Barron the Businessman, Edge the Entrepreneur and Tony the Tradesman represent the three figurative “voices” in my head. Like the voices in the heads of most small business owners, in their different perspectives, they argue, disagree, and sometimes disrespect each other.
Read more about them here: 3-Headed Business Owners. Who wins and in what measure, controls your business.
That’s why this Three Headed Owner blog post series is for you. To entertain you. To inform you. To make you think through key decisions that matter to your business.
Tony: We need a new truck! The one I’m driving keeps breaking down. It’s a piece of junk. Never drives right, even when its quote-unquote running well.
Edge: Oh, just take it down to Jake. He’ll fix it like he always does.
Tony: Yeah, I know all about your ol’ bud, Jake, and the “always” part! I spent three hours cooling my heels in his waiting room last week and two more so far this week!
Barron: You did what?! Five hours? On the clock sitting around doing nothing?!
Tony: Yeah. And the worst part is he didn’t even fix the transmission right. Just more slipshod stuff to get us through another week or two. It still needs a total rebuild. And we’re just postponing the inevitable.
Edge: So what. Just keep running it. It’s never as bad as you make it out to be. It’ll be fine.
Barron: No it won’t, and neither will our business. Every hour spent waiting on a vehicle is an hour we’re not serving a customer. An hour of us spending money – on repairs and to pay Tony – but not making any money. Some plan that is! No wonder we’re broke!!!
Edge: We should just buy out Mo’s Plumbing. They’ve got all new trucks.
Tony: We should stop being so cheap all the time and fix our stuff right the first time.
Barron: We should stop wasting production time and losing money on broken down trucks. We need to start capital budgeting and systematically replacing our trucks over time.
The Judge: Congratulations men, for once you all have at least a halfway-decent proposal!
Like Edge says, we could quickly upgrade our fleet if we bought a competitor with newer trucks. But we should wait until we have the financial ability to do that. Plus, doing that now just to get new trucks is the tail wagging the dog. If we do buy Mo out, as we’d all like to do, we need a strategy for paying for it and for generating long-term benefits, and not do it just to get his trucks.
And Tony’s absolutely right – it’s a waste of time and money to keep putting lipstick on the pig. Fixing our trucks right the first time is in the long-run less costly than temporarily fixing the same problems over and over again and losing precious production time doing so.
Barron, as usual, has the most cost-efficient suggestion. But one that requires advance planning and produces the best benefits over the long haul. Like he says, we need to do capital budgeting and set a multi-year plan for replacing not just one – but ALL – of our trucks as they age. In fact, Mo does that and it’s why he’s got such good trucks all of the time.
So, we’re going to handle this problem in three steps:
1. We’re going to rebuild the tranny tomorrow. We have no choice. It’s costing us too much cash and down time repairing it every week. If Jake’s not the guy to do the job well, we’re going to find a better mechanic who will. Tony’s going to lead this effort.
2. We’re going to start talking with Mo about his future plans. Edge is going to open up this discussion with him on their next fishing trip together. If and when those talks start to get into specifics, Barron is going to get involved and then start to take the lead.
3. We’re going to systematize the management of our trucks. We are going to keep a service file for each, set a schedule for each truck’s maintenance, and pre-plan a long-term budget for when each truck will need to be replaced and how much it will cost to do so. Barron is going to lead this job. Tony will research and feed him replacement cost info. Edge will suggest future fleet additions.
We’re going to get on top of this problem men!
It’s going to be great… Jake’s going to miss Tony; but Tony’s going to have a truck that runs, get a lot more work done, and make our customers happy… Barron’s going to get our financial ducks in a row so we don't keep having this problem… and when they do, Edge is finally going to be able to pursue Mo about us buying his business from him!
Everyone on board with the plan and its benefits?
Long live small business! Long live small business owners!
Jim Smith, Founder, PERFORMIDABLE, LLC