Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Death of a Lawnman

My lawn man died.  It took me by surprise when my mother-in-law showed me the obituary a few months ago, but there it was in black and white… Dennis was gone. Dennis was a real nice man and although I didn’t know him very well, we did have a couple of meaningful conversations leaning against the fence that separates my property from Mrs. Smith’s.

I grew up cutting grass. As a boy in Auburn, Alabama, I mowed almost every yard in my neighborhood, and as I painstakingly manicured the lawns of the Bent Creek subdivision, I used to fantasize about one day having a lawn man to do it for me.  I did – and now he was gone.  I will miss him, but now I faced a dilemma. Dennis charged the same rate for twenty-five years. Even when gas spiked at over three dollars a gallon, Dennis held firm. His rate was far below what the big landscaping companies in our area charge -- and there was no way I was going to pay that -- so I decided to man up and get back into the business of mowing lawns.  My lawn.

After a testosterone-filled trip to Lowe’s Home Improvement Store (full of grunting, pointing, and kicking the tires of the zero-turn-radius lawn mowers), I arrived home with a new mower (not a zero turn radius), a weed eater, and a high-powered blower. I was locked, cocked, and ready to rock.

For three months now I have been mowing my own lawn and have discovered a few truths that I feel are worth sharing. First of all, I love mowing my yard. I feel a sense of pride and satisfaction when I am finished that I never did as a kid. This came as quite a surprise to me, because for years the smell of fresh cut grass reminded me of hours of hard labor in the unforgiving Alabama sun. Secondly, I discovered that I do a better job than Dennis did. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not disparaging Dennis in any way, but I wasn’t paying him enough to pick up sticks, trim shrubs, and edge the driveway.  He came once a week, mowed and left. Finally, I now know every inch of my property. This sounds a bit silly, especially since I have lived in my house for four years, but when you are responsible for managing your own yard, you become familiar with every nook, cranny, root, rut, and problem area.

So why now? Why do I now feel differently about doing something I despised as a kid? One word:  OWNERSHIP. I own my property, therefore I take pride in its appearance. I own my property, therefore I take responsibility for its functionality and purpose. If I don’t manage a routine maintenance schedule, the blame for the appearance of my yard lays with me.  Why? Because I own it.

 Why would it be any different in your business? The most successful salespeople are the ones who take ownership.  You may not sign your own paycheck, but when you take ownership of your customers, clients, product lines, and territories, you begin to control your outcome.

Here are three ways to OWN THE SALE:


GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY. I once spoke for a restaurant chain that required all of the management trainees sweep the parking lot for a week. I was told that at the end of the week the trainees will be able to fully understand and appreciate the job they are asking a restaurant employee to do -- as well as know EXACTLY how long it should take to complete the task.


INTIMATELY KNOW YOUR YARD (PRODUCT).  My friend Jimmy Prophet sells industrial batteries. He not only knows his product, he knows so much about the equipment that utilizes his product that company engineers call him in to solve problems they can’t. Do you think his competition can intimidate him by undercutting his price? NO WAY. He is a valuable resource.


MAINTAIN YOUR MOWER.   It is amazing how much easier it is to cut my grass when I have the blade sharpened regularly. Is your company too cheap to buy you a new laptop? Buy your own. Boss too stingy to reimburse for client meals? If it closes the deal, pay for it yourself. You are the owner.  It’s time to stop complaining and cut the grass. 

Patrick Henry is a songwriter, author, and professional speaker, who shows clients how to create distinction in the market place and blow away the competition with the four keys to becoming a “ROCKSTAR IN A ROOM FULL OF KARAOKE SINGERS”. Patrick’s entertaining programs show audiences what happens when Keynotes, Comedy, and Concerts Collide. For more information go to www.PatrickHenrySpeaker.com
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Patrick Henry is a professional speaker, humorist, author, and songwriter who delivers funny and entertaining keynote speeches. Patrick shows audiences how to create IMPACT! by creating extraordinary customer, client and co-worker experiences. He is what happens when Keynotes, Comedy and Concerts...Collide!