There was a family I knew who owned an auction business. It was a small, family-run business where several of the kids were auctioneers and EVERYONE was expected to show up for the weekly household auctions. The auction barn as they lovingly called the building was a former skating rink. The seats were pulled from an old movie theater at some point and if you walked toward the rear where there was a storage area, you could even see the old mirrored ball dangling from the rafters, all covered in dust and soot.
The father ran the business for many years as an auction, an estate liquidation provider and as a used furniture store. As soon as the children could add and subtract, lift a chair or pack a box, they were recruited into the business. The oldest children grew to love and hate the business for various reasons. Love it because they learned an appreciation for antiques and beautiful heirloom items. Hate it because the business often stood in the way of the things they really wanted to do on Saturday nights. Despite this love/hate relationship, when the oldest kids grew to be adults, each of them recognized ways the business could be improved to yield better profits. One son saw great potential in changing the advertising being done. Another knew many antiques were sold much lower than their value because no research was done prior to the sale to see that the items were accurately identified and placed in the advertisement. Despite the fact that the business was established for 40 years, many people drove by the building each day and had no idea what went on in it.
The father had not had any business training. He was a steelworker who needed to make a living to raise his nine children and someone suggested the auction company would be a good fit for the abandoned skating rink. For many years, the old man paid an auctioneer to call the sales until his wife decided she’d had enough of writing those checks to the auctioneer and she took a class and became a licensed auctioneer. While she listened to the suggestions of her children, it was the father who made the decisions.
And, their comments, suggestions and feedback fell on deaf ears with their father. Rather than test some of the suggestions and strategies of his children, he shook his head and told them they didn’t know what they were talking about. Instead of considering a change that could have made it possible for more of the children to earn their living with the business, the father grew angry and pouted. And, he never tried a single thing they offered. Eventually, when he grew too old to run the business, he closed the business and retired.
The other sons found other careers. But the oldest son, took his ideas and implemented them into his own auction and used furniture business. He spent time researching items and offered his consignors opportunities for him to sell the items online or at a special sale for collectibles where advertising was aimed at dealers and collectors who were willing to pay higher prices for these items.
Are you willing to be ‘wrong’ to move your business ahead? Learning new ways of doing old things often comes with a price–your pride. If you were never taught how to follow up on your unconverted leads, it’s likely you CAN’T know the best way to do that. If you have never learned to run your business by the numbers, with reports, you probably don’t know how important this is either.
Don’t spend another minute shaking your head to offers of improving your practice. Take a moment to watch my webinar. I will share how I have helped attorneys everywhere make adjustments to their practices and learn to run them like a business.
Building a better business by being willing to be wrong before learning how to do it right!