their early 40s to mid 50s means there’s a pretty good chance you’re familiar with Tom Sawyer, Red Barchetta, Limelight, and YYZ.
The album—that band’s eighth—was certified 4X platinum, which means it sold over 4 million copies in the USA alone. The band immediately kicked off a tour where they played 84 shows in less than 5 months.
I was 12 years old at the time and wasn’t a big fan just quite yet (that would come a few years later); however, my older brother and several of my good friends made their way to Reunion Arena in Dallas to see the show.
Price of a ticket? $10.00. This ticket stub below is a GREAT seat… 11 rows up and less than 30 feet back from the stage.
Keep in mind: We’re talking about one of the most popular bands in the world at the time, at the very apex of the whole “arena rock” era and you could buy GREAT seats for ten bucks.
That’s the same year that major labels raised the list price of most (vinyl) albums to $9.88. So in other words, you could see the band live for roughly the same price as the album.
I wonder if Rush ever imagined that those EXACT SAME long-haired, pot smoking teenagers (not me!) that made them ten-dollars-at-a-time millionaires would still be filling arenas and making them multi-millionaires 34 years later?
Because that’s exactly what has been happening for the last decade-plus—including now.
On Monday I attended the Rush concert at American Airlines Center in Dallas with my brother, my cousin, and a friend, and joined roughly 10,500 other hard-core fans who paid an AVERAGE of $73 each to be there.
This is what $764,883 looks like. Notice the lack of pot smoke.
Our seats were NOT as good as the 1981 ticket stub shown above, and they were $96 (over $120 with “fees”). And I was upset that I could not access the better tickets for $127 on Ticketmaster (ie, the Devil).
A little online research shows that a ticket that cost $10 in 1981 is the equivalent of about $25 now. That means Rush is essentially charging THREE TIMES the money for concerts in 2015 than they were when they were Rock Gods in 1981. And you had better believe that the best seats were selling at a multiple of 5 to 10 times the 1981 prices.
All of which got me to thinking: what an enormously brilliant business model!
The more time passes, the more passionate their fan base becomes… and (this is the kicker), the more affluent their fan base becomes so they can afford to—and gladly—pay more money for the service.
And believe it or not, it’s a business model you can emulate in your remodeling business.
The three major keys are hard work, harmony, and longevity.
Hard Work: Lots of people have talent, but very few work their ever-living guts out to become absolute masters of their trade. Ask anyone that knows anything about music—regardless of style preferences—and they’ll tell you that nobody is better at their respective instruments than the three members of Rush are at theirs. Check any list of best drummers of all time, best bassists of all time, or best guitarists of all time, and you’ll always find Neal (#1), Geddy (#2), and Alex (#26—blasphemous!) as a de facto three-man Mt. Rushmore of excellence.
What about you? Are you satisfied with being good—and not too concerned about being great? Are you willing to put in the long hours and tedious practice to become absolutely awesome? Are you constantly examining what you do, reinventing your company, and pushing yourself to new and better things? Are you questioning the status quo—both in your industry and in you company—and constantly trying to find a way to reach higher ground?
This would be a good time to review that clip of Will Smith talking about talent vs. hard work.
Harmony: Simple truth: your business can’t make millions of dollars a year 40 years from now if your business does not exist 40 years from now. Assuming you’ve got the talent and have put in the hard work, your company’s biggest threat is lack of harmony inside your company.
Rush joking refers to drummer Neal Peart as “the new guy” because he joined the band in 1974, just after the release of their first album, and 2 weeks before their first US tour. Somehow, amazingly, this group has managed to stay together for over 40 continuous year now—and from all appearances—they genuinely seem to like each other. They have extremely divergent personalities (especially Peart), but they have manage to find a way to stay together.
Needless to say, this is a rarity.
I’m only 20 years into my business, and I’ve already experienced my share of bad partnerships and nasty business divorces. But I’m also proud to say that my right-hand man has been firmly by my side for 14 years now—through plenty of thick and thin—and things continue to get better and better at MYM.
What about your company? Are you easy to get along with? Do you forgive and forget? Do you allow room for divergent opinions and input from your closest employees? Everybody wants and needs a leader—but at the same time, people have to feel respected and want to be heard. If you keep finding yourself in bad relationship after bad relationship (personal or business), you may want to look in the mirror and see if you can identify the source of the problem.
Longevity: A highly successful mortgage broker friend of mine was giving career advice to a 21-year old kid who was considering getting into that business. I’ll never forget his words:
“Young guys get into this business every year with dollar signs in their eyes—then quit a year later. They can’t compete with me, and they can’t ever figure out why. But the reason is simple: I could shut down every bit of advertising and marketing I do and still outsell you 100 to 1. My phone rings 10 times a day—365 days a year—with people who have known me, been referred to me, gotten loans from me, and liked my services for the last 20 years. There is simply no way you can compete with my 20-year history.”
Rush has not lost their touch. Their new music is as creative as ever. But they haven’t released a new album since 2012—and only 2 in the last 10 years—yet they still packed the arena on Monday. They’ve had over 40 years to get known, to be adored by fans, and to simply KEEP SHOWING UP to work.
Of course, longevity won’t be an option if hard work and harmony are not mastered; but if they are, you can look forward to a long, rich future in your business. Your customers will keep coming back over and over… and be willing to pay whatever price you are asking. They’re refer their friends. They’ll sound excited when they call. And they’ll smile when they write the check.
Getting old doesn’t have to mean losing your edge. If you play your cards right, there’s a ghost of a chance you’ll just keep getting better and stronger too.
Free Lead Generation Audit: We’ll conduct an in-depth audit of your company’s website and lead generation activities, the spend 90 minutes on the phone with you discussing our findings… and conducting and Identity discovery session. This valuable marketing insight is worth $4,500, and is yours for FREE—if you meet the conditions.
This Case Study About A Video Game Manufacturer Will Blow Your Mind. Read It Now.
The Client Had No Idea They Were Sitting On A Goldmine.
How To Turn The Seemingly Ordinary Into The Greatest Thing Ever.
By Rich Harshaw
The year was 1997 and I was less than 3 years into my career as a marketing guru.
Actually, guru status was the farthest thing from my mind. My main objective was to extend my winning streak with this client, Dynamo, Ltd.
The company manufactured coin-operated amusements… stuff like pool tables, air hockey machines, foosball tables, and so forth.
Earlier in the year, I had hit a home run for them with a product called “Top Brass Pool.” I had created an advertising campaign that very effectively convinced the owners of bars, bowling alleys, restaurants, and yes, even gentlemen’s clubs… that they could make more money from their pool tables by upgrading from the traditional green felt and wood colored pool table (50 cents per play) to the much fancier blue felt and black laminate version ($1.00 per play).
When truckload-sized orders started pouring in, my client was thrilled—they had been literally on the brink of bankruptcy 7 months earlier when they hired me. Now they were flush with cash—but also overflowing with great expectations.
Take These Steps To Increase Website Conversion… And Automatically Juice SEO Results
The Not-So-Obvious Connection Between Website Conversion & SEO
Get Good At One… You’ll Automatically Improve The Other.
By Rich Harshaw
Want to juice your SEO rankings? Simple! Just create and post a ton of great content on your website.
Want your website to do a better job of converting lookers into buyers? Simple! Just create on post a ton of great content on your website.
Is it really THAT simple?
Well… yes and no.
No, because both disciplines—SEO and website conversion—are fairly complex and multi-faceted.
To maximize conversion on your website, you’ve got to have an attractive & aesthetically pleasing site, a rock-solid identity, plenty of evidence & social proof, and a few strategically engagement tools (forms, pop-ups, calls to action, etc.).
And to maximize SEO effectiveness, you’ve got to master on-page coding (or what I call nerd-coding), back linking, social media posting, keyword selection, and more.
But the bedrock foundation of both is great content.
Lots and lots of relevant, interesting, recent, case-building CONTENT.
Here are a few kinds of content you can produce that will push you speedily toward your destination in both categories: