Out in a Crowd:
"It paid for itself in no time," was the response of Michael Ramonski of Rainforest Reptiles, when asked about his decision to detail his black Suburban with yellow reptile paw prints. Rainforest Reptiles offers a wide variety of services ranging from product announcements for GM vehicles to educational programs about reptiles to over 120 PETCO (pet supply) stores. Ramonski was relaxed as a 7-foot boa constrictor coiled itself around Ramonski's extremities cutting the circulation off in his left foot. But the business owner admitted that initially he was uneasy about his decision to get the vehicle detailed.
Ramonski was in business for some time before he reluctantly took the jump to decorate his vehicle. He did so in an attempt to attract attention in his hometown of Boston and while traveling several days a week with toads, snakes, alligators, and lizards. At the time, Ramonski thought it was a small decision, but it impacted his business in a big way. The boldly detailed vehicle is a mobile billboard that separates Rainforest Reptiles from all other vehicles on the road and captures the imaginations of PETCO visitors each time it rolls into a parking lot.
Like many people, Ramonski loves what he does. His primary focus is on the product and service, and he's not a savvy marketer. But as a small-business owner, he tried something different, and the move paid off.
How many times have you done the same: waited too long to make a decision (or didn't make it at all)? How much did it cost you in pricey maintenance, repairs, or lost opportunities? Decision-making and action are important parts of the leadership/management role. Your product is the result of your decisions and actions. The success of small and large firms alike hinge on the decisions of management. If you are entrepreneurial, you may remember the days you did all the tasks in the firm, and as the firm grew your physical input declined in importance while your decision-making scope and influence increased. If you work in a large organization with thousands of employees, it's obvious that if you tried to do everything yourself, you would get nothing accomplished. Your decisions are your bread and butter.
Here are a few points to ponder:
1. Once a decision has been made and not acted upon, you lose from that point forward until action is taken. For example, you finally make the decision that investing in the new electronic surveillance equipment will save you $27,000 a year. You wait for 6 months, and during that time, you need to repair your current piece of equipment twice. The output is 18% less and you've lost money.
2. In a recession, make decisions you would have made when things were going well. In "bad-times" business, it's generally accepted to put off decisions for brighter times. In the advertising/marketing world, statistics show that those who invest during slower times come out miles ahead when markets are "good" again.
3. Most people play and work harder when they feel their chances of winning are good. Few participate knowing they are destined to lose, including your employees. When making decisions, do so with a sound mind. Risks are okay occasionally, but to get your people on board, sensible choices are best.
4. There is a point where thinking needs to be replaced with gut instinct. As decision makers there is always a time to act and those who don't act quickly are not decisions makers. Entrepreneurs and "go-getters" often are misperceived as impulsive. In most cases, you've done the homework, and you have experience and knowledge on your side. In such cases, a fast decision doesn't mean you're impulsive. If you've ever built or bought a home, you know the feeling. Even though you see plans or walk in and say, "This is it," you may have looked at styles of homes for years with the intent on making the choice one day.
5. There is an opportunity to make a new decision every moment of every day that will affect your firm and your life. Don't take this lightly. You can, right now, make a decision to call your largest prospect or to go golfing with a friend. Both will lead you somewhere. When it comes to your role as a decision-maker, everyone knows that sometimes you'll win and sometimes you'll lose. If fear is holding you back from making a decision, there are three areas to explore. The first is that perhaps you haven't gathered all the information you need to go forward. The second is that you have yet to plan the course of your action: who, what, how. The third is that you haven't charted your contingency if things don't go as planned. In any event, you must take action, like Michael Ramonski did. Done right, your move just might pay for itself in no time.
David and Lorrie Goldsmith are managing partners of MetaMatrix Consulting Group, LLC. Their firm offers consulting and speaking services, as well as conducts seminars for senior level management. They can be reached at (315) 476-0510; email firstname.lastname@example.org and http://www.metamatrixconsulting.com/ .
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