Time to Change, Before Change is All We Have Left
Contractor tip of the month
By Damian Lang
A couple of months ago, I wrote the tip “Don’t Worry about the Recession” and got a lot of good feedback from many who read it. Thanks for encouraging me to keep calling it how I see it. In a time when there is so much negativity, staying positive seems to lift people up. However, staying positive doesn’t mean there aren’t changes needed to survive.
President Obama campaigned feverishly on “change” and, Democrat or Republican, you have to admit that he has delivered it to us. We now have new taxes on the horizon, more regulation, extra OSHA inspectors being put on jobsites, and socialized healthcare adding to our cost of doing business. Yet, we have to bid tighter if we want to do any work at all. These are real costs that are coming and will take from profit (if there is profit anymore). It is time to make changes in anticipation of these new policies to offset the cost that will be incurred.
For example, for years I have provided company trucks to all my Project Managers and Superintendents. This costs thousands of dollars each year, and we looked at it as a cost of doing business. Now, with the current economic conditions, we have taken 15 trucks off the road, but got creative in doing it, utilizing a reimbursement plan. We now require our lead people to furnish their own trucks. They can purchase new or use their own vehicles, while we reimburse them for a large part of the payment and mileage for jobsite use only. And, the managers have received it well. The new truck policy has not only saved our company money, it has tremendously reduced my vehicle liability exposure. After all, people will tend to be safer and take care of their own vehicles much better than the ones that I gave them. They have a different way of looking at things, when they become responsible for the maintenance and new tires.
When people ask me if I approve of the job President Obama is doing, I tell them he sure makes me feel like a kid again. I am working 12 to 16 hours a day, like I did when I was in my 20s, just to keep the businesses alive. Obviously, this recession isn’t only his fault, as many politicians before him got the ball rolling down hill as well. However, when anyone puts policies in place that encourage people not to work, like extending unemployment to more than a year, at some point, it becomes welfare. John Kasich, who is running for Governor of Ohio, said, “When you have more people riding in the wagon than you have pulling the wagon, you have major problems.” I can’t think of anything closer to the truth.
In the “trends” information I study, the author discussed how the iPod brought instant death to the Sony Walkman. As long as we make the proper changes to cope with the economy, this recession isn’t instant death to any of us. Now is the time to make changes. Employees have not taken half the beating that most business owners have during the last couple of years. Employees know changes are coming and expect them, so make your changes now. If you don’t make the needed changes now, change is all you will have left in your pocket before this is all over with.
About the Author
Damian Lang is a mason contractor in southeast Ohio and inventor of many labor saving masonry systems and products. Lang has served as the Marketing Committee Chairman for the Mason Contractors Association of America. He is also author of the book Rewarding and Challenging Employees for Profits in Masonry. To network with Damian on contractor tips or tips you have and would like published, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-749-3512.