I’m often asked, “Why do you just work with small and mid-sized businesses? There seems to be so much you could offer big companies, too.” Well, I suppose we could, but we really don’t have a desire to. And therein lies an interesting insight. We choose to work with small and mid-sized business owners. We enjoy their entrepreneurial zest, their self-reliance, their “damn the torpedoes” attitude. Always have. We choose NOT to work with large businesses.
When I came up with the idea to launch this business, it’s true that we had done extensive research to find opportunistic niches to exploit. But, it’s also true that those niches had to fit within WHO we wanted our Clients to be someday. We thought it was important that we resonate with our Clients. “Being in their shoes,” takes on a whole other meaning for us. See, people buy from people; companies don’t buy from people, so these are important matters to reflect on.
With us, we empathize with the daily struggles and challenges our Clients and Prospects face, because we face them too. We regularly hear from people who appreciate how “spot-on” we are about the realities of commercial banking and wealth-creation from a small businessperson’s point of view. Russ Davis from Columbia, Missouri recently sent me a fax in which he stated, “I feel like you must have planted hidden cameras and listening devices in my house. You hit the nail on the head so hard, it’s spooky.”
I suppose it’s a truism that people also want to buy from those they like, feel most similar to, and “get” their issues. It would be difficult for most owners of small and mid-sized businesses to find a commercial lender that understands them more than we do. We try not to create new hurdles to this relationship when it comes to our Clients and Prospects . . . we don’t want to be anything BUT authentic, and we don’t need any new impediments to our sales cycle.
In the beginning or even now, we really had no desire to work with big corporations. There are a number of reasons why, among them:
• The lack of progress-stopping politics in smaller companies.
• The lack of decision-stopping committees in smaller companies.
• Less bureaucratic B.S. in smaller companies.
• The ability to get more profound results with smaller companies.
• Congruency with us, since we’re business owners of a smaller concern.
In large companies, their agendas are often not related to real results, or they have to do things allegedly to please their shareholders, when what they really need to do is enlighten them better. It’s a real interesting phenomenon that hundreds, if not thousands, of companies are going private these days or staying private when they should be registering their IPOs, at least by historical standards. Washington Regulators (and Wall Street, being forced to follow them) have made it quite inhospitable for public companies these days, unlike anything ever before. More U.S. companies and foreign companies are listing on foreign stock exchanges, when they would have listed on our exchanges in days gone by. This is a sad state of affairs and something that WILL hurt us long-term unless checked soon. There really isn’t much of a reason to go public today in America and that’s sad.
Plus, by virtue of their sheer “bigness,” everyone buying a product or service from big companies is always just a number . . . try as they might to upend this, it’s an unwavering fact. Some of this is purely “cigarette boat versus freighter,” but it’s more than just that. I’ll give you an interesting example from a member of one of my coaching groups.
I have a very talented General Contractor who specializes in restaurant work and medical office construction in 1 of my 4 business coaching groups. The construction industry is notorious for employing a bidding system to determine who wins contracts. Several local and very large restaurant companies think this guy’s work is top-notch. They’ve sought him out and told him so on several occasions. Yet, they continue to stand behind their policies requesting that he bid for their contracts. Very wisely, he doesn’t bid his work — doesn’t have to, as his superior quality and convention-defying construction management process keeps him plenty busy. Sure, he’d enjoy doing their local jobs for them, but he’s been burned in the bid process too many times and will only play by his rules going-forward.
In his industry, there occurs the classic case of getting what you pay for from the lowest cost provider CONSTANTLY — heartache and too many change-orders which leads to cost increases. . . often above what the “specialist” bidder was quoting originally. This happens daily in commercial construction. . . and more than likely in your industry, too. Usually the Specialist had accounted for everything in his bid, while the generalists had purposely (or ignorantly) left things out knowing they’d add them in later and make up their profit there. Classic “bait-and-switch” hoping they’re too far down the line to abort the mission. You’d think architects, engineers and lenders, being somewhat innocent bystanders, would advise their Clients to this reality and just recommend the best GCs . . . but they rarely do — they rarely get involved at all. The bid process is, “Just the way it’s always been done.” Without a system for smartly selecting, this lowest common denominator approach prevails.
Three different times, he’s spurned the big companies’ advances, each time explaining that he won’t waste his time bidding for a project against a bunch of generalists. “It’s what we have to do,” they’ll tell him, yet again. “Since we’re a public company, we have to protect our shareholders.” Yes, they do and protecting means sometimes they might have to pay marginally more for a better finished product. . .one that saves more money over time. Of course, that means they’ll need to educate their shareholders, if that’s really the reason or change the stupid policy that mandates they go with the lowest bid every time. BUT, they’re a Big, Dumb Company, and they don’t appear to want to do things differently. As one of my mentors jokes, “There’s a reason CEOs of Big, Dumb Companies get chauffeured to and from work . . . it’s because they couldn’t find the place by themselves.”
People pay for better quality, better experience, and more specialized knowledge every time . . . when they’re made aware of it and educated as to the reason(s) why it’s a wiser decision. According to studies, only 8% of our populace always makes buying decisions based on price alone. Wonder what that other 92% is thinking, don’t you? Have you thought about this in relation to your business and your Clients and Prospects? It doesn’t just apply to GCs and commercial lenders like us. It applies to ALL businesses, even ones thought to have become commoditized. My coaching client doesn’t sell contracting services; he sells beautiful work, certainty, expert knowledge, piece of mind, thoroughness, great pricing for great work, and so forth. We don’t sell money or the lowest interest rate; we sell the fulfillment of dreams, ease of our process, expertise, speed, consistently low and fair interest rates, the best overall deal, and SMARTER financing. What do YOU really sell?!?