A rich person is not the one with the most
Contractor tip of the month
By Damian Lang
A rich person is not the one with the most; he’s the one who needs the least.
This statement was part of a message a friend sent me entitled “A conversation with God.” As soon as I read it I thought, “Wow, anyone who’s been in business the last three years knows how accurate this statement is.”
Regardless of how big or small companies were, the ones streamlined with the lowest overhead were best fit to survive this recession. When business was booming and things were good, these contractors only bought what they needed instead of what they wanted. At the time, these contractors appeared to be the poorest of all of us. They did not spend their money on vacation homes, airplanes, or fancy motor homes like the one I have. I’ll admit it: I was no different than most who were doing well. I was buying things I wanted, instead of sticking to things I really needed, and saving the cash to stave off a downturn in the economy. Now, I am paying for the falling into the “wants” versus “needs” trap.
You’d think I learned my lesson when I made an extra couple of thousand dollars on a job more than 20 years ago. It just so happened that the same day I got my check, a guy called me saying I was the grand prize winner of a home entertainment system. Growing up in the country and being sheltered from the real world, I trusted him. He said all I had to do was buy 100 coffee mugs with Lang Masonry Contractors engraved in them for $900. That was a lot of money for me back then, but hey, I’d just picked up a couple of thousand extra bucks, and I wanted the mugs to give my friends to show how well my company was doing. I never needed them, but I sure wanted them.
I received the mugs, which were in no way near the $9 each that he charged. I also got a $10 radio as my grand prize home entertainment system. Everyone this gullible country boy asked what to do to the company that did this awful thing to me just laughed as though I was an idiot for buying the story in the first place. A couple of months later, another guy from the same rip-off company called me offering me a similar deal. I figured I would have some fun so I played along. Then, before I agreed to pay for the new order, I asked if he could do a little better on grand prize he was offering, since the home entertainment system I got the last time ended up being a $10 radio. He replied, “Don’t worry, it won’t happen again as they fired the guy that did that.”
I let him know that that really made me feel good! Then, when he got everything written up and ready to set the hook in me, I asked, “Before we finalize this deal, will you agree that we get one thing straight?”
“Of course,” he replied.
“You got me once; you honestly think you are going to get me again?” I asked.
The phone went silent for a bit, then dead. Lesson learned: Too much money and focusing on wants instead of needs can make a fool out of anyone!
So, the next time you hit a few good jobs in a row and decide you want to buy something you don’t need, or your managers come to you and say they need a new forklift or Mud Hog mixer, ask them one question first, “Do we really need it, or do we just want it?”
And then, follow up with, “Is this going to pay for itself in the long run?” When you get to the point that you can afford the luxuries that extra money can buy, think about how things will be in 10 years, before you pull out that wallet or sign that bank loan. Think about how a time when things aren’t going to be just like they are today, and ask yourself again, “Do I want this, or do I need it?” Just maybe, you won’t be finding yourself with a $10 grand prize home entertainment system.
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.