Many building material companies had a poor first quarter. For most of these companies, this wasn’t through any fault of their own. For most of them it was a combination of a brutal winter and an economy that is not improving as fast as we all would like.
I have recently seen a few companies react to a poor first quarter by quitting the game. Rather than believing they can win, they are assuming they will lose. They are cutting back in an effort to avoid losing any more rather than committing to win.
They don’t believe they are in charge of their own destiny. They believe if they simply have a product, people will buy it. It’s not up to them how many of those people choose them.
Imagine any of these building materials leaders as a football coach.
What message are they sending to their salespeople?
“You don’t have to try too hard. We’re just going to sit this season out.” If you’re any good you might want to look for a job on a winning team.
What message are they sending to their fans, their loyal customers?
“We aren’t going to support you. If you’re a fan (customer) of ours, we’re going to make it easy for your competitors to beat you this year.”
And most dangerous of all what message are they sending to your competitors?
“They aren’t even going to try this year. If there has ever been a year to take business from them, this is the year. Let’s go get them. I can’t believe how easy they are making this.”
They will, of course, also cut back on innovation. This helps ensure another losing season next year.
It all adds up to – Loser!
Sometimes this is the fault of the leader who has no vision. Or only has a vision of what can go wrong rather than go right or doesn’t really believe in himself or his organization.
Too often it is the fault of the owner who may be Wall Street or a private equity firm. Neither of these takes the time to learn the business and believe that it is totally driven by simple metrics like, housing starts. These owners play not to lose rather than to win and discourage risk, by punishing failure.
If you’re on a team that got scared because of a rough first quarter, things aren’t going to get better. You might as well go on cruise control and just take your paycheck.
If you’re on a winning building materials sales team, this may be your best season ever. This is the year for winning teams to work hard and run up the score as far as possible.