Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Michigan Contractor Speaks Out On The Economy

Originally Posted 1.22.09

On the Service Roundtable’s HVAC Roundtable Joel Wensley responded to an article about the poor state of the Michigan economy. He gave me his permission to share it…

Ok, hold on just a minute before you all start feeling sorry for us. You can go ahead and say a prayer; I'll take all the help I can get, the Lord only knows how many times I've prayed for help and guidance. The news story you read is just a small isolated piece of Michigan.

Yes the property values are way down even in the suburbs however, they were way over valued a few years ago. Even the home I live in which I paid $460,000 for 5 years ago would have a hard time yielding $325,000 right now. If I were to make a move up I would be getting a bargain there as well, it's all relative.

People spend far too much time focusing on the negative side of issues. The homes that the article talks about could be purchased 5 years ago for the same amount if you wanted to risk yours and your families' lives by living in the most decrepit and crime ridden areas of downtown Detroit.

Even here in Michigan, where the unemployment rate is high, there are still millions of people working. I for one choose to look at the glass half full.

About three or four months ago, when all I was hearing was bad news, I finally made a decision to turn off the news in my car and in my home. I don’t allow myself to focus on bad news any longer. In conversations with people I keep control and don’t allow it to go south. I don’t want to hear it. When others are talking doom and gloom I simply walk away.

I am focused on growth and I refuse to participate in this recession. Nor will I let it control me or my thoughts. In six months or so from now everyone will have forgotten how bad it supposedly was anyway, so why embellish this line of thinking.

Yes I recognize that things are tougher out there, you'd have to be a complete idiot to at least not recognize it but you just can’t let it consume you it will make you physically sick.

I remember reading something from Matt Michel (Surviving a Slowdown) that it might take some hard work and that if everyone put forth 5% more effort that it would payoff, and he was dead on. It was after reading that article that I made the decision not to participate.

At the end of September we were still on my "stupid" target to only be down 10% in gross sales from 2007. What stupid line of thought. Why would anyone in their right mind plan on failing or at least some sort of failure?

Needless to say after changing my thinking I went at it hard, and we finished the year 4% over 2007 and we are on pace for a record January and 1st quarter.

I think just by being positive and walking around with a permanent smile on my face it has had some effect. People think I'm up to something and I love it. I have responded several times this week to the old "how are you doing" with "if I were any better I'd be on vacation."

Things are really good for me and my company right now. I can't wait for the economy to turn around cause then we'll be Kickin A-- and Takin names!

What have we done you ask? Well for starters I looked at everything in our overhead that I could cut without truly affecting our ability to operate normally.

I doubled our advertising (targeted) we run a lot of TOMA ads in the local papers and such while our competition has basically vanished from the pages. We are mailing to our customer base almost every 40 days.

We are making an increased effort to provide superior customer service and bend over backwards to accommodate people.

We have increased our web presence and have spent money on SEO for the site. We also increased our budget for the pay per click ads and are now going to really track those results.

We are managing our most precious resource (our labor force) more efficiently. In short we are working harder and smarter we are doing whatever is necessary to keep cash flowing through our doors and will continue on this path in any economy.

I cannot stress enough the importance of staying positive and choosing not to be part of the negativity!

Joel Wensley
Mechanical Heating & Cooling
Dearborn Heights MI

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